Plot: John Eastland (Robert Ginty) endured some hellish experiences in Vietnam, including almost losing his life in a prison camp. But his life was saved by his friend Michael Jefferson (Steve James) and now back in New York, the two are closer than brothers. When Jefferson is badly beaten by a street gang known as the Ghetto Ghouls, Eastland vows to settle the score. He soon begins to take out thugs and criminals all over the city, ending them in vicious ways to send a message to the others. He even goes after high ranking mob bosses, turning one into human hamburger. These actions have made him into a folk hero to the public, who are glad someone is curbing crime, but the police see him as a dangerous presence. Detective Dalton (Christopher George) wants this vigilante behind bars, but he has a list of potential suspects in the thousands, so it won’t be easy. Will Eastland finish his march of violence against New York’s underworld, even with both crooks and cops against him?
Entertainment Value: I love movies about vigilante justice, so of course I have a soft spot for The Executioner. The story here is ideal for street justice, with a scarred veteran out to clean up the streets and get justice for one of his brothers in arms. The approach is a good one, since most vigilante movies seem to center on violence against the family, specifically wives or daughters. So the soldier bond offers a fresh feel and of course, the mental toll of war adds to the narrative. Robert Ginty is good in the lead, playing the hard working, blue collar guy pushed too far role well. He isn’t as charismatic or rough & tumble as some in the genre, but he has a dark edge. Christopher George is here as the detective who pursues him, then we have a colorful and varied assortment of hookers and street trash that populate the movie. This also has more of a horror movie slant than some in the genre, thanks to Ginty’s cold presence and the over the top nature of how he dispatches his enemies. I’d recommend this to both vigilante justice fans and horror movie fanatics, as it has plenty for both camps to like.
One girl shows her breasts, before and after they’re tortured by a sleazy creeper, while we also have the bare ass of a male sex captive. A bulletin board in one scene also shows a wealth of penises, so there’s that. Not much naked flesh, but we do have some great moments of violence. The infamous beheading scene at the film’s start still packs a gruesome punch, but that’s just the start. I love gushy gun wounds and the quibs here are packed with blood, so its quite a mess when the bullets start to fly. Some scenes are on the disturbing side but don’t have graphic bloodshed, such as turning the mob boss into hamburger and burning people alive. So the blood score here might not be super high, but rest assured, there is ample vigilante violence. The writing here is fine, but doesn’t yield a wealth of memorable or off the wall lines. A few here and there, but the serious tone and steady narrative keep the wacky dialogue to a minimum. The violence level is high, but that is part of the genre’s appeal and The Exterminator plays within the normal boundaries of vigilante flicks. It still has some crazy moments to be sure, but doesn’t run off the rails often.
Overall Insanity: 2/10