The Exterminator!

In war, you have to kill to stay alive…on the streets of New York, it’s often the same.

THE EXTERMINATOR (1980)

This clas-sick revenge flick opens with a BANG right in the middle of a burning jungle in Vietnam. A trio of GI’s, including our wounded hero John Eastland (Robert Ginty – RIP) and his best pal Michael Jefferson, are taken prisoner by the Vietcong, who proceed to tie them up, torture, and interrogate them. One of the unlucky soldiers is decapitated with a machete before Jefferson can finally get free and blow the shit out of everybody in a merciless slow motion bloodbath. John and Mike then manage to fight their way to a helicopter which carries them both to safety. In war you have to kill to stay alive…on the streets of New York, it’s often the same.

We then flash forward about a dozen years or so and find the two vets working together in a sleazy South Bronx warehouse. John discovers a pack of street thugs (including Ned Eisenberg from “The Burning” & the one and only Irwin Keyes of “Friday The 13th” and “The Warriors” legend!) stealing beer one afternoon and a violent confrontation quickly ensues. Mike shows up and the two pals manage to run the punks off. This small victory leads to an inevitable retaliatory beat down and flesh ripping attack that leaves Mike in a hospital bed, paralyzed for life. John then turns into a vigilante, uses his trusty flamethrower to gather information, and quickly tracks down the ghetto ghouls that crippled his friend. After a dramatic confrontation set to “Disco Inferno” that includes the clas-sick line “That nigger was my best friend, you motherfucker!” John fills the scumbags full of lead and leaves one of them still alive to have his face eaten off by rats! Burn baby, burn.

Jefferson’s distraught wife turns to John for help with the hospital bills, and John decides to extort one of the greasy meat mobsters who control the warehouse where he works. THE EXTERMINATOR is best known of corpse for his trademark flamethrower, but he also takes the time to make his own homemade mercury filled bullets, and he really knows his way around an industrial meat grinder too! I always get a sick chuckle out of seeing a fully clothed mafioso going into the meat grinder and nothing but fresh ground hamburger coming out of it! No pesky clothing or shoe pieces to worry about! Not content to stop there, John euthanizes his paralyzed pal Jefferson, and then unleashes an onslaught of violent fury against the entire NYC underworld. No pimp, pervert, or pusher is safe from The Exterminator. John has become a one man army. A new kind of soldier in a new kind of war.

The late great genre superstar Christopher George (“Enter The Ninja,” “Pieces”) plays a hard boiled cop trying to track down the man they pushed too far. Chris takes up a lot of the running time slowly investigating the case, grilling hot dogs and prostitutes, and romancing his doctor-girlfriend, played by Samantha Eggar (“The Brood”). John shares a tender moment with a disfigured and burned teenage prostitute, and then sets his sights on the sick bastards that mutilated her. The Exterminator quickly becomes a hero to the public but is considered a dangerous menace by the corrupt mayor, who fears more for his re-election attempt than he does the public’s safety. As the body count rises John also becomes a target for the C.I.A., who consider him to be the most dangerous serial killer in the country, and a threat to national security. When everyone’s the victim, he’s the only hope they’ve got.

James Glickenhaus wrote and directed this clas-sick exploitation flick which is chock full of nasty violence and SLEAZE including child prostitution, gay sex slaves, torture, mutilation, and disfigurement! “The Exterminator” is an ultra-grisly, ultra-sleazy combination of “Death Wish” and “Taxi Driver.” The perverted sequences featuring the “chicken shack” are unreal. It makes you wonder where in the hell this stuff was filmed! There’s an especially gory decapitation during the violent opening sequence that ranks as one of the best I’ve ever seen. Not realistic by any means, but exceptionally cool looking! I love the way the head doesn’t fully detach from the body. This incredible effect was achieved with an entire animated body with graphic facial expressions and reportedly cost $25,000 to create! Good gory fun!

This flick could be considered a little uneven in terms of pacing, but it more than makes up for it with grit and grue. Sadly, this film was heavily edited back in the day to earn an “R” rating. Like any clas-sick exploitation flick, this has to be seen in all of its full uncut glory to be fully appreciated. When the more extreme moments of splatter are scissored there’s not a lot left here to be enjoyed. The romantic scenes with Christopher George and Samantha Eggar are pretty much worthless to the story and the viewer, but they effectively pad the film’s running time in between the violent scenes. (remember: only love pads the film) The film was predictably savaged by critics upon release (Roger Ebert referred to “The Exterminator” as “a small, unclean exercise in shame”) but was a box office success, and it quickly became a cult favorite on cable and home video. A lot of the film’s notoriety came from the posters and and VHS covers, which always featured ominous looking shots of a muscular masked man (clearly not Robert Ginty) with a raging flamethrower in his hands. Few viewers could see the cover and resist giving it a rental!

The fine fiends at Tango Entertainment were good enough to release the digitally remastered unrated director’s cut of THE EXTERMINATOR on dvd. That’s the only version of the film worth seeing. The total lack of bonus features is a major let down, but the superior image quality and the fact the film is presented uncensored make this dvd a must have for hardcore fans of brutal revenge-themed action. Buy or die!

 

EXTERMINATOR 2 (1984)

The human fire bomb returns! The Exterminator is back, and this time he’s not fucking around. He’s dropped the “The” from his name, and he shoots off his flamethrower in the first five seconds of the movie! He’s also picked up some bullet proof armor and got himself a nifty metal welding mask. John Eastland (Robert Ginty – the Gintyest!) survived the C.I.A. sting that almost cost him his life and resumes his career as a torch wielding outlaw vigilante. John returns to action after a 4 year absence and roasts a couple nuts who had just robbed a liquor store. This earns the wrath of X!

X (Mario Van Peebles!) is the deranged and poorly dressed leader of a ferocious street gang that is threatening to take over New York City. His demented master plan includes armed car robberies, subway car bisections, roller skate kidnappings, and the eventual drug addiction of the entire Big Apple! X dreams of turning the city’s street trash into drug addled zombies, who will then join him and allow him to rule the world. X seeks revenge on The Exterminator for killing off his minions, and teams up with the local Mafia for help. John evens the odds by getting an incredibly annoying best friend named Be Gee. He then spends most of the movie riding around in Be Gee’s garbage truck or hanging out in a bar, where he watches his eternally doomed love interest Caroline dance.

John & Caroline have a tender sex scene and fall in love, which of corpse means Caroline must be brutally attacked by X and his gang. (this is an exploitation flick after all) Caroline is severely beaten by the bad boys in Central Park and is left crippled in a wheelchair. John and Be Gee try their best to cheer her up afterwards, but not even Be Gee’s incessant yelling can do the trick. John knows the only answer is brutal revenge, which is proceeded with an “A-Team” inspired montage where John & Be Gee turn the garbage truck into a makeshift bulldozer. There wasn’t a conveniently located industrial meat grinder this time around, so John improvises and interrogates a punk by putting him in the trash compactor instead.

John & Be Gee then use their makeshift bulldozer to crash a party where X and the mafia are doing a dope deal. Lots of drugs and punks get crushed under the wheels of justice, but the fun is short lived. Be Gee makes the fatal mistake of trying to grab a bag full of cash and gets pumped full of lead by X. John barely escapes with his life, and now that his woman AND his best friend have been violated, he jumps headfirst into yet ANOTHER montage where he prepares the garbage truck for mortal combat. This all leads up to the final explosive confrontation between The Exterminator and X. Cars crash, people are lit on fire, a body count just slightly less than that of the Vietnam war is racked up, and X goes out with a bang. Don’t bug The Exterminator!

The notorious Cannon Group were responsible for this 1984 cash-in sequel to THE EXTERMINATOR. The words “a Golan-Globus production” should clue in the viewer for what they are in store for. Cheap, formulaic action, with the emphasis on cheap. EXTERMINATOR 2 was co-written and directed by Mark Buntzman, who was also a producer of the first film. To Mark’s credit, there are a few genuinely shocking moments along the way, including the groovy subway bisection and the closeup of the charred corpse of a hapless helicopter pilot. Sadly, these noteworthy moments are few and far between and for the most part the film is predictable, tedious and uneventful. A lot of people over the years have compared “Exterminator 2″ to another Cannon clas-sick – “Death Wish 3,” and I have to agree. The films feel very similar, and both feature wacky multi-racial street thugs in horrible outfits savaging the streets of NYC. The plot is indeed a very standard tale of vigilante justice that could easily have been molded for any action star of the era.

“Exterminator 2” is a much more “standard” 80’s action flick than it’s predecessor. It also features considerably more breakdancing and rollerskating. This flick has a reputation for being pretty violent, and has been banned and censored throughout the world, but I have to admit I found it fairly tame. Having X and his minions kidnap and shoot up a young girl with dope is pretty shocking, but it pales in comparison to the graphic child prostitution seen in the first film. Same deal with seeing John threaten someone with a trash compactor instead of actually grinding them into fresh hamburger. Irwin Keyes returns and plays another short lived street punk, but he doesn’t get much screen time. Critics love to make fun of Robert Ginty’s sleepy performances and general lack of charisma, but I think the majority of the shame in this one belongs to Mario Van Peebles. Mario looks and sounds completely ridiculous as “X” and is one of the least convincing “Futuristic Warriors” ever seen in an 80’s action flick.

Negatives aside, EXTERMINATOR 2 is a very fun flick and should be considered a must see for fans of revenge themed 80’s action. Diehard fans of the first “Exterminator” and “Death Wish 3” in particular will eat this up. The maniacs at Shout! Factory recently released Exterminator 2 on dvd as part of a kick ass Action Packed Movie Marathon that also includes the incredible “Alienator,” the slightly less impressive, but still fun “Cyclone,” and the Gary Busey biker-revenge epic “Eye Of The Tiger!” “Exterminator 2” shares a dvd with “Eye Of The Tiger,” and there is a commentary track with director Mark Buntzman and “X” himself – Mario Van Peebles! Sadly, that’s the only bonus feature present, none of the film’s many deleted scenes, or the promotional behind the scenes documentary that was shot during filming are included here. No trailer either. Interesting, because this stuff is available on youtube. I’m still hoping that “Exterminator 2” might eventually get the special edition dvd release that it deserves, but until then I highly recommend checking out the Action Packed Movie Marathon.

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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2 Responses to “The Exterminator!”

  1. Could you tell me your secret for a long, happy life? I will arrange everything.My brother is see king a job.I would be very grateful for information about entry to your college.I have never seen the movie.Only by working hard can we succeed in doing everything.Only by working hard can we succeed in doing everything.Are you free this Saturday? No way!I go to school by bike every day.

    • It’s no secret. If you want a long, happy life you have to bathe yourself in the blood of Jesus Christ. Find one of his followers, and drink their blood. My college has a rather strict “Whites Only” rule that might exclude you or your immediate family. I am busy this Saturday. If you don’t want to ride your bike to school you should hitch hike. It’s a great way to meet new people. Ask about their “Ass, Gas, or Grass” policy.

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