When we think about University professors, it’s not uncommon for images of d-grade 80s action films to accompany the thought. The two undeniably go hand-in-hand. And when we think about d-grade 80s action films, there is only one that understandably comes to mind… Mark Buntzman’s 1984 classic, ‘Exterminator 2’. In ‘Exterminator 2’ John Eastland is back, wielding his trusty flamethrower and gearing up to cleanse New York of its evil drug lords and marauding street gangs. ‘Exterminator 2’ is the embodiment of trashy early 80s revenge cinema heralded by the godly, Charles Bronson with the seminal, ‘Death Wish’. ‘Exterminator 2’ can never reach the loft heights of its inspirations, but it is a hell of an enjoyable ride.
While watching these low budget 80s action films, it’s very easy to take so much for granted – including their soundtracks. Quite often the soundtracks of such films works to date them more than any other element. It’s for this reason that I believe they should be celebrated. David Spear’s soundtrack for ‘Exterminator 2’ is a dirty neon feast for the ears. It captures the quintessential early 80s sound with reckless abandon. The montage I’m about to share was ripped directly from a VHS copy by a kindly YouTube user. It has everything, from off-kilter, semi-industrial percussion, to pan pipe samples, ominous bells, droning wavering mono synth, funky reverb drum beats, faux saxophone (or ‘saxafauxn’), vaguely irritating keyboard doodles, MORE panpipes. That motley list is only the beginning. Spend six and a half minutes of your life travelling through an aural world that WILL infect your soul in the best possible way. Before I share this montage, I urge you to check out David Spear’s professional chops which starts off in the seedy 80s world of sweaty synthesizer orgies to the esteemed world of academia. The following bio is taken from the ‘Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development’s’ website:
David Spear is a composer and conductor who began his career orchestrating many film scores for Elmer Bernstein including Animal House, Ghostbusters, Airplane and Heavy Metal. After his Broadway debut as Music Director of Merlin, the Magical Musical, Spear scored three Academy Award nominated films: Ballet Robotique, Rainbow War and The Courage to Care. He also wrote the music for the Emmy Award winning documentary, Surviving Everest for National Geographic. He has led the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Munich Philharmonic in performances and recordings of his own works. In June, 2008 he conducted the Indianapolis Symphony in the premiere of The Langston Hughes Project featuring Ice-T and the Ron McCurdy Quartet.
Professor Spear has served on the faculties of Berklee College of Music and the USC Thornton School of Music where, in 2005, he was awarded the Casden Institute Faculty Research Grant to re-score Samuel Goldwyn’s 1922 Classic Yiddish Silent Film Hungry Hearts, in collaboration with his students. The new score and restored print premiered at the 2007 New York Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Professor Spear holds a B.A. in Music Composition from UCLA, where he was awarded the Henry Mancini Scholarship.
Enjoy this montage of music from Mark Buntzman’s ‘Exterminator 2’, composed by David Spear.