One of the most infamous ‘video nasties’, Abel Ferrara’s debut film is misunderstood – many originally judged it on its video artwork alone (the cover showing a close-up of a man being drilled in the head + loadddds of blood) but it’s so much more than a splatter. It’s an arthouse exploitation film essentially – low budget but aesthetically appealing, with way out performances and some really kooky characters. It’s also one of the best punk movies ever, all kudos to the film’s house band, Tony Coca-Cola and The Roosters, who set the tone; as the movie’s opening credits state, ‘This Film Should Be Played Loud’ – that applies to the drill sounds AND the punk rock.
Ferrara directs himself as New York artist Reno, who lives with two beautiful women in a boho lifestyle but is on the edge due to taking his time on his next masterpiece, the bills coming in, the punk band practising downstairs and a growing obsession with power tools. As his rage builds, his visions of lashing out at victims with a drill also take over and he explodes in a violent rampage.
The influences of Driller Killer are everywhere, from American Psycho to Maniac. Ferrara’s performance alone is extraordinary and there’s a (really) dark humour to his rampage. We also found ourselves tapping our feet to all the punk tracks. This is late 70s New York at its finest and grittiest, and it’s a whole lot of grimy fun.
The Driller Killer is released on DVD, Blu-Ray and Dual Format on Monday 28 November from Arrow Video.
GORE RATING: 4/5
Watch it for: Abel Ferrara’s performance
Watch out for: A drilling surprise at a bus stop