Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Kill For Peace

I recently reviewed Synapse's new Blu-ray of James Glickenhaus' 1980 urban thriller THE EXTERMINATOR for the Micro-Film News Blog. Now to review Manor Books' 1980 novelization of Glickenhaus' screenplay.

THE EXTERMINATOR, the book version, was penned by Peter McCurtin, a very prolific paperback author whose work I've written about many times. Unsurprisingly, McCurtin imbues THE EXTERMINATOR with the same blunt style he used when writing about the Marksman, the Assassin, the Sharpshooter, and other men's action antiheroes.

See my film review for background and plot information. McCurtin more or less follows Glickenhaus' film closely with a few notable exceptions. The most glaring is the scene in which the Exterminator, a New York City vigilante named John Eastland, has kidnapped a New Jersey mobster named Pontivini and bound him in chains about a meat grinder. In both the film and book, Pontivini lies about having an attack dog at his estate when he gives Eastland the safe combination so Eastland can rob him. This leads to a crowdpleasing moment in the film when Eastland returns, now pissed about being chewed up by Pontivini's snarling Doberman, and smacks the button lowering the mobster into the grinder, resulting in a closeup of Hamburger Pontivini. In the book, strangely, when Eastland returns, Pontivini is already dead of a heart attack. I'm not sure why McCurtin would do this.

One scene created by McCurtin finds Eastland kidnapping Shecky (!), a dealer of illegal weapons, and stealing a cache of weapons he plans to use in his armed war against crime. Granted, this scene could have been written but not filmed by Glickenhaus. It's unclear whether McCurtin had seen THE EXTERMINATOR when he wrote the book. It's very doubtful he had, and he was probably working from a script draft.

Like the film that spawned it, THE EXTERMINATOR is tough and brutal with terse dialogue and sleazy violence. Obviously, that's a recommendation, though if you're familiar with the movie, there isn't much in McCurtin's novel that will surprise you.

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