"If you’re lying, I’ll be back"

No, that’s not a line from either of the ‘Terminator’ films. It’s from ‘The Exterminator’ (wonder if Schwarzenegger ever got round to watching this film…), a fantastic exploitation film from 1980, directed by James Glickenhaus and starring Robert Ginty (who also starred in the post apocalyptic Italian Sci-fi ‘Warrior Of The Lost World’, featured in an earlier post).
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Very much of it’s time (the American soldiers Vietnam experience is a theme of the film) and borrowing from other brutal revenge / vigilante films of the time (e.g. the Michael Winner / Charles Bronson ‘Death Wish’) ‘The Exterminator’ satisifies as a crude, violent action thriller.

The film kicks off in Vietnam, where John Eastland (Ginty) and his buddy Michael Jefferson (Steve James) are prisoner of the Vietcong. During this opening scene there is a brutal throat slahing / decapitation of an American soldier where the head flips back with the force of the blow (all captured in slow motion). It certainly grabs the attention (the effects were done by Stan Wilson, who later went on to work on blockbusters such as ‘Terminator 2’).

Eastland and Jefferson make it back from Vietnam, but find the seemingly lawless streets of New York as hazardous a terrain as Vietnam. It is here that a gang called the ‘Ghetto Ghouls’ take revenge on Jefferson for his part in foiling a robbery. This events leads Eastland on the path to revenge his friend, and it encompasses not only the ‘Ghetto Ghouls’, but Organised Crime as a whole, including protection racketeers, Mob bosses and leaders of child prostitution rings and their clients. There’s an FBI involvement in trying to track down the vigilante that doesn’t amount to much. The main action is centred around Eastland, and his vendetta. Its primal, thrilling stuff, seeing really bad people get really bad things done to them.

To dismiss this as a bad movie is a nonsense. It’s a tough thriller, with reasonable acting and fast pacing. Well worth a look.

There’s a couple of clips here of Eastland taking the law into his own hands, including the infamous ‘meat grinder scene’;

Meat Grinder Scene

Flame Thrower Scene

Links

The Exterminator on Wiki
Robert Ginty profile on Wiki

Reviews

Fast-Rewind review
BBC review

It left it’s mark. Apparently even Judge Dredds writers were inspired by ‘The Exterminator’ to produce a story called ‘The Executioner’, about a femal vigilante in Mega City One (as I recall, she was a trainee Judge at some point?).

The story raised questions about Dredd’s role as Judge, Jury & Executioner. Its reprinted several times – for more information;

2000ad The Executioner details

Post Apocalypse II

In a recent post I talked about my enthusiasm for the George Miller film ‘Mad Max II’, and how it spawned several derivitive Italian Sci-Fi / exploitation films in the early to mid 80’s. One of the lesser mentioned was ‘Warrior Of The Lost World’ and starred American actor Robert Ginty, star of the exploitation video classic ‘The Exterminator’ (more of that later).

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As we can see, the poster art is fantastic, and promises more than the low budget can deliver. We are talking low budget Italian exploitation at its cheapest and most absurd. You either get it or you don’t. I tend to love these things.

The film begins with a screen crawl (like the ones you see in the Star Wars films) thats HEAVY ON THE EXPOSITION. Check out the back story!!

“In another time,in a distant land… Generations after the radiation wars and the collapse of nations, government, finance, and communications, there came into existence a new Dark Age of Tyranny.
As each Sector adapted its’ own rules for survival, the evil despot PROSSOR brought to power a Congress to enforce his “Laws and Obligations” and armed a deadly Militia, The Omega, to destroy the Outsiders who were trying to establish a more tolerant society- The New Way.
The region beyond the control of The Omega is the Wasteland, a forbidden zone populated by roving tribes of desperate Marginals who engage in a barbaric struggle for territory and survival.
Meanwhile, high in the mountains, living among the ruins of past civilizations, dwells a small group of Mystics called the Enlightened Elders. It is here that the Outsiders, led by McWAYNE and his daughter NASTASIA gain inspiration in their struggle against PROSSOR and The Omega.
Now, into this time of conflict and rebellion, astride his supersonic speedcycle, rides one man… a fearless survivor, who was destined to become the…Warrior of the Lost world

Hmmm. Robert McGinty plays the titular ‘Warrior, aka ‘Rider’. He is a loner in a post apocalyptic world, just like Max Rockatansky (aka Mad Max). Where he differs from Max is that he doesn’t have a V8 Interceptor. He has a talking bike. Here they both are in action, being pursued by some of the generic biker bad guys that these movies love so much;

What a stroke of luck that the ‘Rider’ has a vehicle that produces subtitles on its little mounted screen. ‘Bingo’ indeed.

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The Omega (ie the bad guys) are a bit like Humungous and his crew, except that they (The Omega) never quite get it right like they got it right in Mad Max II. Donald Pleasance looks like his character ‘Blofeld’ from Dr No and adds a touch of class to this camp exploitation gubbins. The Omegas have a customised truck called the ‘Megaweapon’;

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This was how the Omegas enforced their law on the lawless post-apocalypse world. It was eventually sabotaged by ‘Rider’ by pulling out some circuits from ‘Megaweapons’ underbelly. Bit of an issue for the designers of the ‘Megaweapon’, that they had allowed Single Point of Failures into their creation.

This is one of those films that it is ‘so bad it’s good’. Worth hunting down. Also, Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured it as one of the films they viewed (and gently took the piss out of).

There are surprisingly a few reviews of the film out there;

Bad Movies review
Cold Fusion review

and Wikipedia has a page on it;

Wiki page on WOTLW

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As I mentioned earlier, I intend to write something about McGinty’s magnum opus, ‘The Exterminator’, soon.

The Creeps

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Please stick with me on this.

In the early 90’s there was a late night Channel Four show called ‘Manhattan Cable’, made by World of Wonder productions (WOW). It was introduced by Laurie Pike, and had RuPaul on it as a reporter. It featured clips of Public Access TV Broadcasts from the Manhattan area. There are a couple of clips that stick with me – one with a guy singing ‘Happy Birthday Filthy The Dog’ in a weird, muffled voice while spinning a camera around a dog (presumably the ‘Filthy’ the song was dedicated to). The other as a regular spot featuring a woman who would roll her eyes back and ‘channel’ the voices of the dead through her. The sound was a bit ‘hissy’ and the disturbing ‘voices’ emanating from this woman leaves quite an impression. You can check it out (in fact, you can check out some full length broadcasts of ‘Manhattan Cable’) here;

Manhattan Cable Episode 1

If I took the image away, and left the sound of that woman channelling the voices of the dead, then the effect would still be startling. It gives a feeling of unease, something that can’t quite be rationalised. I get the same feeling when I listen to clips of ‘Numbers Stations’. Its the sense that the sound is coming from a place you do not want to be at. It is the stuff of nightmares or disturbing dreams.

Numbers Stations – described as;

“… shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin. They generally broadcast voices reading streams of numbers, words, or letters (sometimes using a phonetic alphabet).

The voices that can be heard on these stations are often mechanically generated. They are in a wide variety of languages, and the voices are usually women’s, though sometimes men’s or children’s voices are used.

Evidence supports popular assumptions that the broadcasts are channels of communication used to send messages to spies. This has not been publicly acknowledged by any government that may operate a numbers station, but in one case, Cuban numbers station espionage has been publicly prosecuted in a United States federal court.[1]

Numbers stations appear and disappear over time (although some follow regular schedules), and their overall activity has increased slightly since the early 1990s. This increase suggests that as spy-related phenomena, they were not unique to the Cold War.

Number station characteristics vary greatly. Some follow strict schedules, whilst others may be at seemingly random times. The voices may read out numbers, letters, words, tunes or morse code. The voice reading the information may be automated or on-the-spot, it may be a young or old(er) person and may be male or female.”

(Source – Numbers Stations on Wiki)

There have been several instances of Numbers Stations being the inspiration for musicians;

Kraftwerk – Their song ‘Numbers’ (from the album ‘Computer World’) is influenced by numbers station transmissions.

Boards Of Canada – their work on a general level seems infused with the sense of unease and confusion that comes from listening to Numbers Stations transmissions. On a more specific level, the ‘Gyroscope’ track from ‘Geogaddi’ album is thought to contain a sample of a child counting provided by the Conet Project.

The ‘Conet Project’ (http://www.irdial.com/conet.htm)is a 4 cd collection of Numbers Station recording on the Irdial label, from where a lot of the recent interest in Numbers Stations has stemmed from.

Wilco – On their masterpiece ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ (the title itself is taken from a Numbers Station broadcast, which is sampled in the song ‘Poor Places’).

Pitchfork review of ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’

A Labyrinth 13 produciton all about Numbers Stations;

Achtung! Gong & Chimes Numbers Station from Labyrinth13 on Vimeo.

and then the same guys really sum up the sense of creeping dread with their ‘visual representation’ of the ‘Swedish Rhapsody’ – depending on your state of mind, it may not be advisable to view this on your own with the lights off at 3 in the morning – seriously;

Attention! Achtung! Atención! from Labyrinth13 on Vimeo.

To hear the ‘Swedish Rhapsody’ broadcast in audio only (courtesy of The Conet Project);
The Swedish Rhapsody