Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Intruder (1989)
With Intruder, Scott Spiegel, co-writer of Evil Dead 2, made a taut, humorous, reasonably thrilling offer to the slasher genre just as the 80’s came to a close. Boasting a decent cast of horror regulars such as Elizabeth Cox (The Wraith, Night of the Creeps), Dan Hicks (Darkman, Evil Dead 2), and of course Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, and Bruce Campbell, this film is sure to entertain most fans of 80s horror.
DISCLAIMER: If you are drawn to the film because Bruce Campbell’s name is on the cover, you should know up front that he only appears for a short cameo at the very end. However, there’s quite a bit of Elizabeth, Sam, and Ted to hold you over.
PLOT: A supermarket has just closed for the night, and the workers are restocking the shelves. Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox) is concerned because her ex has returned after a stint in prison and wants to pick things up where they left off. When she turns him down, he becomes violent and is forced from the store by several members of the crew. Tensions are high as he continues to harass Jennifer, circling the store and attempting to get her attention.
To make matters worse, the crew has just been informed that the store is going to be sold and they will soon be out of jobs. It’s shortly after this news is delivered that bodies begin to turn up. An Intruder has gained access to their little paradise of beer, TV guides, and fresh produce, and he seems to know his way around the place…
The first thing I have to say is that I love the setting. Having grown up in lower-middleclass suburbia, the supermarket setting is somehow…cozy maybe? I’m not sure, but I have similar feelings about the film Chopping Mall. I guess it’s something about these familiar places getting turned into horrific killing grounds—the incongruity has an immediate, unconscious effect on me. The setting aside, there’s a charm to the characters, particularly Jennifer, that helps to lull you into the story in a sort of disarming way that a great deal of modern and/or more serious horror often fails to do. We’re invested in Jennifer long before she’s under the threat of a savage killer. We’re laughing at Ted Raimi’s slapstick performance an easy twenty minutes before his head is…well, I won’t spoil it.
Once the killing begins, we get a series of death sequences that grow in violence as the film progresses. Intruder was certainly written with a mind for a good time, but despite that lighter tone, there are several cringeworthy moments of gore that got to me a little—not the least of which includes some sort of industrial trash compactor: eesh.
It’s been pointed out in other reviews on the web, but it’s worth stating that the film score is spot on. It aids the development of tension, moments of horror, and action sequences, all without distracting from the film. On the same token, the gore effects are spectacular. This film doesn’t necessarily scream big budget, but they certainly didn’t skimp on the blood and guts.
There’s a great deal of control, steady-handedness when it comes to the look of the film. The perspective comes across as intentional, the camera shots purposeful in a way that blows many slashers out of the water. It’s obvious this film was written, directed, and acted by people with a genuine love for the genre, who wanted to pay tribute to it. That love shows in the final product and I would highly recommend Intruder to my slasher-loving friends.
Dominic Stabile’s bizarre fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and he is a regular contributor to Manor House Productions’ horror podcast, which produces haunting audio dramas. His bizarro-noir series, The Stone Series, is published through Sinister Grin Press. The first two books in the series, Stone Work and Stone Wall, are currently available. Book three, Stone Dead, is set to be released in late 2018. His Weird Western, “Full Moon in the West,” was released by Grinning Skull Press in 2016, and boasts a healthy serving of “black magic and hot lead.”