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The Exterminator (1980)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  19 September 1980 (USA)
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A man's best friend is killed on the streets of New York. The man (Robert Ginty) then transforms into a violent killer, turning New York into a great war zone and Christopher George is the only one to stop him.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Detective James Dalton
Dr. Megan Stewart
Michael Jefferson
Tony DiBenedetto ...
Chicken Pimp (as Toni Di Benedetto)
Dick Boccelli ...
Gino Pontivini
Patrick Farrelly ...
CIA Agent Shaw
Michele Harrell ...
Maria Jefferson
David Lipman ...
The State Senator from New Jersey
Cindy Wilks ...
Roger Grimsby ...
Judy Licht ...
Stan Getz ...
Vietcong Leader (as George Lee Cheung)


When John Eastland's best friend, Michael Jefferson, is mugged and left permanently crippled, he decides to do something about it. Jefferson had saved Eastland's life in Vietnam and now it's time for Eastland to get revenge for his friend. Using his old Army gear he sets out on a crusade to clean up the streets of New York using the name "The Exterminator." Written by David Bongo <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


If you're lying, I'll be back... See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Exterminator  »

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(director's cut) | (original uncut)

Sound Mix:

(Dolby Stereo)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In Craig Hamrick's biography of actor Louis Edmonds (Big Lou), he says that Edmonds has a one-minute cameo as a CIA chief. See more »


At the very beginning, when Eastland's friend saves him from an imminent beheading, they fire on an enemy soldier standing at the water's edge. The man is blown backwards not by the impact of the bullet but from a clearly seen rigged see saw that throws him into the air. See more »


Marty: I'm sorry about this mornin', alright? I mean, we didn't hurt *you*! Shit man, that guy, he was just a nigger!
John Eastland: That *nigger* was my best friend, you motherfucker!
[Bashes Marty's head in]
See more »

Crazy Credits

"The producer" is credited as burping ghoul See more »


References Love and Bullets (1979) See more »


Disco Inferno
Written by Leroy Green (as Leroy Gree) and Ron Kersey (as Ron (Have Mercy) Kersey)
Performed by The Trammps
Licensed by Atlantic Recording Corporation
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

It was fair… could have been better, though.
23 November 2005 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

In New York John Eastland an Vietnam Veteran turns vigilante when his best friend/Vietnam buddy is attacked by a group of thugs and left paralysed. Since his buddy saved his life in Vietnam, he thought he should do him a favour. So John becomes a one-man show and goes out and gives some of his own justice to these lowlifes. After taking care of that gang, he sets his sights higher, by trying to bring down the city's seedy and dark underground. He calls himself the Exterminator, but police see him as nothing than a psychopathic killer, but the CIA and Government officials see him more as a threat because they believe he could undermine an entire government administration. The media and public, see him as a (anti) hero and these corrupt officials don't want that.

This is one of the many vigilante/exploitation films that flooded the screens within 70's and 80's period… thanks to "Death Wish", which were only meant to shock you with relentless violence and grit. Well, this supposedly DVD I watch claims to be the director's cut, but some sequences definitely feel like they were trimmed… unless that was the director's choice, but I doubt it because they felt odd and was mostly around the violence.

Anyway what we got here is a remotely entertaining low-budget vigilante piece, but really it's nothing we haven't seen before. If your expecting a whole lotta' graphic violence, you might be disappointed as it was rather tame in spots where it could have been grisly to watch. But saying that it does have a couple of shocking moments, but really not enough to make it stand out from the rest of its field. It was rather comic book style violence, with it being more nasty than bloody. What makes it a little tiresome is that a lot of time it skews away from our vigilante doing his work, in favour for a budding romance between a cop and doctor, it just didn't add anything, well not for me. It could have scrap that idea and delve more into the Exterminator's psyche, or please more gripping action. Yes action, the film just lacked something big… I was hoping for more. Especially when we are thrown right into the action when the film begins, but I was sorely disappointed and the exploitative nature was just uneven and what was the deal with the wrenching images. Sometimes the material tries too hard to be moving and have a softer side. It just didn't work for me. You just think, oh this going to be great, with some promising torture scenes and tussles, but honestly you feel short changed with the outcome of most, as there seems to be more of a focus on the aftermath. What didn't help was that some moments are actually unintentionally humorous. But on the other hand there are some nice ideas in the bunch, but it just could've been executed in a better fashion. The plot tries to cover some social discussions involving the Vietnam War, Cheap labour, street crime, media, child prostitution corrupt officials and plenty of wry humour mixed in. Although, there's nothing about these messages that are exceptional or haven't been handled better.

What blew me away was that director James Glickenhaus pulls you into the seedy and dirty streets of New York. He truly makes the raw environment an unpleasant experience to view, along with the scum who walk it. Camera work was potent with some well established shots, with plenty of close ups and fast moving shooting. Also the director loved his slow-mow! Soundtrack was very 70's. A sample of the decade indeed. But there are some odd song choices in certain parts of the film, but they were reasonably groovy and swinging in mood. Although, the editing was annoying at times, it was real choppy and because of that there's several incoherent sequences and stuff left up in the air. Just like the unthinkable ending (that took me by the blue), which is messily put together. Performances are fair, even if Robert Ginty is bland as the crusader and Christopher George makes the most of his character. Though, those people playing the CIA agents really hammed it up with inane dialogue and hilarious appearances.

Mediocre at best, with some heart pounding moments and clever touches, but I just thought it could've been far better. Maybe I was expecting too much? Nonetheless, it did its job by keeping me entertained for the odd 90 minutes or so. That's good enough for me.

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