“Sick example of the almost unbelievable descent into gruesome savagery in American movies”…
That’s what Roger Ebert said of The Exterminator upon its release in 1980. Well now, thanks to Synapse Films, you can experience all of The Exterminator and it’s “gruesome savagery” in high-def and fully uncut for the first time on Blu-Ray. Released last week as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, The Exterminator definitely shows how far Synapse has come with their Blu-Ray releases. The transfer is excellent. It looks like you’re watching it straight from the original film print. It marks a great improvement over their first Blu-Ray ventures.
The Exterminator is a violent, action packed revenge film directed by James Glickenhaus that, while it may be erratic at times, never fails to entertain. Within the opening five minutes you witness fire bombs and gunfire engulfing the jungles of Vietnam, a slow motion beheading and a man inexplicably caught on fire from being shot (was he soaked in gasolene??) From the get go you know what you’re getting from the film – pure action exploitation goodness!
The Exterminator is the story of John Eastman who decides to take on New York City’s crime population single-handedly after his best friend Michael is attacked and paralyzed by members of a street gang called the Ghetto Ghouls (which, by the way, is the greatest movie gang name EVER). After getting his initial revenge on the gang members involved in the attack, John moves on to mob bosses, pimps and other scumbag criminal types.His extra curricular activity of killing off street scum obviously raises a red flag with the police, but it also irks some crooked politicians as well. So while The Exterminator is hunting down criminals, he’s being hunted as well.
The film is obviously not reinventing the wheel, plot-wise and its pacing is flawed in the sense that it moves almost too quickly without allowing us to really care too much about anyone in it. But hey, this is The Exterminator not Shakespeare. Any lack of character development is forgiven with the amount of action film stereotypes (motorcycle jumps, car explosions, slow motion gunshot deaths) and wicked violence (dobermans and disobedient hookers both catch hell, at the hands of electric knives and soldering irons, respectively.)
This is definitely a must-see for all fans of the revenge films of the late seventies and early eighties. I just hope the quality of this Blu-Ray release carries onto the upcoming Maniac Cop and Frankenhooker discs that are coming out the next months from Synapse.
The Exterminator rates four out of five Screaming Jamies
As a side note, anyone wanting to start a horror blogger gang called the Ghetto Ghouls hit me up, I’m totally down!