In war, you have to kill to stay alive...
On the streets of New York, it's often the same.
...The man they pushed too far
Back of DVD:
Driven by revenge John Eastland (Finty) becomes a on-man task force who annihilates his buddy's attackers then sets out to bring down the city's entire dark underworld. To the public he's a hero but to law enforcement officials The Exterminator is a psychopath, capable of dangerously undermining an entire government administration. Soon The Exterminator gets caught in the cross-hairs of local police, the C.I.A. and the ruthless gangs in a nerve shattering game of cat and mouse that explodes into a surprise climax!
While reviewing my first title on this blog, Shakedown, there was a scene where the two stars of the movie exited a 42nd street grindhouse. On the wall was a poster for The Exterminator. I bought this DVD only weeks ago and took this as a sign that I should base my second review around it.
The movie starts in Vietnam with a morose music soundtrack playing over the top of the war footage. During a battle with the enemy a few American soldiers are captured and tortured. One lucky chap is decapitated so slowly his head is left dangling - pretty gruesome from the outset - and our main protagonist John (Robert Ginty) is witness to the whole thing. Not surprising that he ends up a bit of a whackjob.
Cut to the present day (1980) and John works in a factory warehouse. While John and his buddy Michael (Steve James) go for a coffee they run into a couple of thugs stealing beer from one of the storage areas. They are attacked, but beat the crap out of the thugs. The next day in a revenge attack John's buddy is seriously injured, never to walk again. John swears to avenge his buddy and proceeds to go on a payback rampage through the city. At first he is only interested in getting even with the thugs (who we learn are hilariously called the "Ghetto Ghouls") from the warehouse but one thing leads to another and John takes it upon himself to clean up the city chasing after robbers of old ladies and corporate shills.
This was a pretty good revenge movie with a few creative kills (lowering a guy into a giant mincer feet first and setting a pedophile on fire being the highlights, and the films opening decapitation). John gets more unstable as the movie goes on and we even see some Vietnam flashbacks. Later on we spend nearly five minutes watching him file down bullets and fill them with mercury. You only do this if you want the bullet to explode on impact, so this guy is clearly out for serious revenge here.
The other interesting character in the film is Detective James Dalton (Christopher George) who is in charge of the investigation of who killed the Ghetto Ghouls gang. During his hunt for John he finds time to take a crack at a nurse from the hospital. He at least succeeds there.
There was some slow moments that could be removed (perhaps that was the fault of the directors cut edition I watched?) but overall it held my interest throughout. As usual with grindhouse movies the poster shows the best part of the movie, so don't expect to see an hour and a half of a guy with a flamethrower. A sequel was made four years later but I believe it is only on VHS. I'll track it down and review it in the future.
Synergy R2 release "The Directors Cut - includes never before seen footage". Having not seen any other version I do not know what extra footage was included in this cut. The presentation was in non-anamoprhic letterbox true to the OAR. Picture and sound quality are pretty reasonable, though the lack of 16x9 enhancement is an oversight. Runtime is 97 minutes.
eBay for AU$2.25 + shipping from the UK