Eugene Robert Glazer
88 mins uncut
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The Intruder (1989)
2nd Jun 11
The staff of a run down mini supermarket meet very sticky ends on the last night of business.
80's slashers are rarely as much fun as they should be. Eschewing the blood free terror and suspense of 70's ghost rides Black Christmas and Halloween to focus solely on tits and gore, the onslaught(er) of copycats should have been the most enjoyable movement in cinematic history. Yet, very few of these guilty pleasures are as pleasurable as we want them to be. Sure there's gore but usually very badly done and very brief. Sure there's nudity but you get a sense this is nudity by committee - just enough to get by. The majority of the laughs to be had come from dreadful haircuts and abominable fashion sense. Arriving on the scene just after the crap 80's slasher had had it's day in comes Scott Spiegel's 1989 opus Intruder. It may not deliver a single square inch of nudity but the gore is very much present, correct and glorious and, most importantly, so is the fun. Big time.
Intruder may be the funnest slasher ever made. If the Sam Raimi of old made a full on slasher, then it would look a lot like this. There's melodramatic performances and photo romance dialogue aplenty along with a healthy dose of Three Stooges style slapstick. The fact that Sam is actually in it along with brother Ted hammers the Raiminess home and a tiny Bruce Campbell cameo certainly doesn't hurt. But this is Spiegel's movie. The man is a bit of an unsung hero in the horror genre and the Evil Dead 2 co-writer directs the shit out of this one.
Shots come from all directions; we get POVs from a shopping trolley, a rotary dial phone, a dirty floor and even a turning door knob. At one point the camera is simply upside down while two of the characters chat. There's an energy on display here that's nothing if not infectious as Spiegel uses every trick in his bag knowing full well he may never get to make another film again. The supermarket setting is used extremely well with items falling ominously from shelves, tannoys blaring and all the shadowy nooks and crannies in the back store being exploited to their fullest. It's amazing a supermarket remains a rare backdrop for slasher flicks. There's just so much dangerous stuff around!
The cast are a great gang. No ones going to win any oscars and that's exactly how it should be, but they don't just phone in half arsed performances waiting to get offed. You really believe that these people all work together and know each other. They're cartoons but likeable and engaging ones, though Spiegel's very careful that we don't care about them too much so we can still enjoy seeing them get massacred. And boy do they get massacred! The death scenes are nothing short of extraordinary; heads are crushed, sliced and sawn in two, eyes are impaled and necks hung on meat hooks. These are cruel cruel murders but the tone of Intruder is just so damn Looney Tunes that things never over step the mark into pure sadism. Every potential kill that Spiegel sets up, he knocks right out of the park. Each grisly end gets a great visual gag too that'll have fans groaning in the right way. Legendary effects team KNB make their debut here and gore hounds won't be disappointed as not one bit of the skull crunching carnage is left to the imagination. The bandsaw sequence is just astonishing and one of the greatest and grossest things ever caught on celluloid.
If there is a flaw, it's that the whodunit aspect of the plot feels unnecessary. Once the killing gets up and running you will be in doubt as to who the culprit is and the 'mystery' of their identity does distract a little as we hope the reveal will be cleverer than it actually is. But at least it keeps the killer in the shadows where a good slasher should be (on that note, though, curious parties should NOT watch the trailer before viewing as this gives away the killer's identity. just dive right in!). That's not to say Intruder doesn't have a few surprises up it's sleeve; look out for the best fake out ever involving a severed head and a belter of an ending that guarantees a big goofy grin for sickos everywhere.
Film geeks will be in absolute heaven spotting the cameos. As well the Raimi brothers and the Great Chin we get double Pulp Fiction points with producer Lawrence Bender (who also co-writes here) getting his fizog briefly in front of the camera and the token stoner character being played by a hilarious Burr Steers. Steers played "Flock of Seagulls" (PF's first casualty) and went onto direct Igby Goes Down and now seems determined to turn Zac Efron into a credible movie star by helming 17 Again and The Life and Death of Charlie St Cloud. Now that IS terrifying. Renee Estevez (sister of Emilio n' Charlie and star of Sleepaway Camp 2 and The West Wing) features as well, but despite presumably having adonis DNA she gives the weakest performance of the bunch. The best guest appearances though, come from three old school comedy class acts. Emil Sitka (AKA The Fourth Stooge) pops up to drop some groceries and brilliantly mumble his catchphrase "hold hands, you lovebirds!" (even if you've never seen The Three Stooges, this line should be familiar to film fans). Alvy Moore and Tom Lester from classic tv show Green Acres play a pair of bumbling cops and deliver a business card gag that is PURE COMIC GOLD.
Slasher fans really owe it to themselves to check out Intruder. It's extremely funny, very VERY gory, has great characters, knows everything you want from this type of fare and delivers in abundance. Except for the tits. But you guys have the internet for that.
Versions Uncut everywhere now, all previous cuts to the UK version waived.
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