July 12th, 2013

EXTERMINATOR 2 (1984) ***

The Exterminator, John Eastland (Robert Ginty) is back! This time out, he’s busy barbecuing street punks with his trusty flamethrower. When Eastland sautés the brother of a ruthless gang leader named “X” (Mario Van Peebles), he retaliates by paralyzing Eastland’s girlfriend. This makes The Exterminator so mad that he installs gun turrets on his dump truck and sets out to wipe the scum off the streets.

Exterminator 2 is no Exterminator 1, but director/co-writer Mark Buntzman does some interesting things with the usual formula. I liked the way he split the screen time between Exterminator and X (which is similar to how the detective’s search for The Exterminator complimented Eastland’s storyline in the first film). It’s interesting to note that X’s character arc mirrors Eastland somewhat. Once The Exterminator kills his brother, X retaliates by killing his girlfriend (and best friend too), so both men are basically products of revenge. Both men are also prone to overkill too. X butchers his first victim by electrocuting him, and then his body is thrown in front of a speeding subway car. And in the end, The Exterminator kills X by setting off an explosive which propels his body through the air and onto a spike.

Exterminator 2 was a Cannon production, which automatically makes it worth watching in my book. It’s easy to see that Golan-Globus were out to recapture the magic of Death Wish 2 with this film. In fact, the flick often feels like the missing link between Death Wish 2 and 3. Like Death Wish 2, the film finds our hero squaring off against a gang of thugs instead of just some isolated bad guys. But while these thugs seem ordinary at the outset, they soon start wearing war paint and football pads, which makes them more in line with the cartoonish villains in Death Wish 3. Another notable Cannon touch: Nearly wall-to-wall breakdancing.

If you’re chief complaint about the first movie was that The Exterminator didn’t use the flamethrower, you’ll probably give Part 2 an instant ****. Not even 3 minutes into the movie, he flambés some bad guys. Personally, I was never bothered by the lack of flamethrower kills in the first movie. I mean that image of Exterminator with the flamethrower on the poster and video box is one of the great iconic images of exploitation cinema. The problem is that in Part 2, he kills people with his flamethrower and little else. Oh sure, he does customize his garbage truck with machine turrets in the end, but overall the kills lack the inventiveness of the first film.

As much fun as Exterminator 2 is, it really falls apart in the second half. The extended chase between Exterminator and X goes on far too long, and the flick suffers from some poor editing; especially in the truck scenes. Buntzman was fired from the film and director William (The Incredible Melting Man) Sachs was hired to do a lot of reshoots, so that probably accounts for the choppiness of the finale.

Robert Ginty is once again excellent as John Eastland. Some of the material with his crippled girlfriend veers into Lifetime Channel territory, but he still delivers the goods. And you could easily tell Mario Van Peebles was going to be a star from his work here. He exudes charisma and is a more than worthy adversary for Ginty. The flick also boasts a colorful supporting cast featuring such familiar faces as Frankie Faison, Aryre Gross, and Irwin Keyes. And if you blink, you’ll miss John Turturro.

Exterminator 2 is not the exploitation classic the original film was, but it remains a worthy sequel and a solidly entertaining revenge flick.

You should also check out Comeuppance Reviews’ Ty and Brett’s spot-on review for the film: http://www.comeuppancereviews.com/2011/04/exterminator-2-1984.html

ALIENATOR (1990) ** ½

A wanted criminal (Ross Hagen) escapes Space Jail just before being executed and heads to Earth in a stolen spaceship. Space Warden Jan-Michael Vincent sends a female killing machine (played by bodybuilder Teagan) after him. A bunch of annoying campers wind up in her crosshairs and it’s up to a Forest Ranger (John Phillip Law) to protect them.

The pre-title sequence of Alienator had a lot of promise. There are plenty of laughable special effects (the forced perspective shots are awful), hilarious costumes (especially on P.J. Soles), and terrible acting (get a load of Vincent’s granite-faced “emoting”). This scene had me secretly hoping that Alienator was going to be Fred Olen Ray’s Plan 9 from Outer Space.

As it turns out, it’s more like his Astounding She-Monster. (In fact, the flick often feels like a very loose remake of that film.) Like The Astounding She-Monster, Alienator suffers from a lot of padding (the opening credits sequence goes on forever) and too many side characters. The film also goes on about one reel too long. Had it ended at around the 75 minute mark, Alienator could’ve been a mini-camp masterpiece. As it is, it’s an overlong, undercooked, but moderately entertaining Ray opus.

Most of my enjoyment came from seeing the amazing cast trying to keep a straight face. It’s fun enough seeing Ray regulars like Ross Hagen and Jay Richardson rubbing elbows with the likes of fan favorites like Joe Pilato and P.J. Soles. Of course, Teagan steals the show as the title character. Dressed like a cross between a punk rocker and a professional wrestler, Teagan actually gets out-acted by her costume. But since the costume is AWESOME, it’s all good. And I thought Law did a good job all things considered. In fact, you could probably watch this back-to-back with Space Mutiny, and you’d have yourself a hilarious John Phillip Law Sci-Fi double feature.

Check out Ryan C.’s great write-up of the film here: http://unobtainium13.com/2013/03/26/alienator-fred-olen-ray-gives-the-terminator-a-sex-change/