The Driller Killer appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 and of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given the film’s roots and budget, I expected a mediocre image, and that’s what I got.
Sharpness was adequate. Not much of the movie looked soft, but not much of it boasted especially strong delineation, either. Still, the movie offered reasonably positive accuracy. I saw no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and the transfer lacked edge haloes.
Print flaws caused occasional distractions. Throughout the film, I noticed sporadic instances of specks and marks. These remained fairly minor, though, and didn’t create notable issues.
Killer went with a fairly natural palette but delivered lackluster hues. The colors seemed passable but failed to display much vivacity. Blacks were on the inky, flat side, and shadows showed passable delineation. A product of its origins, this became a watchable transfer but not much more.
Expect similar issues with the limited LPCM monaural soundtrack of Driller Killer. Speech suffered from a distant quality and could be on the edgy side. I could understand the lines but they failed to seem especially natural.
Effects tended to be rough and a bit distorted, while music felt somewhat shrill. A bit of background noise crept into the audio as well. As with the picture, the audio represented the source, warts and all.
Among the set’s extras, we find two editions of the film itself. In addition to the theatrical version (1:35:52), we discover a pre-release cut (1:40:53).
Virtually all of the movie’s added five minutes appear in its opening one-third. We get a prologue before the initial scene at the church, and we find more of Reno’s girlfriend Carol.
She’s the character who becomes the main beneficiary of the extra footage, but these scenes don’t improve the movie. The theatrical Killer feels padded and rambling as it is, so more doesn’t become better. The material exclusive to the “pre-release” version does nothing to improve the film.
Alongside the theatrical cut, we get an audio commentary from actor/director Abel Ferrara. Along with moderator Brad Stevens, Ferrara discusses locations, cast and performances, the filming conditions, story/characters, and related elements.
Early in the chat, Stevens asks Ferrara what he recalls about actor Carolyn Marz. The actor/director replies "I remember how her tits felt!"
If you want to know what to expect from the commentary, that crass statement should suffice. Ferrara occasionally gives us moderately informative notes about the movie’s creation, but more often, he rambles semi-coherently about what we see on the screen.
Ferrara spews incomplete sentences packed with profanity and delivers little of use. Stevens occasionally attempts to keep Ferrara on topic, but he seems to abandon hope before long and leaves the filmmaker to his own devices. This ends up as a poor track – it may not be the worst commentary I’ve heard, but it’s close.
A few video pieces follow. Laine and Abel runs 17 minutes, 31 seconds and provides more info from Ferrara. He discusses his early exposure to movies and how he got into filmmaking, developing Driller Killer and aspects of the shoot.
Ferrara remains a less than focused interview subject, but with the probable help of good editing, he seems more on-target here. This allows “Laine” to become a decent chat.
With Willing and Abel, we get a “visual essay guide to the films and career of Abel Ferrara”. This 34-minute, 19-second program offers info from film author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. She gives us a basic biography and overview of Ferrara’s career in this brisk, informative piece.
Mulberry St. gives us Ferrara’s 2010 documentary about the New York location. It lasts one hour, 27 minutes and 52 seconds as it examines Ferrara’s New York neighborhood, with an emphasis on the local Feast of Saint Gennaro celebration.
Essentially “Mulberry” provides a fly on the wall piece that shows Ferrara and the NYC residents, intercut with occasional pieces of media related to the director’s career. Unsurprisingly, it’s a loose and unusual documentary, one that often seems to lack purpose.
And by “often”, I mean almost all the time, as Mulberry never really attempts to tell a clear tale. That said, it gives an unvarnished and sporadically interesting look at Ferrara in his element. It probably works best for the director’s bigger fans, though, as it’s too self-indulgent and unstructured to do much for a more general audience.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a booklet. It offers photos, credits and essays to finish the set on a good note.
A second disc offers a DVD copy of Killer. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray – and both cuts of the film as well.
Filmmaker Abel Ferrara debuted with 1979’s The Driller Killer, a terrible effort that provides no hints of his future success. Amateurish, rambling and borderline pointless, the movie goes nowhere. The Blu-ray brings us adequate picture and audio along with an erratic but occasionally useful set of supplements. Serious Abel Ferrara devotees will want to give the flick a look, but I suspect it’ll disappoint them as well as the rest of us.