Mark Buntzman produced Suicide Cult and the first Exterminator before taking on the directing and writing duties for this film, which was completed by William Sachs, who in addition to making The Force Beyond, The Incredible Melting Man, Van Nuys Blvd. and Galaxina has been a major fixer of movies, starting with Joe.
The credit may say “Additional Scenes Directed by William Sachs,” but the truth is that once Cannon saw a rough cut of footage shot by Buntzman, who was already behind schedule and over budget, they asked Sachs to rescue the film, which didn’t even have enough footage to complete the usual short Cannon running time.
The problem? Start Robert Ginty wasn’t available. And Cannon wouldn’t pay for any more NYC location shoots, so it had to be done in LA.
Sachs’ genius was in finding the scene of Ginty putting on a welding helmet and using that scene to reinvent the character as a somewhat masked vigilante, allowing him to shoot new footage without the actor. That said, Cannon did pay for the garbage truck to be driven from New York to the new set, as Los Angeles garbage trucks just aren’t the same.
As for the movie itself, it’s all about the escalating war between John Eastland (Ginty) and X (Van Peebles), one of whom wants to save the city from crime — and romance a dancer (Deborah Geffner) — and the other wanting to make money by controlling its crime. So while Eastlan drives a truck and doles out vigilante justice, X and his gang dress like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie, which maybe this is what with scenes of women being beaten with baseball bats and criminals being roasted with flamethrowers.
So if Eastland kills X’s brother, X will murder not only his lover, but also his best friend Be Gee (Frankie Faison), which all leads to a battle in an industrial parking that was literally shooting right next to The Terminator.
You can learn more about Exterminator 2 in Austin Trunick’s The Cannon Film Guide Volume 1: 1980-1984.
You can listen to The Cannon Canon podcast about this movie here.