Plot: What’s it about?
John Eastland (Robert Ginty) is a Vietnam veteran, a man who was held as a prisoner of war in a brutal Vietcong prison camp location. The only reason he is a free man today is because his best friend and fellow veteran Michael (Steve James) was able to fight back against their guards and clear an escape for both men. To say the two men have a strong bond is an understatement and even once they returned home, they remained close friends. When the friends witness a theft in progress, they fend off the street thugs, but that isn’t the end of things. The thugs track down Michael and throw a vicious beating on him, leaving him paralyzed from the abuse. This enrages John, who unleashes a tidal wave of vigilante justice on the streets of New York City, cutting a blood soaked path through the criminals. While the public considers him a hero and brands him the Exterminator, the police want to bring him down to protect public safety. Will John take his tour of duty against New York’s underworld too far, or is he just a misunderstood man who want to see justice done?
Once again, Synapse Films has rolled out the red carpet for a cult classic. The Exterminator has been restored to the director’s cut of the film, cleaned up and restored in high definition, given a loss-less soundtrack, and some nice supplements. So we know this release is dressed to the nines, but what about the movie itself? The Exterminator gives us a solid vigilante plot angle, some great shots of New York City, some brutal violence, and a knockout conclusion. The violence isn’t that extreme by modern standards, but it was at the time and there was quite a backlash over the film’s content. Some of the scenes hold up well, especially a throat slice that packs a punch even now. The film also knows when to show the gore and when to let the audience fill in the blanks, so its not all mindless violence. The Exterminator is a lot of fun for genre fans and while not a masterpiece, it is well made and has earned its spot as a cult classic. Synapse has given the film the royal treatment with this release, so if you’re interested in The Exterminator, this is the version you’ll want to pick up.
Video: How does it look?
The Exterminator is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. This version sports a restored, high definition treatment that is sure to delight fans to no end. While some source limitations are evident, this transfer looks excellent and should surpass even the most critical fan’s expectations. The print looks cleaner than I’ve ever seen, with a good amount of detail that makes previous releases obsolete. The contrast is smooth and consistent, so even dark scenes retain solid detail, while colors are natural, if a touch faded here and there. Some minor quibbles aside, this is a great looking visual treatment that Synapse deserves some immense credit for crafting.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 2.0 stereo soundtrack is probably as good as this film will ever sound. This track still has some foibles related to production limitations, but this is a very good presentation. Of course, this isn’t an explosive, blow down the doors kind of track, but it handles the needs of the material well. The audio is clean and clear above all else, which makes it an instant improvement over all previous incarnations. The sound is solid from start to finish, with no serious complaints to lodge. This release also includes a lossless mono soundtrack as well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In addition to the director’s cut of the film and a DVD version of the film, we also have a few other extras. James Glickenhaus provides a worthwhile session of audio comments, while other supplements include some television spots and the film’s theatrical trailer.