Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Flashback: Intruder (1989) - Death Amidst The Frosted Flakes

Just coming in under the wire in 1989, Intruder is a film that seems forgotten in the deep sea of slasher films of the 80's.  It top-bills stars like Sam and Ted Raimi as well as Bruce Campbell, but to be fair both the Raimi's parts were abbreviated and Campbell has nothing more than a cameo at the end.

Does this make you want to seek this film out?  Well don't do it for all the big star action - just do it because Intruder has some interesting kill scenes, as well as some long lost groceries you might have forgotten about. (As in, when did Tony the Tiger start to appear on Frosted Flakes? Because he is not on the box here. Whaaat?)

When this came out, I honestly do not remember hearing about it, and missed it on VHS and apparently also on DVD.  I recently had $75 worth of bonus points on Amazon so I sought to expand my ever-growing DVD collection with some 80's classics that I didn't already own.  Hence my purchase of the likes of Dead and Buried, Castle Freak, The Burning, and this gem.  However, I bought this one sight unseen. 
Wikipedia mentions that the working title for the film was The Night Crew, which truth be told is a far superior title than the perfunctory "Intruder".  Meh.

Intruder has a really simple plot, as many 80's horror films do.  A group of employees at a grocery store are closing for the evening and are stalked, maimed, and slaughtered by an unseen (human) predator.  It's not much for brilliant plot devices or stellar acting, but it does boast some interesting kills and has a certain classic slasher feel to it. 

Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox) is closing her register and chatting with fellow check-out girl, Linda (Renee Estevez - yes, she's related to the other ones).  Ex-boyfriend Craig (David Byrnes) stops by to harass Jennifer and bitch about her not answering his calls an ENTIRE YEAR after their break-up.  Craig (which is far too genial a name to be a bad-ass) is made out to be a biker/ex-convict type that is quickly moving into stalker territory. When a fight ensues between Craig and another bloke coming to her aid, Craig takes off into the vast core of the supermarket (who the hell knew it was so darn huge?) and basically disappears.  A search party results as everyone splits up to find the renegade chump.   And by the laws of the slasher film, one by one everyone is extinguished in a ridiculously violent way.

Even though they do end up finding Craig and send him on his merry way with threat of police intervention, the group is still in a foul mood after they hear the manager's plan to sell the store and that they are all losing their jobs.  The manager's brother and co-owner Bill (Dan Hicks) tries to ease the gang's depression by explaining how distraught he is as well, and that it wasn't his idea to sell the store.  They are directed to mark down all the stock and while doing so, Jennifer gets several prank calls from Craig in the process. The manager calls the police but they are slightly more Keystone Cop than NYPD Blue, and only warn them to keep an eye out for Craig.

Though Renee Estevez as Linda gets top billing here, she is the first person to be offed by the mysterious assailant.  Sam and Ted Raimi meet equally as quick and bloody deaths as their characters are deemed unimportant as well. When Jennifer manages to admit her feelings for one of her co-workers (whose name escapes me), they get their groove on and plan a date for later.  However, upon investigating someone going out the back door of the store, Bill happens upon Craig sneaking peeks in the window.  Craig, in turn, hits Bill over the head with a hammer.

The unseen killer (is it Craig?) continues to pick off employees one by one, and a motive is still pretty unclear.  But there are some amusing deaths to keep us interested, including a meat hook to the jaw and a head being sawed in half by a bandsaw.  Not much for keeping kill trophies, the killer leaves parts of bodies strewn around the market, which Jennifer finally happens upon and realizes something is amiss.  By this time she is close to being last (wo)man standing and is determined to make it out alive, as all good final girls strive to do.

A rather formulaic film, Intruder hearkens back to all those 80's films you've seen before.  There really isn't anything new, but you'll certainly delight in seeing a man beaten about the face and body with a severed head.  I know I did.  I don't think I've seen that anywhere else, and it's almost worth the price of the film just to experience it.  I felt the need to rewind and watch it again a few more times.

I also had to rewind to see the Bruce Campbell cameo at the end.  It completely bypassed me on first viewing, and it's no wonder - it must be all of one minute long.  Director Scott Spiegel (who he himself is gutted like a fish in a cameo as a bread man here) apparently went to high school with Sam Raimi and Campbell, which has to be the only reason those high level stars are slumming it in this one.

It does boast the amazing special effects talents of Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead, etc.), to which we can all bow and declare ourselves unworthy.

I'd have to say most people will not be surprised by the outcome of the film, and probably won't claim it as "one of the best they've ever seen", but it will capture the attention of anyone who likes to reminisce back to their youth, or anyone that hasn't seen a severed head get top billing before.


Marie said...

It's interesting that in the upper right corner of the poster it says "Produced by Lawrence KILL BILL Bender" and the colors of the poster are identical to the jumpsuit the Bride wears in Kill Bill....

Marie said...

Nevermind I figured it out... Lawrence Bender was the producer of Kill Bill and this must just be a rereleased cover of the movie. Noticed that when they put "Spiderman" through Sam Raimi's name...

Christine Hadden said...

Yes, this is a more recent poster from the UK. I didn't care for the older posters and wanted something different :)
Though why the 'killer' on the poster looks like a cross between Freddy Krueger and the Wicker Man is beyond me...