The world fell in love with him as “Artichoke Picker” in Bound For Glory and the rest, as they say, is history! All kidding aside, I think Robert Ginty’s actual life was a hell of a lot more entertaining than any of his movies or television shows. As a musician he performed with Hendrix, Hooker and others. In his acting career he showed up in some high quality productions.
However, this is Balladeer’s Blog, so I’m taking a look only at a handful of Robert Ginty’s less-than-terrific action flicks which have made him a very familiar face to the Psychotronic-minded. I may be ” … in over my HEAD heahh” as our hero said in Warrior of the Lost World, but I’m taking a stab at the rundown for a Robert Ginty B-Movie Marathon.
WHITE FIRE (1985) – CASTING DIRECTOR: Let’s see … the hero of this Turkish-made action flick is an international smuggler who uses a chainsaw to fight rival criminals and is so hot for his own sister that he eventually pays to have a prostitute transformed via plastic surgery into a duplicate of his sister then oinks and boinks with her … (snaps fingers) Get Robert Ginty on the phone, NOW!
Ginty plays Boris “Bo” Donnelly. As a child he and his sister Ingrid (Belinda Mayne) saw their parents slaughtered by ruthless criminals. After that they were raised and tutored, Fagin-style, by an older crook who trained the siblings to become expert smugglers on the international scene.
Bo and Ingrid are among the many criminals vying for the White Fire Diamond, a jewel which actually turns out to be radioactive (don’t ask). Moustaches are EVERYWHERE as Ginty teams up once again with his Warrior of the Lost World co-star Fred Williamson to battle a virtual UN of facial-hair styles. Odd-colored blood flows from wounded human beings, lesbian cultists perform underground plastic surgery and Bo Donnelly openly ogles his sister’s naked body every chance he gets.
If you liked the chainsaw-wielding hero in Black Shampoo you’ll love Robert Ginty’s “Bo” in White Fire.
THE EXTERMINATOR (1980) – How can you NOT like a movie in which a standard bad-ass street vigilante uses a FLAME THROWER to kill the criminals he targets?
Robert Ginty IS John Eastland, a Vietnam War veteran who takes the law into his own hands when his ex-GI buddy Michael Jefferson (Steve James) falls victim to street punks. Apparently deciding that guns are for pussies, Eastland uses an actual damn flame thrower to kill evil-doers during his nocturnal crusade. (“I know what you’re thinking … Does his flame thrower shoot flames six feet or only five?” Had to be said.)
To be fair, the Exterminator – as the press dubs him – also drops people into meat grinders and, when he does resort to something as unimaginative as a gun he at least livens it up a little by shooting his victims with mercury bullets. What can I say, the man is an artist!
Christopher George portrays Detective James Dalton, who gets pressured by the Mayor and other white-collar criminals to end the vigilante activities of our hero. George’s Dalton is just cynical enough to wonder if the politicians want the Exterminator stopped simply for legitimate reasons or because certain criminal elements who have the elected weasels in their pocket want this threat to their illicit businesses eliminated.
Samantha Eggar is wasted as Dr Megan Stewart, Dalton’s love interest. We viewers also get treated to your regulation ‘Nam flashback AND the thrill of realizing that the Exterminator has survived to torch scumbags another day.
WARRIOR OF THE LOST WORLD (1983) – This film was yet another of the seemingly countless Italian imitations of The Road Warrior during the 1980s. Robert Ginty stars as the Rider, a post-apocalyptic warrior who clashes with Omega, a fascist dictatorship which has risen from the ashes of the old world.
There are a few good ideas that got lost in the low-budget, make-it-quick nature of this mess. The Rider’s high-tech motorcycle with assorted weaponry and a talking computer called Einstein could have been badass if given the right treatment.
Unfortunately the filmmakers clearly wanted to mix a little Star Wars in their Mad Max and made Einstein a pathetically cutesy attempt at some R2D2 appeal. Another example of that annoying blend is the injection of some aimless, sub-hippy mysticism centering around supernatural “Elders” who declare Ginty “the Chosen One” to bring down Omega. Yaaawwn.
Donald Pleasence plays Prossor, the head of the Omega dictatorship and Persis Khambatta is Nastassia, our hero’s love interest and whose father Professor McWayne (Warrior of McWayne’s World) needs rescued from Omega’s clutches. Throw in the dictatorship’s kinky S&M cabarets which keep the peasants peaceful in the best Bread and Circuses spirit plus the usual post-apocalyptic gangs and mutants.
SPOILER: Fred Williamson’s character turns out to be a traitor who is really working with Prossor and helps him escape in a pointless setup for a sequel which never materialized. 2020 Texas Gladiators is a far worse film than this in the “Spaghetti Road Warrior” sweepstakes.
EXTERMINATOR 2 (1984) – Robert Ginty is back as John Eastland, the flamethrower-wielding vigilante! Eastland has been continuing to turn violent criminals into charcoal briquettes during the overnight hours and has a new job as a garbage-man by day.
The Exterminator, as mild-mannered trash collector John Eastland, romances an exotic dancer named Caroline (Deborah Geffner) in this sequel. Our flame-spewing hero clashes with a costumed gang of deranged weirdos led by THE Mario Van Peebles as “X.” Van Peebles hams it up in an entertaining way which anticipates the over-the-top supervillain portrayals by Jack Nicholson, Tommy Lee Jones and others in the decades ahead.
X’s gang seems to think they’re in a post-apocalypse movie or in a roadshow version of The Warriors. Their outfits will make you laugh your ass off.
Inevitably, the Exterminator’s new girlfriend falls victim to the criminal reign of terror afflicting the city, making things very, very personal between him and X. For added fun this time around Eastland converts his garbage truck into a rolling mega-weapon (as it were) complete with mounted machine guns and other gimmicks.
Van Peebles looks to be having a blast and doesn’t seem to be taking any of it the least bit seriously, in contrast to Ginty, who plays things a little too stone-faced and morose. This sequel needed our hero to become as passionately fiery as his trademark flamethrower.
Ellen fans will enjoy spotting a young Arye Gross in the cast.
GOLDRAIDERS (1982) – A plane carrying two hundred million dollars in gold (in 1980s money) gets shot down over Thailand and lands in the jungle. A blandly-dubbed Robert Ginty plays Mark Banner, part of a hastily-assembled team sent in to recover the gold. Sarah Langenfeld is our hero’s leading lady this time around.
Naturally other parties are after the bullion bonanza, too, like drug dealers, a man who needs gold to make a gold dress to win his intended bride (?) and a corrupt communist General. The commie with decidedly capitalist leanings is one of the most memorable villains in B-Movie history!
Not only does he use a whip like Indiana Jones, viciously abuse women and shoot his own men at the drop of a hat but he sports a wooden leg just for good measure. The pig takes off the wooden leg when having his way with his female victims and after one such ugly incident a dog runs off with the wooden leg before our villain can reattach it! That scene definitely stays with you.
In addition to fighting off international thugs for the shipment of gold, Ginty and company also clash with oversized, obviously fake vampire bats in some unintentionally hilarious moments. On top of that, characters seem to be getting dubbed by different people at different parts of the movie, which will keep you laughing.
The Gintiest scene of them all finds our hero riding a souped-up motorcycle which shoots missiles like his bike in WOTLW, but instead of a talking computer named Einstein THIS motorcycle has wings which let it para-sail its way around.
To summarize: Ginty gets to shoot from on high like in Black Sheep Squadron, has a hot blonde co-star and fights international criminals like in White Fire, rides a gimmick-laden motorcycle like in Warrior of the Lost World, and the overseas distributors tried marketing this flick as if it was a sequel to The Exterminator!
Talk about your one-stop Robert Ginty film fix! But I did miss his usual mumbly voice.
All this plus an unintentionally funny scene where a newly converted Communist argues with his old girlfriend (part of Ginty’s team) regarding his new “revolutionary” name and the name she knew him under. “You’re prinkan praugga proo!” “No, I’m pranga pupu panang!” and so on.
Langenfeld was Carole Lombard to Ginty’s Clark Gable once again in The Act aka Bless ‘Em All (1983).
SCARAB (1983) – Robert Ginty AND Rip Torn … TOGETHER! Somebody pinch me! A Spanish horror film that does NOT star Paul “Jacinto Molina” Naschy! Somebody pinch me!
Ginty plays Murphy, a reporter stationed in Spain. Torn stars as Khepera, a mad scientist who becomes a globe-trotting cult leader after one of his experiments causes him to become possessed by an entity claiming to be the scarab-headed Egyptian god Khepera (sic).
Murphy is presented as being irresistible to women for some reason. We meet him as he climbs into bed with an Ambassador’s wife at a diplomatic function he’s supposed to be covering for his newspaper. (What a professional!) This earns him a black eye from the Ambassador and a chewing-out from his Editor (Sam Chew of Rattlers fame). Needless to say all of the secretaries at the paper are hot for Ginty, too. (By the way, Hot For Ginty was my favorite Van Halen song.)
Like a lankier, much less likable version of Kolchak, Murphy gets wise to attempts by Khepera’s cult to kill off politicians with small, cursed scarabs. Rip Torn’s character claims he and his cult are doing this to return Earth to the Dark Ages and thus prevent a nuclear war. (?) Ginty allies himself with Khepera’s daughter Elena, a nurse gifted at psychic healing, and together they take on the villains.
Get ready for lots of toplessness, lots of eye makeup (especially on Rip Torn) and lots of sexy dancing by the scarab cult. Bizarrely enough, one scene features Khepera about to have sex with a willing woman in his organization but her entire body beneath the neck is transformed into a fish to prevent that from happening.
This rather extreme form of cock-blocking was caused by an elderly sorceress whose disembodied head shows up to taunt Rip Torn about it. She reminds Khepera he must abstain for now and mate only with his daughter. Ewww!
SPOILERS: Murphy and Elena finally track down Khepera’s temple just outside a town whose entire populace lies dead from … something or other. (We’re never told.) Elena is captured and hypnotized into wanting to mate with her father but her newfound “love” for Ginty empowers her to break the spell and thwart Khepera’s plans.
MOST POINTLESS SCENE: Even though Murphy tries to mount every female who crosses his path Elena feels the need to get him intoxicated to have sex with him. It’s possible she shared him with her mother, but like so much else in this odd movie it’s a little unclear.
I originally thought the point of that scene was going to be that Elena needed to be a virgin for her mating with Rip Torn to have the villain’s intended effect (whatever it was supposed to be). But nope, it was okay if she had other sex partners before screwing Rip Torn … just like Gary Shandling found out. (I’m kidding!)
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