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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Driller Killer [Blu-ray]

 

(Abel Ferrara, 1979)

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Navaron Films

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Theatrical Runtime: 1:35:52.454

Pre-release Runtime: 1:40:59.011

Disc Size: 48,685,440,885 bytes

Theatrical Size: 20,523,699,456 bytes

Pre-release Size: 21,662,503,488 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.26 Mbps / 25.31 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

NOTE: the Steel book is a 'Limited Edition' featuring original artwork (2,500 copies)

Release date: UK - November 28th / US - December 13th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1 / 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio (both versions):

LPCM Audio English 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
 

Commentary (only for theatrical version):

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Audio commentary by director and star Abel Ferrara, moderated by Brad Stevens (author of Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision) and recorded exclusively for this release
Laine and Abel: An Interview with the Driller Killer, a brand-new interview with Ferrara (17:31)
Willing and Abel: Ferraraology 101, a new visual essay guide to the films and career of Ferrara by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Cultographies: Ms. 45 (34:19)
Mulberry St., Ferrara s feature-length 2010 documentary portrait of the New York location that has played a key role in his life and work, available on home video in the UK for the first time ever (1:27:52)
Trailer (0:32)
Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Michael Pattison and Brad Stevens

DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

1) Arrow (Theatrical) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow (Pre-release) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

Description: In career that has encompassed such controversial classics as Ms. 45, Bad Lieutenant and Welcome to New York, none of Abel Ferrara's films have quite managed to match the shock, extremity and downright notorious nature of The Driller Killer.

Ferrara plays struggling artist Reno, a man pushed to the edge by the economic realities of New York living in the late seventies and the No Wave band practising in the apartment below. His grip on reality soon begins to slip and he takes to stalking the streets with his power tool in search of prey...

One of the most infamous video nasties, in part thanks to its drill-in-head sleeve, The Driller Killer has lost none of its power to unnerve and is presented here fully uncut.

 

1) Arrow (1:37:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow (1.85:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

The Film:

Reno, a painter, is driven to distraction by financial troubles, the punk band rehearsing next door, and the city squalor he sees all around him. Picking up a power tool, he vents his fury on the homeless, bit by bit. Ferrara's first film coincided with John Sayles' Return of the Secaucus Seven at the onset of the American indie scene - though, like nearly all Ferrara's work, this feels more at home on the exploitation fringe than the art-house circuit. (There's even a gratuitous lesbian shower scene.) Notorious in Britain as one of the much-cited, little-seen 'video nasties' that ushered in the censorious Video Recordings Act of 1984, this reappeared in 1999 in a version six minutes longer than previously (though still shorn of its goriest moments), basking in the retrospective glow of such hard-won auteurist credibility as Ferrara has mustered. The very first image sees Laine (aka Ferrara) approaching an altar, for all the world like Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant. We even get glimpses of Ferrara's own paintings on the walls. Take out the killings, and you're left with an anguished (even somewhat boring) stab at urban ennui, heavily influenced by Repulsion and Taxi Driver.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

The Driller Killer, though, is darkly fascinating, as much a document of the late-'70s New York punk and pop-art scenes as it is a grindhouse plugger. Ferrara himself stars as a misanthropic painter who lets his frustration with insensitive art dealers and obnoxious neighbors push him over the edge, into homicide by power drill. Ferrara based his character on a bum-hating friend of his, and shot the film over the course of two years, partly as a joke and partly as an attempt to cash in on gore-mania. But his fascination with New York subcultures overtook the project, leading him to spend half the picture hanging out with fringe-dwellers before finally getting around to offing them. It's not an auspicious debut, but The Driller Killer is clearly the work of a one-of-a-kind maverick.

Excerpt from AVClub located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond to the best of our knowledge. The Steelbook has the same transfer(s) and is limited to 2,500 copies. The two versions ('Theatrical' and, 5-minute longer, 'Pre-release') are seamlessly-branched and the quality of the two is the same. Obviously the 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 are different transfers (although similar bitrates to their same aspect ratio rendering) and we have compared some frames below. Both are cited as a "Brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative."

 

The Driller Killer gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow.  It is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 16mm negative (35mm - printed - blown-up) feature. It looks very film-like with beautiful grain texture. The 4K restoration is impressive. This Blu-ray is beneficial in offering both theatrical and pre-release as well as the two aspect ratios. As you can see, the widescreen shows a shade more on the side edges and a lot less off the top and bottom. The transfer can't improve upon the production roots and the image has no noise or artifacts. It is very clean. I doubt it can look any better in HD.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Arrow (1:37:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow (1.85:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow (1:37:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow (1.85:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow (1:37:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow (1.85:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow (1:37:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow (1.85:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow (1:37:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow (1.85:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Arrow (1.85:1) - Region FREE - Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred via a faithful linear PCM mono track at 768 kbps (16-bit) in the original English. the film's dialogue is fairly scattered - as per the original production and the aggressive effects (drill sounds!) are exported with some intensity. We are encouraged by an initial screen:

 

 

The score is by Ferrara-regular Joe Delia (Ms. 45, King of New York, Bad Lieutenant)  can be a little 'scratchy' not supporting the high-end with distinction - this is probably accurate to the original theatrical presentation though. There are optional English subtitles (SDH) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' + 'B'.

 

Extras :

Arrow provide the audio commentary (only for the theatrical version) by director and star Abel Ferrara, moderated by Brad Stevens (author of Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision) and recorded exclusively for this release. I never got the opportunity to hear Ferrara's 2004 commentary but heard it was entertaining. He's always fascinating to listen to. There are some other video pieces; Laine and Abel is a brand new 17-minute interview with Ferrara expanding on the production and his vision. Willing and Abel: Ferraraology 101, is an excellent 1/2 hour visual essay guide to the films and career of Ferrara by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Cultographies: Ms. 45. Mulberry St. is Ferrara's feature-length 2010 documentary portrait of the New York location that has played a key role in his life and work, available on home video in the UK for the first time ever. It runs almost 1.5 hours. There is a trailer and the package has a collector's booklet featuring new writing by Michael Pattison and Brad Stevens plus a second disc DVD (dual-format.).

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Driller Killer carries the interest of being 'Abel Ferrara' and is something I would need to see, yet, again - to garner some of the film's nuances. The commentary and extras help with the appreciation. It's quite an odd film - more artsy than exploitive. The Arrow Blu-ray provides a great package with a strong a/v presentation, with the viewing options, and some educational supplements. I suggest this is one of the 'lost' efforts that film students will want to indulge. It's probably not for mainstream viewing expectations - it's an ugly yet socially intriguing film - not to all tastes. The package is at Arrow's usual high standards - fans wanting to see The Driller Killer couldn't ask for more.  

Gary Tooze

December 1st, 2016

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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