Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Man They Pushed Too Far

When I immersed myself in horror, sleaze and outrageous action flicks back in the early 1980s, my friends and I had a handful of "go to" flicks. You know the ones, guaranteed crowd pleasers that could always be counted on to bring everybody to their feet. THE EXTERMINATOR is just such a flick.

I couldn't even tell you how long it's been since I saw this film, but the last time was definitely on VHS and may have been a good ten years ago. Anchor Bay released a "Director's Cut" on DVD a few years ago, but that quickly went out of print and drove prices up past $30 on the collector's market. I dig THE EXTERMINATOR, but that was too steep a price for this boy to pay.

As luck would have it I discovered during one of my eBay trawls that Tango Entertainment had released a bare bones, though widescreen, copy of the flick for about $15. I plunked down my hard earned cashola and waited for this slice of exploitation gold to land in my mailbox.

I'll be getting to a full review on the site shortly, but I had to report how delighted and surprised I was that the flick totally holds up all these years later. For those of you who have somehow remained ignorant of its greatness, THE EXTERMINATOR stars Robert Ginty (inexplicably third billed behind Christopher George and Samantha Eggar) as John Eastman, a Vietnam vet whose best friend (the always reliable Steve James) gets mugged and paralyzed by some inner-city creepos.

In true DEATH WISH fashion, Eastman unpacks his 'Nam gear and begins systematically wiping out the scumbags, thugs, pervs and vermin darkening the early 80s NYC streets. George delivers his best cigar-chomping cop role (not to be confused with his cigar- chomping reporter role from Lucio Fulci's GATES OF HELL), though he seems to do precious little police work and spends most of his time wooing and bedding a hospital doc (Eggar).

Fans jaded by big-budget action spectacles of the last 15 years may not appreciate the flick's low-budget brilliance (Eastman appears to teleport from place to place since we almost never see him going anywhere... he's just there!) or quirks (George calls him "the Executioner" at one point and some have told me that the flick was originally planned as an adaptation of the popular Mack Bolan novels). But if you're looking to revisit an era of sleaze cinema when a pasty, pistol-packing meat plant worker can pick up a Times Square hooker and seek vengeance on the pervs that burned her perky breasts, the THE EXTERMINATOR is for you!

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