He’s not only smarter than the police; he’s doing their job… He’s the Exterminator
Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Fragment:
A gang paralyzes John’s pal, he becomes a vigilante.
Well, there’s the unusually close bond between John and his ‘Nam buddy, Michael, to the extent that the attack on Michael sends John on a bloody rampage. There’s the usual masculine palling around at their blue collar job. And, that’s about it. Oh yeah, there’s the scene where a teenage boy is chained face down, nude and anally assaulted with a soldering iron. Even when The Exterminator rescues him and gives him a towel, the towel keeps slipping off. That boy’s bare ass has more screen time than Michael’s wife and kids, who are supposed to be the chief objects of our sympathy. Don’t pretend you’d have it any other way.
13, but a pretty brutal 13. Most of the gore is off-screen, except for this scene where a GI is tied up and decapitated in the ‘Nam prelude. But two gang members are tied down in a rat infested basement and left to be devoured. A chicken hawk is tied to a bed and burned alive. There’s a lot of scenes in which men tie each other up.
Tying a man up (see) and slowly lowering him into a meat grinder will usually score you top novelty death, and this case is no exception. John has abducted a mob boss, suspended him in chains above the grinder and extorted some money from him. When the dago tricks John into walking into a dog attack, John comes back and makes some extra greasy hamburger.
Pre-Mortem One liner:
Before leaving the mob boss, John utters the trailblazing line “if you’re lying, I’ll be back.” Arnold is nothing but a two bit thief.
How bad was it really?
Well, the critics would give it a low rating, then shower it with praise. Ebert raves, “The Exterminator exists primarily to show burnings, shootings, gougings, grindings, and beheadings. It is a small, unclean exercise in shame.” How is that not good for at least 3.5 stars?
Also, this random guy on IMDB simply must be quoted. “Dark as a panther’s kiss, this top notch killer thriller pops all the right tubes and leaves you dancing like Sullivan. There’s something about a good vigilante film to get the old blood pumping and your mouth salivating. When I watched it as a youth, it made me want to track down Barry Bargeld, the school bully, and grip his coat collar.” Obviously, I simply can’t compete with that. But I’ll finish the review anyway.
Really, the movie is pretty bad. The story rambles and changes course for no reason. For example, we’re barely introduced to the cop chasing down The Exterminator before we see him involved in a romantic subplot. This is supposed to draw us in, but instead we ask, “who the fuck is that guy?” Once we remember him as that cop who was on screen for 13 seconds a while back, he completely changes heart for no real reason and decides it’s best to let The Exterminator do his work without police interference. There’s a lot good about The Exterminator. It has a higher budget than I expected. It foreshadows much of what is to come in the world of action. It’s dark as a panther’s kiss. Its one flaw is not being a very good movie.
Stupid Political Content:
The film is liberal in that it is pro-euthanasia. Everyone seems to agree that John pulling the plug at his paralyzed friend’s request, which he can only make by blinking twice, is the right thing to do. It’s conservative in that it is pro-murdering-anyone-you-even-suspect-of-a-crime. The Exterminator was also at the forefront of the whole notion that we have a crazy, liberal criminal justice system that leaves our prisons sitting practically empty. We are to believe that the state of affairs is typified by the rap sheet of one of The Exterminator’s victims, read off by a cop: “42 arrests for promoting prostitution, assault, rape, white slavery, corrupting the morals of minors. Lately, he specialized in young boys. He was convicted twice and served a total of 18 months.” I’m not sure that there’s an actual crime called “white slavery.”
You get 18 months for 42 severe sex crimes? Time to get bus-ay!