BLU-RAY REVIEW: INTRUDER (1989)
The overnight shift at a large grocery store can be pretty mundane and run-of-the-mill, or it can be a total bloodbath with a maniac running around in the place hellbent on slaughtering every single person. This is pretty much the plot of director Scott Spiegel’s classic slasher flick from the end of the 80’s involving a number names familiar to fans of the EVIL DEAD films. Throw into the mix the boys from what used to be formerly known as KNB EFX doing the special effects and this is quite a film of huge names before they were huge, such as Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Ted Raimi. Well, some of them still may not be super A-List actors even now, but they have well been established in the movie industry, if not specifically the horror film industry.
The plot of INTRUDER revolves around an overnight stock crew being stalked by a mysterious murderer. The film follows a well-known and for some, admired formula for a slasher film. I don’t know about you guys, but slasher films from the ’80s are the greatest types of slasher films. There is just something about the way they were made during that time period, a time period when slasher films began to be made in abundance. Some were bad and some were good.
I believe that one component to director Scott Spiegel’s INTRUDER was his creative use of the camera. Just like some of the shots in Sam Raimi’s THE EVIL DEAD and its “sequel” (I tend to think of it as an updated remake), there are a good number of POV shots originating in unique locations. Sometimes, the shots are just extremely unique for no other apparent reason than looking really cool. In one scene, the camera is located in a shopping cart as the cart is being pushed and the angle has the viewer looking from inside the cart and looking out. The scene was not one in which any blood, gore, or shocking jump-scares were thrown in to put the viewer on edge. It was just a different and unique approach to making the shot less boring and made standard shots more interesting.
Not only did the camera angles and shots remind me of THE EVIL DEAD films (the first EVIL DEAD film pre-dates INTRUDER by eight years), but the fact that both Sam Raimi AND Ted Raimi were in the film. As some of you may remember, Scott Spiegel was in Raimi’s original THE EVIL DEAD as well as its sequel (remake). Spiegel’s INTRUDER is its own film, though and is a fun entry into the slasher genre. The beginning of the film sets up the scenario for the rest of the movie by having one of the grocery clerks’ ex-boyfriends storm into the store right before closing and get into a fight with just about every damn person in the grocery store. The psychotic dude Craig Peterson, played by actor David Byrnes, is made out to have quite a few issues with managing his anger and the owners and all the employees of the grocery store can’t contain him and he gets a hit or kick at everyone until finally storming off and escaping. At this point of the film, I was wondering when the gore and blood was going to enter the picture.
At around the 39 minute mark, after everyone has been given the task of looking throughout the store and tracking down this nut (the owners think he may still be in the store), people begin to die and blood begins to fly! Generally, if a film follows the formula for a slasher film to a tee, then I want there to be some creatively manufactured kills and gore effects. Spiegel delivers on all levels (except nudity and sex) and it helps that he has what were formerly known as the KNB EFX team working on all the effects. The talents of Howard Berger, Robert Kurtzman, Gregory Nicotero (the three aforementioned all formerly of KNB EFX) and Sean Rodgers did a fantastic job of creating some very realistic practical (remember those?) gore scenes utilizing gelatin molds and latex, but no computer generated crap! I have always thought that practical effects are funner to watch and look better in most instances.
If there is one fantastic scene of gore in this film to watch, in the uncut print I might add, it is the scene in which the garbage disposal machine crushes the head of a victim. The scene looks incredibly realistic and the whole scene is shown without cutting away from the gore from beginning to end. One of my biggest pet peeve’s is when a kill scene is edited and chopped apart, pieced together with much of the potential gore removed or sparsely thrown in here and there. There really is only one word for it: brilliantly gory! I felt that this scene was the funnest scene in the whole film. I love a gory slasher film that does not pull its punches. INTRUDER totally delivers and thank goodness Synapse got the uncut print of this film and threw it on Blu-ray because I remember the butchered and cut version that came out on VHS when the film originally came out. In fact, I remember reading the Fangoria issue that showed all the good gore scenes within its pages and being so damn pissed when I finally saw the film and everything was missing.
Some other kill scenes involve a meat-hook, severed body parts, and another really gruesome scene where a victim’s face is sawed in half by a table saw. In addition to the fun gore, some cheesy and some downright nasty, the film has a great soundtrack from a keyboard/piano that gives the film a totally classic slasher film feel. Bruce Campbell making a cameo as an asshole cop was the icing on the cake.
Overall, the film did have some utterly cheesy bits in it (such as a body cut in half with a sale sign by saying “Half Off”, but if one can get over those sophomoric jokes and focus on the gore and violence within the film, they will be very pleased. I also was surprised at the level of acting the movie had. The acting was pretty decent, not the best, but pretty good all things considered. I have seen some extremely more horrendous performances that weren’t fit to be publicly displayed at Medieval Times, let alone on the big screen.
The five minutes of the film that was cut in the R-Rated release with a running time of 83 minutes sure made one hell of a difference. I can say that the high-definition release of the film probably didn’t make a super significant difference, but the addition of the blood and gore to the film made a whole world of difference. It really was like watching a whole different movie. The new print with the added footage contained within is awesome, as are the special features. I love the Audio Commentary with Director Spiegel and Producer Lawrence Bender, offering insight and depth to the background of the film. I hate when a film is released on Blu-ray or dvd and it does not contain an audio commentary of some sort, especially one without the director on it. If fans had bought the film when it initially was released from Synapse Films, they would have gotten a DVD-R of the original work print. Sadly, I am poor and was happy with getting a review screener and missed out on the work print, and as of this writing, the DVD-R’s are completely sold out and those that got one have one hell of a rare INTRUDER work print. The rest of the extra features are as follows:
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Scott Spiegel and Producer Lawrence Bender
- SLASHED PRICES: THE MAKING OF INTRUDER – Featurette/Retrospective
- Never-Before-Seen Extended “Murder” Sequences from the Original Workprint
- Outtakes from the Now-Lost Short Film, NIGHT CREW
- Original Cast Audition Footage
- Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery
- Original Theatrical Trailer
Like so many other films I have seen and reviewed that Synapse put out, they seem to have found their niche with American horror films from my childhood, generally slasher films from the ’80s! For those that may have seen the butchered cut print of INTRUDER, give the film another chance and view it the way the director intended it to be viewed.