The Exterminator


directed by James Glickenhaus
released in 1980
duration 104 minutes
WARNING!!! This film review contains plot spoilers!

Robert Ginty stars as John Eastland, a Vietnam vet who has returned to the US to work in a logistics company. His buddy gets badly beaten by a group of thugs and is paralyzed. Eastland takes the justice into his own hands and starts to eliminate, or exterminate if you will, all kinds of mean criminals.

This is a bleak, dead serious vigilante movie that contains lots of sleaze. You know how the Dirty Harry movies starring Clint Eastwood contain some humour, however dark? Or the Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies, you know how there are some one-liners in their dialogue that are meant to lighten up the mood? The Exterminator is thoroughly pessimistic and keeps its relentless focus throughout the film. There is absolutely no humour here and I like it. The director James Glickenhaus has done a really good job with this movie.

For some reason, The Exterminator has always enjoyed a strong cult status in Finland, and it is indeed a good movie. It is not an excessively violent film, but not surprisingly, the censorship authorities have still persecuted The Exterminator. Most of the censored versions have removed explicit violence, but there is also a very interesting story to be told about the film's ending.

In the end, John Eastland manages to escape from the coppers and he runs away without getting punished. Some versions have removed the whole ending scene where Eastland gets away. That is fucking unbelievable stupidity! What a great example of ideological censorship. Some authorities have said: "This film teaches the audience a wrong kind of lesson. The vigilante gets away from the hands of the law. The ending must be removed!".

So you had better make sure to get the Director's Cut and you will be fine.

WARNING!!! Just like Lamberto Bava, James Glickenhaus is a "one hit wonder" director. Make sure to avoid his other films. In particular, Blue Jean Cop is a complete failure in every way. It is so fucking dull you will probably fall asleep when trying to watch it. Trust me.

copyright © 2010 Kalevi Kolttonen <>