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I am Joyce James. I wrote, directed and produced "Driller." I' wanted
to thank the lady poster for understanding that Driller was not a
"tribute" to Thriller, or Michael Jackson--but precisely the opposite!
At the time Thriller came out, my son was 4 years old--and was simply
obsessed with the werewolf transformation in the "behind the scenes" of
Thriller footage. I was sick to death of both MJ and Thriller and
horror movies. I was also sick to death of porn movies with stilted
plot lines--which were the staples of 70 and 80s porn. I foolishly
thought I could turn everything on its ear--and make a gender-bending a
Rocky Horroresque variation on Thriller.
My goal? To work with a special effects guy, Arnold Garguilo, who made all the appliances for "the Driller." Mostly--I wanted my son to see how FX and prosthetics worked. My son is still obsessed with werewolves--and has even played one in a horror flick!
Roger Watkins was brought in by me because he was a friend of mine. He assured me there was nothing to directing a movie--that he would help me, and things would be swell! NOT!! I had never directed more than photo shoots for magazines before--and I shot DRILLER IN 4 days, on a budget of $100,000. I was also encouraged by my friend, executive producer/Mr. UFO, aka Mr Creepo--Timothy Greene Beckley--that all would go swell! It didn't.
The shoot was the worst 4 days/nights in my life. Everything took longer than I had expected. The illuminated dildos had long hideous cords on them--and the actresses refused to use them as dildos--just because their vaginas might be sensitive to the rough plastic!!! Can you imagine??? The circular stage they were supposed to spin on wouldn't spin. My "Golden Girls" fantasy looks absurd. Roger Watkins had disappeared.
The crew mutinied. I had 45 minutes to shoot the entire zombie orgy in the graveyard scene. It was the worst--but I still love the utter insanity of that scene.
I also quite like the cave scene with the Gregorian chants over it--that's pretty much the only scene that went as I envisioned it. I also like the nonsense of the opening scene where you meet Dan and Louise (Brad and Janet) and her complaining about having to take the obligatory cut shot in the face. "Ew! Dan! You got it on my glasses!" Is probably my favorite line...
Yeah---I threw in some Alice in Wonderland imagery as well. Oddly--I really thought this movie would one day become a cult film--not because it's good--but because at least, it is different! Ironically--two other films of mine in another genre have become cult classics-- and I thought they would just disappear! Have patience on my poor little Driller. I overreached with it, no doubt. But still--the first singing/dancing/horror x-rated flick?? Yeah--I know! What's the market for that? Joyce James
"Thriller" (directed by John Landis), from the best-selling album by
Jackson, is considered by most to be the best music video of all time. It
was popular enough to influence many horror films from the era and here is
another direct, feature length copy. It's complete with an effeminate
Michael Jackson clone ("Mr. J") with a sequined glove, dancing zombies, a
pretty close copy of the Rick Baker-designed werewolf creature and
female lead Louise (Taija Rae). And geesh, wouldn't you know it, it's also
hardcore 80s porno.
After Rae whines her way through sex with her dorky boyfriend, she fantasizes about her hero turning into a werewolf and raping her with a long, flexible, mutant penis that spews green slime all over her. Zombies show up, and most of the rest of this tape is too dark, unappealing hardcore on a dungeon set intercut with Mr. J and some of his living dead minions doing a hilariously bad dance routine. A woman masturbates in front of a monster that must be related to The Toxic Avenger, who urges her on. Two gold-painted women use glowing vibrators. Louise watches until she finally joins in on a long orgy featuring zombies (one with an EXORCIST tongue), wolf creatures, the gold women and men with Nixon, Reagen and Abraham Lincoln masks on! It's actually pretty disturbing! The dialogue seems like it was all dubbed in later, but the film was shot on 35MM, so at least it looks halfway decent.
It's hard to imagine just who this was supposed to appeal to, but what the hell, the 80s can now officially rest in peace! Recent revelations that linked Michael Jackson to several hardcore filmmakers give this a little unintentional subtext now.
Score: 2 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Savagely sending up Michael Jackson's famous "Thriller" video and basic persona as some total lunatic, this hardcore X-rated romp is every bit as crude, lewd, and raunchy as it should be. Sexy, but repressed nerdette Louise (foxy brunette Taija Rae) has a mad crush on pop music sensation Hot Star (the divine Mr. J. doing a supremely smooth and sensuous impression of Wacko Jacko). Unbeknownst to Louise, Mr. J. transforms into a ferocious and lecherous werewolf whenever he's sexually aroused complete with a grotesquely huge penis that shoots black joy juice. Hot Star takes Louise back to his secluded castle so the gal can watch assorted ghastly ghouls get their depraved carnal freaks on. Besides the red hot Negro werewolf doing just what you think with a white chick set piece, we also have the expected fellatio, cunnilingus, lesbianism, and a frenzied group orgy which not only features a bunch of zombies, but also two guys wearing Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon masks (!). Other scorchingly arousing highlights include two ladies pleasuring themselves with fluorescent glowing dildos, sweet virgin Cassandra Leigh being tag teamed by S&M leatherboys George Payne and Frank Serrone, and Esmerelda furiously masturbating while a lascivious hunchback cheers her on. Better still, we also get spot-on sound-alike spoofs of the Mikey J. classics "Billie Jean" and "Thriller," dancers bustin' loose with these funky super freakin' slinky moves, and some priceless dialogue ("Am I gonna get rabies?," Louise asks the werewolf after he's finished doing the nasty with her). A deliciously degenerate doozy.
"Driller...It's a Thriller!" the uninspired ad art exclaimed.
Let's get something straight. This is not a thriller. It's a very bad porn version of John Landis's "Thriller" video, an extended Michael Jackson music clip that was recently voted the "Best Music Video Ever" by some instantly forgotten organization.
Despite the fact that there was clearly some money for sets and make-up effects, AND it was shot on 35mm, the director of this mess, Joyce James, squandered every opportunity to make this thing come alive.
The dance numbers are hopeless, the lighting is several stops under, and the sex is ugly. Greg Dark did all of this and better in "New Wave Hookers", "Devil in Miss Jones 3 & 4", "The Shocking Truth" and "Sex Freaks". And Rinse Dream got similar material right in the classic "Cafe Flesh". The sequence with the masked presidents in a sex orgy is the only worthwhile and slightly horrific aspect of this production.
It's depressing watching something as inept as this and more depressing that checks were cashed to produce it.
While John Landis's Thriller video was not a rip-off, it has never deserved the accolades it has received. As a horror-comedy it can't hold a candle to a film like Polanski's Dance of the Vampires. Basically a facile, superficial concoction, it contributed to the death of the horror film in general and the zombie film in particular, as movie after movie in the '80s rushed to emulate that video's glossy MTV style dominated by overwhelmingly blue lighting and bad haircuts. Given that the video couldn't have existed in the first place if it wasn't for cult directors like Fulci and Romero, it was extremely gratifying to see Roger Watkins director of the sublimely depraved Last House on Dead End Street produce a version of Thriller as vile porn film. For those of you who have been craving revenge, look no further: Driller is it.
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