14th Nov2011

‘The Exterminator’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Robert Ginty, Steve James, Samantha Eggar, Christopher George | Written and Directed by James Glickenhaus


Arrow Video are back again with another fantastic new Blu-ray release. Getting the Arrow treatment this time round is the exploitation movie classic The Exterminator which stars Robert Ginty as John Eastland, a Vietnam vet pushed over the edge after his best friend MIchael (played by cinematic badass Steve James), the man who also saved his life in ‘Nam, is left crippled following a gang attack one day after work. Seeking revenge for the attack Eastland takes to the streets to not only take out the gang but clean up New York, earning him the nickname “The Exterminator”.

I have a confession to make. Despite my love of exploitation movies and films of the 80s, I had never seen The Exterminator until now. I had seen the seen the sequel many years ago on a cut VHS tape, but at the time I don’t think I appreciated the film for just what it was. Now comes this new high-definition release of the first film and all I have to say is man, what have I been missing!

Starting as it means to go on, with the gory beheading of a soldier in Vietnam, James Glickenhaus’ film is like Death Wish meets Dirty Harry on steroids, featuring some of the most repugnant characters to grace the movies (thank god the exterminator takes them out is all I can say). To this day it’s easy to why the film caused such controversy on its original release, besides the beheading there’s  plenty of graphic violence on display – including a grisly murder by meat grinder, people being set on fire, burnt with soldering irons, shot with mercury filled hollow-point bullets and gun shots a-plenty. Besides the graphic violence what really stands out about The Exterminator is just how seedy and rundown New York looks, abandoned buildings, streets running rife with hookers and drug dealers – it’s no wonder Eastland tried to clean up the place!

Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Arrow Video’s new Blu-ray of The Exterminator really shows off director James Glickenhaus’ fantastic set pieces, including the wonderful opening sequence set in Vietnam. As always with Arrow Video releases, this new Blu-ray is packed with special features, including an introduction to the film by director James Glickenhaus; Fire And Slice: Making The Exterminator – an interview with James Glickenhaus; 42nd Street Then And Now – a tour of New York’s former sleaze circuit with director Frank Henenlotter; audio commentary by Mark Buntzman, producer of The Exterminator and writer-director of The Exterminator II, moderated by Calum Waddell; collectors’ booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by critic David Hayles; reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork; and a double sided fold out artwork poster. Of all the extras it’s the “42nd Street Then And Now” featurette that really shines, as Basket Case director Frank Hennenlotter laments on the loss of the old 42nd grindhouse cinemas.

The Exterminator is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Arrow Video


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