I love horror films in all their guises; I can get into a ghost story, a zombie flick, cannibal films; hell, I even get a kick out of a lot of the modern crop of bad-CGI SyFy flicks, for chrissakes. I kinda figured you Fellow Fans already knew that, elsewise you wouldn’t be sitting there reading this; but sometimes, y’see, it’s hard to come up with an opening for these reviews, and this sounded like as good of one as any. 🙂 Hang on, though, there is a point here: Given my encompassing love of the genre, one of my greatest joys is still to plop down in the old La-Z-Boy and enjoy a classic from the Decade of the Slasher: The ‘80s. Ah, the greats…Friday the 13th…The Burning…My Bloody Valentine…The Prowler…
…and one of my personal guilty pleasures, the 1989 Scott Spiegel film, Intruder. Starring Spiegel’s old pals Sam and Ted Raimi and featuring a cameo by the King himself, Bruce Campbell (but don’t be fooled by the billing on the DVD case, it’s just a cameo), this movie takes the tried and true slasher formula, puts it in an unfamiliar place, gives us a good mash-up of characters that buck stereotypes, and tops it off with some unique and bloody damned fun kills.
The night crew at the Walnut Lake neighborhood supermarket is going about their usual closing routines, counting down the registers, neatening and restocking the shelves, etc. Jennifer, one of the cashiers, is surprised when her ex-con ex-boyfriend shows up, demanding explanations as to why it’s over between them (from his behavior, it’s really not that hard to figure out). He gets a bit rowdy, and after a scuffle with other supermarket employees, he gets thrown out. This little bit of excitement out of the way, the store’s owners decide what the hell? This would be a perfect time to let their late-teen/twentysomething crew in on a little secret: “Hey gang, we’re selling the store! Your last day is coming up soon, so start re-pricing everything to sell, and best of luck to ya!” This little tidbit hits most of the employees kinda hard; they’re all wondering where they’re going to find new jobs; we see that it especially chagrins the more congenial of the two owners. We can tell he really doesn’t want to sell the place, but as minority stockholder, he has no choice. Dejected, everyone sets about to their re-pricing and stocking chores with mixed emotions; fortunately, most of them won’t have to worry long: someone’s shown up and started killing them off! Who could it be? And who’ll survive to find out?
Although this has many of the watermarks of a Spiegel/Raimi/Bender-esque film, it’s very much in the slasher vein with none of the overt comedic flourishes you’d typically expect. Some of the character interaction is witty, and a few reactions may inspire a chuckle, but through and through it’s a hack ‘n’ slash…and when that’s done well (which this is), that’s never a bad thing. Gorehounds rejoice! The kills in this one are imaginative and memorable; any time you have meat hooks, a hydraulic compressor and a band saw showcased implicitly (ah, foreshadowing), you know you’re in for a good time. A young Greg Nicotero and the rest of the KNB crew did a superb job with the practical effects; good direction and deft editing made them all the more grotesque and (dare I say it?) gratifying.
The acting is as good as you’ll see in any other slasher from the period; not a lot of character development, but then you really don’t have much time to get attached to many of the characters, anyway (hey, that’s not a spoiler! What do you expect from a late ‘80s slasher? Protracted soliloquies and emotional inspiration?). The story is simple, but effectively done; there are plenty of gotcha! moments, and Spiegel does a great job with the camera, the shadows, and the building of tension. There are some really creative angles in some of the shots, and reflection and misdirection are used very well.
Often overlooked, Intruder is a damned good slasher flick; it’s got everything you want with the added bonus of actual skill on both sides of the camera. It’s not the type of film you’d hear about during Oscar season, but you know, sometimes I’m not interested in having my thoughts provoked; sometimes, I just want to sit down and be entertained by a good old-fashioned blood ‘n’ guts flick.
If you’re of a like mind, you could do a hell of a lot worse. This one definitely delivers.
Watch it, folks; this most recent viewing was far from my first, and I know it won’t be my last.
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