Archive for the Vigilantes Category

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: THE EXTERMINATOR (1980)

Posted in 1980s Movies, 2013, Action Movies, Crime Films, Cult Movies, Detectives, Exploitation Films, Gangsters!, Grindhouse Goodies, Nick Cato Reviews, Revenge!, Suburban Grindhouse Memories, Tough Guys!, Vengeance!, Vigilantes, VIOLENCE! with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2013 by knifefighter

Suburban Grindhouse Memories No. 64:
Flamethrowers, Meat Grinders, and State Senators…
By Nick Cato



 Released six years after DEATH WISH (1974) but two years before FIRST BLOOD (1982), 1980’s THE EXTERMINATOR is a combo of these two classics with a dash of TAXI DRIVER (1976) thrown in. I recently revisited this on DVD, but in the fall of 1980 (when I was in the 6th grade), me and a buddy managed to get into this violent R-rated flick one Saturday afternoon at the always reliable (and now defunct) Amboy Twin Cinema, Staten Island’s best bet of being admitted when you were underage.

After an opening flashback scene set in Vietnam (which features a grisly, non-CGI decapitation courtesy of FX whiz Stan (ALIENS) Winston), we flash forward to 1980 New York City. John Eastmand (played by popular TV star Robert Ginty) works at a meat packing plant along with his best friend Michael, who had saved his life in Vietnam. When they bust a group of thugs robbing beer from an adjacent warehouse, Michael again comes to John’s aid, but the gang follows Michael home and throws him a severe beating that leaves him paralyzed. Fueled by this event, and fed up with the state of the city’s crime rate in general, John goes on a mission first to get the guys who crippled his buddy, then wage all-out war against the mob, pimps, and all kinds of low lives.

John transforms into a vigilante a bit too quickly (in the scene immediately after he visits Michael in the hospital, John already has a gang member tied up and threatens him with a flame thrower). But this is a sleazy action flick, so subtly and character build-up be damned! His arsenal includes a .44 magnum with custom, poison-tipped bullets, an AK-47, and a foot locker full of military-issued hand grenades and knives.

Minutes later, John goes to the gang’s hideout (one is played by THE WARRIORS’ (1979) Irwin Keyes), tells the girls to leave, and then proceeds to shoot one thug and take two others hostage. But his partial-heart leads to one guy surviving, and one of the hookers he let go is interrogated by Detective James Dalton (played by Christopher George), who is on the trail of the vigilante the news has labeled “The Exterminator.” Former ABC-TV news anchor Roger Grimsby appears as himself during a newscast, giving the film a real-time feel (at least if you lived in NY at the time).

With the gang taken care of, John sets his eyes on a mob boss who has been shaking his employer down for years. He does some stake-out work and manages to drug him and drag him to an isolated warehouse, where he chains him from the rafters and dangles him over a huge meat grinder, then proceeds to shake him down for money to support his fallen friends’ family. After he gets the mobster’s keys, safe-lock combination, and a promise that there are no surprises at his house, John goes out to his NJ home and is attacked by a guard dog the gangster “forgot” to tell him about. Now severely ticked, John returns to the warehouse and lowers the Don into the meat grinder, and while nothing is shown (besides shadows and chop meat coming out of the bottom), the scene is still quite disturbing. It also received the loudest cheers from the evidently blood-thirsty (or justice-thirsty?) audience I was with.

In the second most memorable sequence, John visits a hooker (ala TAXI DRIVER) who gives him info on an underground operation that exploits young boys. John shows up at the illegal brothel and quickly destroys the place by burning the owner and shooting a freaky-looking pedophile in the groin (said pedophile is played by FRANKENHOOKER’s (1990) scene-stealing freak David Lipman). The pedophile also turns out to be the State Senator from New Jersey!

In-between investigating the vigilante killings, Detective James manages to find the time to date a doctor (played by Samantha Eggar). In one scene they meet for a late-night shag session in an empty hospital room, but as things heat up they’re interrupted by an alarm: it seems Michael’s ventilator has gone off, and little do the detective or doctor realize John had come by to help his buddy pull the plug on himself. This John’s a real angel of mercy I tell ya…

With plenty of shoot-outs, a motorcycle vs. car chase scene, a goofy side-plot involving the CIA that leads to a partially head-scratching finale, a poor old-woman getting a beat-down, and a nasty scene of the aforementioned State Senator burning/raping a hooker with a red-hot soldering iron, THE EXTERMINATOR is a trashy revenge/vigilante film that has developed quite a cult following over the years. And like most NY-lensed genre films from this time, there are plenty of shots of Times Square back in all its sordid glory, complete with pimps, hookers, and glorious theater marquees that will have cinema-philes hitting the pause button to read the film titles (of course we couldn’t do this in the theater so it was nice finally seeing what was playing!).

This is a genuine blast of old-school, politically incorrect action film-fare that has almost no conscience whatsoever, and it manages to work despite its ho-hum performances from most of the actors. Too bad the sequel, 1984’s THE EXTERMINATOR 2, failed to deliver the goods.

© Copyright 2013 by Nick Cato

John (Robert Ginty) about to make mince-meat out of a local mob boss in THE EXTERMINATOR.

John (Robert Ginty) about to make mincemeat out of a local mob boss in THE EXTERMINATOR.





Posted in 2011, CKF On the Edge, Dark Comedies, Extreme Movies, Gore!, Grindhouse, LL Soares Reviews, Vigilantes, VIOLENCE! with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by knifefighter

Movie review by L.L. Soares

When Rutger Hauer first appears, riding a train car into town, in HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, you have no idea how much of a wild ride you’re in for. Unless you know the movie’s backstory. Back in 2007, the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez team-up flick GRINDHOUSE was making the rounds, bringing back the movie double-feature and the spirit of the 1970s grindhouses. Part of the package was a bunch of fake trailers for totally insane movies. The funny thing is, some of these have been made into actual films. The first was Rodriguez’s MACHETE (2010). Now, we’ve got HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. If you don’t remember seeing that particular trailer when you saw GRINDHOUSE, it’s because the trailer only played in the Canadian version. But it’s been a Youtube  sensation since.

The beginning has a real 1970s vibe, from the music to the time-worn weariness of Hauer’s face in that boxcar. But that changes fast. I was kind of hoping for a homage to 70s vigilante flicks like DEATH WISH (1974) and WALKING TALL (1973), but HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN has more in common with those over-the-top Troma films of the 80s. In a way, I was sad to see it get so bizarre and unreal so quickly, in another way, it never stopped being a fun flick. And a big part of that is Hauer’s performance. You can tell this is a man who used to be an A-list actor, since fallen on hard times, just like that Hobo.

So Rutger Hauer walks into town, and finds himself in the middle of hell. The first person he sees is a guy filming bum fights, offering Hauer a ten dollar bill to join in. People openly brutalize other people in the streets, and the proceedings are lorded over by the town kingpin, Drake, who turns all this carnage into a kind of reality show. When someone crosses him, he puts a manhole cover around their necks, drops them into an open sewer, and then decapitates them using a barbed wire noose and the fender of a speeding car or motorcycle. His thug sons hold guns on the onlookers, demanding they applaud  the goings-on.

This sounds awful grim on paper (or on a computer screen), but it’s played so over-the-top that it’s downright cartoony (is that Troma honcho Lloyd Kaufman I see among the bystanders?), and that’s kind of what saves this film from being a complete downer.

The Hobo is one of the witnesses to “The Drake Show” and he is horrified by the utter anarchy that surrounds him. This is even worse than the Wild West. Anyone can die at any time, and many do. The majority of the populace are so horrified, they don’t lift a finger to stop things, and most of the police force are on Drake’s payroll.

The Hobo has a dream. He is going to buy a lawnmower at a local pawn shop. He is going to start his own business and stop traveling the rails. He is going to settle down and make a home for himself. What the hell is this guy thinking? This is not the kind of place where you settle down!

After being brutalized himself, and saving the life of a prostitute, who almost becomes another casualty at the hands of Drake’s son Slick (the other son, Ivan, is a complete idiot muscleboy who gets high on hurting people), the Hobo decides to fight back. Instead of that lawn-mower, he buys a shotgun on the wall for the same price. And then he goes about using it.

He starts to make news. He’s single-handedly starting to clean up this hellhole. One man begins to make a difference. Drake is so infuriated he first declares it open season on homeless people, hoping to get rid of the Hobo, then he hires a couple of metal-clad killers who call themselves The Plague to finish things (they look like two low-rent Iron Man wannabes).

The performances are actually pretty good for this kind of thing. I already sang the praises of Hauer, who is pretty much the main reason HOBO exists. Throughout this movie, I found myself wondering why we don’t see him more in big budget Hollywood pictures. He’s certainly good enough.

Brian Downey as the evil Drake is a force of nature. This is a role that is pretty one-dimensionally evil, and could be annoying, but Downey is just terrific. He pretty much steals every scene he’s in, and is a lot of fun, in his own psychotic way. A movie villain can make or break a movie like this, and Downey does his part to make HOBO work.

Molly Dunsworth, as the hooker Abby, is also pretty good. She’s the one Hauer’s hobo decides to protect, and while their relationship isn’t really a romantic one, she makes you believe that Hauer would be so concerned about her welfare. And when the going gets tough, she’s not afraid to help with the fighting.

Director Jason Eisener (with a script he wrote with John Davies and Rob Cotterill), took a simple concept, originally meant to be a joke, and turned it into an entertaining feature film. It’s not a great work of art, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a lot of gore and violence and vengeance, and we’ve seen this kind of thing before, but somehow, it works, in the same way that over-the-top gore cartoons that have been coming out of Japan lately, like TOKYO GORE POLICE and MACHINE GIRL (both from 2008) work. Live-action cartoons where anything can happen, and the camera lens gets splashed with blood a few times along the way.

If you’re into this kind of thing, then you’ll dig HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. It’s like eating your dessert before dinner, but don’t expect it to have much in the way of nutrients. If this sounds pretty awful to you, then just avoid it. It’s not meant for you, anyway.

Me, I give it three knives.

© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares

Note: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN has been playing some film festivals around the country and is currently available on cable OnDemand in some cities. I’m not sure if it will get an actual theatrical release or if it will go straight to DVD.

Rutger Hauer is mad as hell in HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN.

LL Soares gives HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN3 knives