The Exterminator: when his best friend, and fellow ‘Nam veteran, is killed by street punks one man goes on a vigilante rampage by baiting and killing the scum of New York. Unlike most of the ‘notorious’ video nasties this one feels like it ‘s actually worthy of the infamy; it gets pitch-black dark in places; the violence is slow and extreme; and is all the more effective for having such a baby-faced normal-looking everyman in the main role. There are however a couple of aspects that let the film down: in particular the comically stereotypical ‘street punks’ that have drug and sex parties in crack dens, and the action scenes feel very ‘budgety’ – particularly in the finale. The character development feels a touch over-egged as the plot focuses on the Anti-Hero and main policeman sharing some clunky similarities. It’s definitely a film of its era, with a thick layer of Post-Vietnam / ‘veterans in society’ commentary, as well as capturing the seedy streets of New York during its most dangerous period. Overall, The Exterminator is a film that has a message, and although it’s not particularly insightful, there are enough shocks and attitude to pull it off.
Maniac (Original – 1980): A psychopathic killer is on a spree in New York, terrorising and scalping the public. This one bursts out the gates with two pretty graphic murders, and is evenly punctuated with some full-on eye-opening, jaw-dropping gore throughout. Once scene in particular had me completely shocked – which is a total rarity. Joe Spinell puts in a top shift as the unhinged lead; switching from feral, deranged and demented through to normal, vulnerable, childlike, and charming. The audio helps emphasise the unsettling vibes the movie gives, with creepy internal dialogue and an off-kilter synth/electro track for tension building. It’s visually strange too, with creepy mannequins, seedy New York locations, and a bizarrely open ending. Put this all together and you have a film that’s way above the standard of the genre, and arguably beyond the taste of other slashers from this era. Dark, completely bonkers, and still genuinely shocking 35 years on; Maniac is a thoroughbred slasher film that’s difficult to enjoy, easy to appreciate – but ultimately hard to recommend to anyone that doesn’t like video nasties.
Surf Nazis Must Die: after an earthquake lays California to waste its beaches become overrun by feuding surfer factions; the meanest of which are the surf Nazis – but when they kill the wrong man, his grandmother wages a one-OAP-War against the them. If you think that plot sounds terrible, wait ‘til you see the film. Several scenes try to live up to the title by attempting to be outrageous – flippant racism and the single most gratuitous softcore boobs in B movie history – but it comes across as lazy. This is absolutely crammed with bad script, bad acting, bad editing, bad plot, bad ‘action’, and completely devoid of gore… congratulations, you’ve taken all of the elements of a classic B/Cult movie, yet made something that barely qualifies as watchable. For an 83 minute film, at least 20 mins could be cut and not affect the ‘story’. It also looks and feels like it was made for $50. My biggest question is that when the Nazis can dispose of gangs of badass bikers, agile Parkour, Deadly Ninjas and Speedy Skaters – yet they struggle with one vigilante granny?!!? Given the reputation and notoriety of a 28-year old B-Movie that’s stuck around for the duration, I was expecting so much more. Goes to show how much a wild title and sweet poster can do for a movie. A terrible, lazy, attempt at shoxploitation; where the only shock is how it even got a release.
You should not be allowed to make shit films with such awesome titles!