Film Review: The Exterminator (1980)

Release Date: July 21st, 1980 (UK)
Directed by: James Glickenhaus
Written by: James Glickenhaus
Music by: Joe Renzetti
Cast: Robert Ginty, Samantha Eggar, Christopher George, Steve James, George Cheung, Irwin Keyes, Ned Eisenberg

Interstar, 104 Minutes (Director’s Cut), 101 Minutes (original cut)

Review:

“Hey man, whatcha doing? Come on man, don’t fuck around! Hey! Hey! Don’t do that! Come on, man. Whatcha doing that for? Stop!” – Chicken Pimp

Before he was one of the world’s most prolific Ferrari aficionados, James Glickenhaus was a film director. While his movies might not have connected with most people, I’ve always liked his work. I hadn’t seen any of his pictures in awhile, though, so I figured I’d watch the one that immediately comes to mind when I think of his films: The Exterminator.

This movie is a simple vigilante story. It also plays like a Punisher movie if the Punisher was actually allowed to get uber hardcore and get revenge in a balls out, unrelenting ’70s/’80s action film sort of way. Plus, the vigilante here really likes using a flamethrower, which just adds an extra level of extremism to his brand of street justice.

The film essentially starts out as a war movie as we see our would-be hero and his buddy getting tortured by sadistic captors during Vietnam. They escape and make it back to New York City. There, the friend is paralyzed after trying to stop some piece of shit thugs. So the would-be hero decides to make the scumfucks of the NYC slums pay for their scumfuckery.

The Exterminator is action packed and gritty as hell. However, it wasn’t as hard as I remembered it being even though some baddies are turned extra crispy. I feel like this really should’ve gone full on exploitation, grindhouse style and maybe it’d be a bigger cult classic than it is.

I like the action and the story isn’t bogged down by unnecessary plot filler. This just gets to the point once it gets going and it doesn’t let up until the final frame.

I dug revisiting this a lot and I especially loved how enjoyable Robert Ginty was as The Exterminator.

My only real complaint is that the vigilante hero didn’t look as cool as he does on the poster. He should’ve wore that badass black leather outfit.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: its sequel, as well as other ’70s and ’80s vigilante flicks.