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Traumafessions:: Unk on Vice Squad, Silent Rage, 10 to Midnight and The Exterminator

June 20th, 2008 by unkle lancifer · 15 Comments

While the preteen Unkle Lancifer spent his pale-skinned youth devouring every horror movie available at the local video shop, his older, more violent siblings lived on a steady diet of martial arts and action movies. In the early part of the 1980s, the slasher tide was so high that it couldn’t help bleeding into these other genres. Lines blurred and soon throwing a showcase decapitation into a garden variety revenge flick was considered not only appropriate, but also a wise investment. That meant that some of the action movies that my brothers subjected me to were at least as violent as the horror flicks I was obsessed with and some, I must say, were even more so. The high school halls, small town homes and scenic wooded campsite locations of my beloved slashers were positively serene compared to the urban sleaze environments that most of these exploitation pictures took place in. Truth be told, they touched on similar issues of revenge, redemption and empowerment, but their moral compasses were almost always unreliable and sometimes completely M.I.A. Were people really accusing movies like HELL NIGHT where LINDA BLAIR as “Marty” repaired her own escape vehicle of misogyny when in the theater next door, an underage street prostitute was being tortured with a Vaseline dipped soldering iron? Go figure. Ironically some of these flicks had the power to disturb me far more than any of the horror movies I was watching at the time. Although both genres delighted in mayhem and leading the viewer into someplace dark, these guys sometimes left you there without a flashlight!


Directed by DEAD AND BURIED‘s GARY SHERMAN, VICE SQUAD rarely shows any actual violence but the inevitability of it hangs over all its proceedings like a heavy fog thanks to the tour de force career defining performance of WINGS HAUSER as psycho pimp Ramrod. Relentless, sick and brutal, Ramrod operates like a human terminator with his sites set on ho killing and not much else. Not many films can make the claim of producing their chills by one performance alone, but WINGS‘ efforts here are so unflinching and seamless that you can only tense up in recognition of his authenticity. He’s that gym coach who’s about to snap, your friend’s abusive father, the weird gun collecting neighbor that keeps vigil at his window just waiting for some kid to step on his lawn, a true blue time bomb built to ignite. Filmed almost entirely on location, VICE SQUAD in general has a raw energy almost as vibrant as HAUSER‘s. It revels in the dog-eat-dog, kill-or-be-killed red light district nightlife whose denizens wake up knowing each day may be their last. The climax does sort of degenerate into a standard cops and robbers shoot out, but that in no way erases the unquestionable power of all that proceeded. Laced with highly quotable dialogue, (“Blink your eyes and you die in the dark!,” a pre-SUDDEN IMPACTMake my day!“), to die for cameos, (FRED “Rerun” BERRY, CHERYL RAINBEAUX SMITH and first-generation MTV V.J. NINA BLACKWOOD getting the wire hanger treatment!) and a rare opening and closing credits song sung by the movie’s villain, (NEON SLIME, download it HERE). VICE SQUAD may not be horror but thanks to WINGS, it scared the crap out of me.

What’s to be afraid of when the infallible multi-talented legend CHUCK NORRIS is around to save the day with a few karate chops? Well, thanks to one of the worst decisions in medical history, an insane, dead psychopath who just hacked to death two people with an axe is given a second shot at slaughter thanks to an under-explained experimental drug that makes him invulnerable. (SILENT doesn’t insult your intelligence, it just ignores it completely). Cribbing left and right from HALLOWEEN, SILENT RAGE gives us a speechless maniac complete with coveralls and P.O.V. camera shots, and throws in a victim hanging on a door for good measure. By golly there’s even a hypodermic needle kill a’la HALLOWEEN 2! Face it kids, this is more of a HALLOWEEN sequel than HALLOWEEN 3 (or 5 for that matter). The CARPENTER cribbing takes a momentary break when CHUCK clears out a local bar full of rowdy raping and pillaging bikers, but it isn’t long before we’re back in the hack-and-slash saddle again. As far as action horror hybrids go, this is pretty much the pinnacle. Why its formula was not repeated a dozen more times I will never understand. You’re basically getting CHUCK NORRIS vs. MICHAEL MYERS here. If you want any more out of life, you’re just being greedy. How does CHUCK get rid of this non-stop killing machine? Why he throws him down a well that looks an awful lot like the one our SHATNER-mugged buddy ended up in at the end of HALLOWEEN 4, which SILENT predates by a good six years. Now who’s stealing from whom?

TRAUMAFESSIONS never lie and I have to agree with Richard from DOOMEDMOVIETHON that 10 TO MIDNIGHT really delivered the creeps, at least back in the day. CHARLES BRONSON stars as a cop on the hunt for a Ted Bundy like murderer (he drives a V.W.!) who’s got some serious issues with women. Most of the ensuing savagery can be blamed on BRONSON‘s shoddy police work. Planting evidence is fine, but admitting to it so that the crazy killer is allowed back on the streets is just all kinds of dumb. 10’s murders are particularly sadistic and focus on the victims’ horror of what is about to happen to them. The scene that Richard cites in his TRAUMAFESSION is exactly the one that gets to me. I’m all for people getting murderized on screen, but when you have to hear them crying and begging for their lives before hand it really takes the fun out! But let’s get down to brass tacks shall we? All of this is all the more disturbing because the killer insists on operating completely in the nude. Yes, even your Unkle Lancifer has some sense of propriety. Attacking coed nurses without a traditional mask on is forgivable, but at least put a towel on!


O.K., this vigilante DEATH WISH rip off is one that really got to me, and for the life of me I could not remember why. All I could remember was the gruesome beheading in the first scene that presumably spurs the EXTERMINATOR‘s revenge driven nature. Now I understand my brain in all its wisdom blocked out the rest because THE EXTERMINATOR is just one f’d up movie. Thankfully, my adult mind can also now decipher that it is also a highly ridiculous movie. That first beheading is still a doozy, credited to both our pal TOM BURMAN and the recently deceased STAN WINSTON, it’s just about as realistic as it can get. The way the severed head just flops to the side? It’s seriously twisted and it’s made all the more grim because it’s a war scene and the movie hasn’t completely destroyed its credibility yet. I don’t mean to be too harsh on THE EXTERMINATOR, but I can’t help approaching it like a bully that I have suddenly grown taller than. All the sadistic gruesome kills are present and accounted for, including a death by lowering someone into a meat-grinder, but now that I see THE EXTERMINATOR‘s apartment I can only chuckle.
Who is his decorater? Henrietta Hippo from THE NEW ZOO REVIEW?

Granted it’s still pretty harrowing when we have to witness a prostitute’s torture by a fat balding New Jersey congressman or an old lady getting kicked in the stomach and her glasses stomped on, but it’s all kind of tempered by the sight of CHRISTOPHER GEORGE cooking a hot dog with a MacGyver device he created out of a reading lamp and two forks. Have I told you lately how much I love CHRISTOPHER GEORGE (GRIZZLY, PIECES, GATES OF HELL)? If I had to see him paired up with someone (other than LYNDA DAY GEORGE and besides myself) SAMANTHA EGGAR (THE BROOD) would be my first choice. Well, here she is folks, but don’t get too excited, she shows up to join GEORGE for a late night picnic in the park and to give some absurd medical advice and then she just up and disappears. I thought for sure she’d get tangled in THE EXTERMINATOR’s web or at least put in harm’s way in some capacity, but no dice. Did she wisely quit mid-production? It makes sense because this movie uses so many weird voice overs and drastic leaps forward in time that it seems they had to just make do with what little they had. Which brings me to my major beef with THE EXTERMINATOR, whenever he wants to kill someone, they just appear before him tied up in some warehouse and the movie never deigns to show you how he got them there. If it were that easy I’d try my hand at being a vigilante too. Ultimately, THE EXTERMINATOR is some pretty shoddy, poorly put together trash, but I have to give it credit for following its strong suits and keeping the shock devices coming at regular intervals. It also has one of the coolest movie posters ever made even though the guy never really uses a flame thrower in the movie…

I’m sorta disappointed that THE EXTERMINATOR over the years has somehow slid into camp. I was kinda hoping for that nauseated, itching-to-turn-the-damn-thing-off feeling that I hardly get any more unless I’m watching SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH reruns at seven in the morning. I was going to say they just don’t make um’ like these anymore, but then I remembered RAMBO was just in the multiplexes…I love you SLY but you’re no CHRISTOPHER GEORGE!

What say you? Do you guys have any action flicks that gave you a trauma-wedgie? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll get my big brothers to beat them up after school!

Tags: Repeat Offenders · Traumafessions

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jeff AllardNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 2:29 am

    What an incredible line-up! They really knew how to make hardcore action movies back in the early ’80s, didn’t they? I haven’t seen Vice Squad in years so I can’t comment on it except to say I remember it being incredibly disturbing! As for the others, they’re all great!

  • 2 IrvingWallaceNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 3:01 am

    I love the Exterminator!! one of my fav movies, i even have Robert Ginty’s autograph!
    Some other flicks that giv ME an ultra trauma turn on are: of course Exterminator 2, Future Kill, Class of 1984, Class of Nuke em High and Toxic Avenger!!!

  • 3 sbdNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 5:09 am

    I’ve always had a problem with movies that have villains who are cooly and even casually ruthless – such movies almost always give said villain ample opportunity to show the audience what a rat bastard he is and force the viewer to actually root for and even long for his eventual demise.  Now this may seem backward, but I don’t mind rooting for the death of the innocents in slasher movies because they are almost always too dumb to live in the first place, but being forced to hate an otherwise intelligent human being really rankles.  That’s why I’m not too fond of Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, and Steven Segal movies plus the Lethal Weapon and Die Hard films and their many copiers.  I’m even put off by a number of Harrison Ford movies for this same reason.
    As far as the all time offender goes though, I’d have to say Rutger Hauer seems to have the best chops for playing the most stone cold mo-fo’s on the screen.  His most chilling role for me was as Wulfgar the terrorist in Nighthawks.  One scene I don’t seem to be able to purge from my head is when he’s got a bunch of people hostage on a tram and has a face-off with Sylvester Stallone (in a helicopter) and smiling, just up and shoots a lovely young woman to show he means business (and because Stallone tries to intimidate him by flying too close to the tram – good job, Sylvester!).  He subsequently just tosses the dead woman out of the tram to fall into the water below.  If you like this type of movie it’s a must see, though, just for the bumbling around and angst of Stallone and Billie Dee Williams up until the end, which I have to admit, has the best payoff of any movie of this genre.

  • 4 mamamiasweetpeachesNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Wow…I went into this thinking you were gonna ramble off a bunch of titles I had seen already: Surprisingly, I have only seen VICE SQUAD! Can’t wait to see if the other titles are on NETFLIX (or even on DVD for that matter). I remember going through a weird Horror hiatus where I was buying all these weird DEATH WISH-wanna-be’s on VHS from eBay. It amazes me that movies from the ’70s were so violent and ugly! I have always had a soft spot for the Angry Pimp ones and the Blaxpoitation ones (Love the Pam Grier ones!) Seeing that I’m a woman a lot of my friends look at me funny when they find out I like to watch movies that have dialogue such as “My hos better have my money!”

  • 5 turnidoffNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Seeing that Vice Squad piece reminds me of the most over-rented video from my childhood… “Terror In The Isles” 

    Not sure if you guys have done a post on that, but every film shown in that movie gave me the willies.  Heck, It even made “Klute” seem scary! 

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 11:08 am

    IW, I almost did CLASS OF 1984, that’s a great one and like THE EXTERMINATOR has one of my all time favorite posters. We’ll try to get to it soon. I remember the rape of the teacher’s wife being particularly disturbing.

    SBD, NIGHT HAWKS may be the Ultimate of these films, Good call. RUTGER is cold as ice in that movie!

    MAMA, glad to get a women’s perspective. I think these movies are considered almost offensive to women these days, I guess they forget there are gals like you and PAM GRIER who can hold their own!

    Turnidoff, TERROR IN THE ISLES! How great is that one? I can almost hear the song from the montage at the end in my head!

  • 7 mamamiasweetpeachesNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Anyone who likes CLASS OF 1984 should check out SAVAGE STREETS , where a Totally ’80s Linda Blair goes vigilante and chases a bunch of Bad Guys around with a cross-bow.

    OhmyGod…and my FAVORITE – SWITCHBLADE SISTERS! Now THAT movie rocks!

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    MAMA, like all things Linda Blair touches, SAVAGE STREETS is awesome, I have to track that down and watch it again. Plus you just reminded me of The ANGEL trilogy, “high school honor student by day, Hollywood hooker by night!” Damn, where have all the hooker movies gone?

  • 9 mamamiasweetpeachesNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    oh yeah- I went crazy and got all the ANGEL movies awhile back (wasn’t it funny how “Angel” was never played by the same chick twice?) and the first one is almost LAUGHABLE – her charactor is a hooker, and yet “Angel” DOESN’T HAVE SEX WITH ANYBODY!

    That movie was BAD in that it coulda been a lot edgier and darker…but now thinking back, I’m sure it’s unintentionally goofy….and now I feel like finding it and renting it again!

  • 10 mrcanacornNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    A pitch perfect post, Uncle L.!  It’s funny you mentioned Ramrod…he’s my Man-Up Monday go to guy next week!  Great minds do think alike!

    My step-dad took me to see 10 To at the theater…I was 11!!  No wonder I’m so screwy.

    SR and Exterminator were both cable favorites growing up…and nice call including the “BastardPieces clip!

  • 11 micksterNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    I remember scenes from Vice Squad in the cool clip movie Terror in the Aisles, but I didn’t know that was the name. It was one of the movies that I would say to myself, “What is that movie?” Most of the other movie clips I could figure out.
    Now 10 to Midnight I vividly remember watching late night on HBO at my older sister’s house in the early eighties. I was probably about 12 years old, so I was being sneaky watching it. Anytime I heard a noise I would quickly change channels, so I wouldn’t get caught. I found the killer extra disturbing because he was naked. The part at the end when the killer is chasing Charles Bronson’s daughter down the alley was especially scary to me.

  • 12 sbdNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Another I should’ve mentioned is STREETS (1990).  Gotta love a psycho cop with a silencer shotgun.  Also,  Christina Applegate’s boobs have a pivotal part in the film so there’s not too much to dislike about this one.

  • 13 IrvingWallaceNo Gravatar // Jun 20, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Suburbia (1984), one of the greatest movies ever made IMO. Runaway Punks form a group called TR (The Rejected) and live together in an abandoned house, the towns people hate them and want them gone. Conflict ensues. Along with:
    -Concert Rape
    -Performances by punk bands TSOL, Vandals And DI
    -Real Punks are more than half the cast!
    -a dog attacks a baby
    -garage raids!
    -every line in the movie is a memorable quote:
    “Later Days”, “Chicken Butt!”, “Wake up and smell the coffee man”, “I hate buses”…
    -Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers
    -the showdown ending!!!

  • 14 GrokensteinNo Gravatar // Jun 24, 2008 at 5:23 am

    Silent Rage is a howler on many counts; Chuck’s sidekick/deputy/Odious Comic Relief is “Flounder” from Animal House, and quite simply pathetic in every second of celluloid in which he appears; Ron Silver’s wide-eyed “corpse,” hung on a door, flinches as the door is swung a leeetle too close to the wall; and the very first on-screen murder, when a guy reacts to having a hatchet buried in his skull by spinning to face the camera, blurting “uhhhhhhh!,” and dropping to the floor. Everything in between is 100% Same Old Shit, including Chuck Norris, possibly the most boring “action hero” to ever grace the screen.

  • 15 rubensian roseNo Gravatar // Aug 3, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Fat, balding villain? Rubensian rose says: Weight bigots are filth-sucking crap! Trashy, sleazy collection indeed… Hm! Humbug!

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