THE LOST VHS CLASSIC RETURNS!
A Don LaFontaine-esque voiceover artist grizzles over one of the several TV spots packed onto the special features, “He’s not a TAXI DRIVER, he has no DEATH WISH. He’s just an ordinary man they pushed too far—THE EXTERMINATOR!” But in that declaration the marketers both exploit the success of those previous man vs city scum flicks, and acknowledge the obvious-to-come comparisons to those cinematic icons. What sets THE EXTERMINATOR apart though is its surreal quality; a film with gobs of slo-mo gory money shots, whimsical disjointed editing, extreme character interactions, and the odd Stan Getz cameo. Synapse Films will release the Blu Ray/DVD combo in all its X Rated restored glory on September 13th.
The film opens with a massive fireball, a soldier slo-mo flying across the screen and collapsing on a battlefield. Helicopters whizzing through smoke and flames. Machine gun fire bursting from trees and foxholes. Welcome to The ‘Nam. Soldiers Robert Ginty (HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN, COMING HOME) and Steve James (AMERICAN NINJA, DELTA FORCE) have been taken hostage, their only chance is to machete their way to freedom. War buddies bound in blood.
Back in the world, pals Ginty & James work together packing random crates into random trucks. Just a buck to be made in New York City. Above their pay grade they turn their heads to the constant mob protection payoffs, but violence eventually erupts when the local street gang attempts to steal crates of beer from under their noses. The end result is the birth of a myth, a legend, The Exterminator.
Similar to DEATH WISH, what’s fascinating about THE EXTERMINATOR is that it’s not a Revenge Movie. If all that Ginty required was vengeance than the film wouldn’t last more than twenty minutes (the man knows how to slaughter a thug). Tainted by his war experiences, Ginty’s vigilante unpacks his war chest and sets himself against the rest of New York’s underbelly. He’s got the flamethrower (although at no part does he look as ripped or terrifyingly badass as that dude on the VHS box cover), the hand cannon, a soldering iron, and access to a man-sized meat grinder.
As the violence escalates and New Jersey state senators start popping up sodomized, the NYPD and the CIA are forced to take notice. Christopher George (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, DIXIE DYNAMITE) tasks himself with the duty of taking down Ginty’s Exterminator and director/writer James Glickenhaus does his darndest to draw parallels between both Vietnam Vet characters. Somewhere jammed within the B story is a love relationship with nurse Samantha Eggar (THE BROOD, SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION) but like most concocted love stories it plays like a log, stiff and dead.
So comparisons to other films might be fair from a plot standpoint, but if you’re a Bastard like me (and I know you are) than what you’re looking for is a feast of grit and grind. Pure exploitation style over substance. THE EXTERMINATOR delivers. It has that dream quality. Transitions that just happen, scenes sporadically flashcutting atop each other, the audience drifting along with Ginty’s quest. But it also has the largest mound of Man Meat and the hardest Grandma Thwack in cinema.
Synapse’s Blu-Ray is beautiful. I had not seen the movie since those Sophie’s Choice days of VHS or Betamax, and I can guarantee you that THE EXTERMINATOR has never looked this damn good. The extras are a little light for my tastes, but the commentary track with James Glickenhaus reveals some fun facts like Stan Winston’s involvement in a puke inducing decapitation and that the helicopter used in the opening shot is the same one that killed Vic Morrow on the set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE….uh, yikes. Anyway, it’s well worth a listen.
High Definition 1080p Widescreen 1.78:1 Presentation
The original director’s cut featuring more gore and violence
Newly restored original score soundtrack mix
Audio Commentary with director James Glickenhaus
Theatrical Trailer and Television Spots (HD)
VERDICT: BUY IT!
IT’S BIG BOOTAY!
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