The Exterminator (Review)

The Exterminator


1980
Starring
Robert Ginty as John Eastland
Christopher George as Detective James Dalton
Tony DiBenedetto as Chicken Pimp
Steve James as Michael Jefferson


Finally, a movie about what happens when cyborgs retire from their jobs of going back in time and killing unborn resistance leaders, moving down to Florida and hitching up their pants to their armpits. Huh? The movie is a Punisher rip-off? Damn it! Foiled again! Well, this is at least better than the first Punisher movie, and it was so popular despite being direct to video it managed a sequel!


Explosions fly fast and furious as men catapult into the air. It appears we are in Vietnam, or at least having flashbacks due to exposure to Agent Orange. A black guy named Michael is trying to save a white guy named John who is in a ditch. They both become POWs and are taken along with a third person, who is beheaded before we can care about him. John is about to be offed by the Viet Cong when Michael kills a guard with piano wire he just happened to have around his head (in case he needs to tickle the ivory while deep in the bush). Michael grabs the guard’s machine gun and opens fire, killing everyone in the camp except John, and the Viet Cong who bursts into flame for no reason. Spontaneous combustion was a big problem in the late sixties. John finishes him off. The remainder of the platoon arrives just in time to have missed all the action, but not too late to miss the random explosions! The whole squad gets helicoptered out (on a bird called “Death Before Dishonor”) as the cliffside they fly by catches a case of spontaneous immolation by fire. Was everything in Vietnam made out of gasoline and oily rags?

Back in the USA for the opening credits, which pass over the Statue of Liberty and then New York City at night, all while playing a patriotic bittersweet America/Vietnam song, a montage that makes most 9-11 sappy tributes look like spider monkeys flinging cheese at photos of Seabiscuit. Michael is working as a truck driver for White Rock Beer. Inside, his codgerty old boss is making his weekly “Random Mob Stereotypes” Payments. Some gang members break into the Beer Warehouse and help themselves to some frothy refreshments. John is there as well and he is putting away the last of the beer an notices the thugs. This gang group, the Ghetto Ghouls, contains a black guy dressed as a biker gang member, a reject from the Confederate Army (complete with hat), and a member of the French Resistance (or at least a guy with a beret.) Michael shows he can beat up multiracial gang members as easily as he beat up the Viet Cong when they make trouble with John. Soon those turkeys are plucked, and Michael and John can get back to being everyday blue collar guys.

Michael goes to see his kids before they leave for school. Walking back from home to meet John for beer, the Ghetto Ghouls ambushes him. They’ve added a long-haired hippy member to their ranks, and they grab Michael and Beret shoves a garden claw into Michael’s spine. Michael is paralyzed now. Yep, John is the main character. The movie had me fooled as well.

John grabs a member of the Ghetto Ghouls, ties him up, and the gang member gives information on the headquarters of the gang, under threat of FLAMETHROWER! At the Ghetto Ghouls Headquarters (GGHQ), Disco Inferno plays as a Che Guevara poster hangs on the wall, telling us that all Liberals are dirty gang members. Actually, having Beret idolize a murderer such as Guevara is a good choice, but Beret doesn’t torture and murder political prisoners, so he gets the details wrong. John bursts in, machine gun at the ready. John kicks out the half-naked girls, then machine guns Hippy. Beret and Black Truck Driver are captured and John chains them under a sink in an abandoned house, shooting them both and letting the rats feed on them, complete with the require Nam flashbacks. Later the police arrive and crack wise.

The next day at his meatpacking job, John notices the two mob stereotypes. Their boss is Mr. Pontivini, who is back at his mansion speaking with his mob accountant. There will be an investigation into meat prices unless they are lowered 4 cents over the next six months. Pontivini complains but eventually relents. A cop named Dalton who is sent to look into the deaths of the gang members searches for their girlfriends for information. John talks with Michael in the hospital, then starts tailing the Mob Stereotypes. The Mob Stereotypes visit Mr. Puntovini, and they all go to eat in a steakhouse. John plays “hide in the trash” as Mr. Pontivini goes to the bathroom, while Mr. Puntovini’s bimbo hits on the Mob Stereotype with a small hat. John injects Mr. Pontivini with something to knock him out, and takes him to the meatplant. Pontivini is hung above the meat grinder and John threatens to grind him up, until Pontivini tells John how to get into his house and into his safe, so John can get money for Michael’s family. John goes into the house, but Pontivini has failed to warn him about his vicious guard dog, Fluffy. Fluffy is soon turned into Kit ‘N Kabootle via electric turkey carver. Pontivini is soon turned into a pile of future Quarter Pounders with cheese.


Dalton the cop sees one of the Ghetto Ghouls gang members in the hospital as he survived being chained to a sink and rats eating him. Dalton also meets a nurse who seems to be Joan Collins’s cousin, in both looks and voice. They have a nice date, as the movie has suddenly switched gears. Wait, it switches back! Now a pimp who usually sells little boys at places called “chicken houses” grabs a hooker off the street for one of his weirdo clients, a slimy bald man. She refuses to go along with it, and is “punished” by the slimy man, which means he burned her breasts with a hot curling iron and vaseline.

NEWSFLASH! TV news crews get a letter from the Exterminator, who takes credit for Pontivini’s death and promises more, that the streets will be taken back. This gets some white guys in suits worried, one guy promises to “take care of it” and they mention the election coming up. Now that our hero has a name, all he needs is a costume. We don’t get one, sadly. John does manage to wander around the streets of New York, and the director films him and actual crazy people interacting. John manages to pick up a hooker, the same one that was curling iron burned. She tells him what happened, and now it’s avenging time. John makes some mercury tipped bullets (mercury tipped bullets expand larger and cause greater sized exit wounds, in addition to the mercury poisoning if they actually survive being shot), grabs his gun and heads over to the chicken house. House pimp gets BBQed while handcuffed to his bed by John, while Slimy bald man is shot in the waist. John gets a boy who was raped out of there.

Dalton is on the case, but the CIA is hounding him. It also turns out the slimy bald guy was a state Senator from New Jersey. Typical! Dalton cooks a hotdog by electric lamp and chats with his nurse girl, they go to see a jazz concert and walk in the park. Elsewhere in the park an old lady is mugged by some Ghetto Ghouls, including the one that was threatened with the flamethrower earlier. The mugging scene is pretty well done and is much more graphic than most similar scenes done in movies nowadays. A good Samaritan stops by to help, but he is then robbed of his motorcycle by John, who uses it to chase after the Ghetto Ghouls. They stop and John shoots the member he threatened earlier in the movie, and the other two there panic and drive away. John crashes while chasing them, and they try to run him down, only to eat a bullet, and their car flips over a ledge once the driver is taken out. Being that this is a cheap action movie, the car instantaneously ignites from the weight of a speck of dust landing on the vehicle.

Agent Shaw, CIA, makes himself known again when Dalton is investigating the car explosion. Shaw is actually forthcoming about their conspiracy theories about the Exterminator’s true motives. Dalton visits his nurse girlfriend in the hospital. John is also there, visiting Michael. Michael wants him to pull the plug, and John does. When John leaves, he sees Dalton, and Dalton realizes who he was. There is some nice cinematography when Dalton is waiting for a call to confirm his suspicions. Dalton raids John’s place, but John hasn’t arrived home yet, as he was telling Michael’s wife he died. John sees the cop cars outside, and calls his own apartment, Dalton picking up the phone. John tells Dalton to meet him at a shipyard. The conversation is also overheard by the CIA.

After some hot crane climbing action, Dalton reaches John. But Dalton is SNIPED! By the CIA! John tries to leave as Dalton covers him, but John is also shot! Dalton gets killed as well, and then Dalton’s car explodes in one shot! The CIA doesn’t mess around. Now everyone is dead, what a depressing ending. WAIT! John is still alive, he had a bullet proof vest one! The Exterminator lives! The movie closes with more patriotic country western style music as the camera pans once again over New York City and Lady Liberty.

From Sea to Shining Sea! And don’t forget to purchase some orange drink, for the long ride home.

Nice film, very Punisher-riffic. Also showed older New York City when it was a crime haven and cases like Bernhard Goetz got a lot of public sympathy because everyone wanted to shoot muggers as most people in NYC were robbed at some point as crime had spiraled out of control. That gave it a slight edge above the normal mindless action movies, though the lower crime rates have made the film have less appeal. But if we ever enter another period of high crime rates and scared citizenry, then this movie will return once again.

Rated 6/10 (Death Before Dishonor, Che, former mobster, hot dog cookout, just hanging around, mob stereotypes)


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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!