Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I don't know who that guy is on the cover.  All I can say is that whoever he is, he is not in this movie.  This guy looks like he is about to take on a thousand T-800s and kick Skynet in it's robo-balls.  All I am saying is that Blowtorch guy there belongs in either the biggest action movie ever made or some crap directed by the guy who made DEADLY PREY.  THE EXTERMINATOR is about John Eastland a Vietnam vet who wages a one man war against the crime in New York city after his friend is paralyzed by a group of thugs.  Yes, at one point he puts on a motorcycle helmet (that doesn't belong to him) and in one scene he threatens a guy with a blowtorch.  He doesn't run around looking like he just escaped from THE BLUE OYSTER.   

John Eastland is played by Robert Ginty.  Ginty is not the greatest actor but in this movie he is excellent.  He fits the role perfectly.  Ginty isn't a tough looking dude with large muscles and squinty mean eyes.  He is just an average Joe.  That's kind of the point.  This movie, like DEATH WISH, is about the everyday man going out and using violence against the corrupt to make a difference and to feel better about themselves.  The big difference between the two is of course DEATH WISH stars Charles Bronson who was already a big time actor best known for his tough guy punching people in the face roles.  Even though he is portraying the average man he is still CHARLES FREAKIN BRONSON BADASS EXTRAORDINAIRE.  Everyone knows who Charles Bronson is.  Robert Ginty doesn't even know who Robert Ginty is.  Casting Ginty makes the film seem more since authentic when trying to portray a citizen standing up to take a bite out of crime.  DEATH WISH though is a little more realistic.  THE EXTERMINATOR balances a realistic (I'm just joking) character study with some shoddy action movie moments.  At the beginning when Eastland is captured in Vietnam you see a bunch of random explosions everywhere including on the sides of cliffs for some reason and army dudes firing their guns all over the place without much reason except to make it look like a big action scene.  There are helicopters and people set on fire and so on.  Oh, and lets not forget about that guy that gets his head cut off.  All I am saying is that they paid him extra to cut off his head.  Later on this thug is shot and goes flying backwards in the air.  He doesn't just fall down like in real life.

This is a smarter movie than you would think.  My favorite thing about this movie is how his experiences in Vietnam shaped the way Eastland exacts his revenge.  He sees a guy executed in a river by a fellow soldier.  Later Eastland has the head of the gang that hurt his friend tied up in a basement.  He shoots the gang member in the head too.  A Viet Cong soldier is set on fire by a blowtorch so Eastland uses a blowtorch to scare a thug into talking.  Watching Eastland's progression from regular guy into a cold badass is one of the best things about this film.  It is Eastland who kills his paralyzed friend who is hooked up to life support unable to communicate except with his eyes.  His friend gives him permission to cut the cord to his breather.  Then as Eastland is leaving he gets in a elevator and spots this detective that has been tracking him the whole movie.  Before the doors close and Eastland escapes he cracks a smart ass remark about the detectives zipper being down.  Eastland just mercy killed his friend and he is making a joke.  Despite all the killing Eastland has done it is this one moment when you realize what a different kind of person he is from the beginning.  He is still a good guy but death has no impact on him at all.  Good stuff.

If I had to make a list of the 10 best Grindhouse films like the Nerd-os out there like to do then I would have to say that THE EXTERMINATOR is my #1.  The movie is very colorful.  It has a few very noticeable film flubs.  It captures Times Square as the Mecca for porn theaters and super cheap street hookers it was back in the seventies before Giulianni took over.  People nowadays wouldn't even recognize it.  Which is sad because NIGHT COURT doesn't make much sense now since New York has classed up a bit.  THE EXTERMINATOR doesn't have a real ending which fits into the Grindhouse anything can happen formula.  These politicians ultimately try to kill Eastland at the end but only kill the detective.  Eastland is shot but he was wearing a bulletproof vest.  He falls into the ocean and is presumed dead.  As he emerges from the water the credits roll and you are like "No, there is still more movie to go".  But there isn't.  There is a sequel but the less said about that the better.  The sequel doesn't continue the story whatsoever.  Its a huge disappointment but more on that later.................probably. 

I was always curious about THE EXTERMINATOR.  In my younger days when video rental stores existed I saw the cover of this movie every single time I browsed the aisles looking for a movie to rent.  Never once did I pick it up.  Only now in the days of DVD did I get curious and buy it.  I'm so glad I did.  If you are looking for something different and a little grimy then I recommend highly THE EXTERMINATOR.  I like this movie so much that I have a poster print of it framed and hanging in my kitchen.  I have THE EXTERMINATOR part 2 poster too up in my living room but that is just because the poster looks so badass not because it is good.  It is not because nobody gets shot in the balls with poisoned tipped .44 magnum bullets that shred on impact.  You can make any movie good with poisoned tipped .44 magnum bullets that shred on impact and are set loose on some poor bastard's junk.  Try it and see for yourself.


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