Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Exterminator 2 (1984)

Cannon Films was always at their best when just going for simple, good old fashioned exploitation trash.  In 1984, they were at their most successful with a solid business model (changing it up would lead to their demise) and they decided to make a sequel to the 1980 vigilante flick The Exterminator.  The first movie starred Robert Ginty as a Vietnam vet who is out to avenge the brutal death of his friend, played, ironically enough, by future Cannon fave Steve James.  The film was a grindhouse hit with such sights as a mobster being dropped into an industrial meat grinder and a flashy poster featuring the hero wielding a huge flamethrower which he never uses in the film.

I can only imagine the pitch for this one involved the sentence "This time, he will use the goddamned flamethrower!"

A troubled production, this was taken out of the hands of original director Mark Buntzman (who helped make the first one) and due to a lack of availability, Robert Ginty only appeared in the dialogue scenes, save for one scene where he dons the mask he wears when doing his thing.  The result is that the hero goes through virtually every action scene wearing a big, clunky protective suit while wielding a big, clunky flamethrower.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bad, yet oddly amusing things in this movie.  The main bad guy is called X because the director was unsure of a good name for him.  Mario van Peebles does what he can with the role (not that much) and I'm sure there have been less believable bad guys in movies but what we see here makes me doubt it somewhat.  X is nicely insane but to be honest, the actors just doesn't have the voice for a good bad guy.  Granted, his usual outfit of a mesh t-shirt and shoulder pads from an Italian Road Warrior cash-in does a little to balance things.

Very little.

Ginty goes up against X and his gang, meeting and falling for a dancer who is  crippled and later murdered (though in the original cut, she lived) as well as befriending a friendly garbage truck driver played by Frankie Faison.  Said driver is also killed which spurs our hero to do an A-Team number on the truck, fortifying it with armor and machine guns.

Part of the problem the film has is that first time director Buntzman makes it achingly clear that this is his first shot at directing.  Pacing is off, the performances are iffy (Faison is fun though and while he's not believable, van Peebles is energetic enough), and the action has a rather static feel to it that drags things down.  The music is also rather bad with only one bit of music that doesn't fit the film its in and is used constantly.

That being said, Exterminator 2 is rather enjoyable to watch.  The film is bad, yes, but there is enough mid-80's cheese and general oddness (Cannon had a real thing for break dancing and brightly attired gangs) and to an extent, this sort of plays out like a less sadistic and mean spirited Death Wish movie (sort of).  There are also some fun logic gaps relating to just how the hell the gang not only found out where Ginty's girlfriend lived but his first name as well.  It's a bad movie, but reasonably entertaining, illogical trash as well.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.