Intruder (1989)

Intruder (1989)

A new dimension in terror.

Its 10pm on the night before Walnut Lakes supermarket closes forever. The staff get together preparing for one last day of work. An ex-boyfriend of one of the cashiers turns up after serving time in prison for killing a man and begins harassing her which leads to a confrontation with some of the other staff. He’s thrown out of the shop but once the doors are locked, the staff begin disappearing one-at-a-time.

 

1989 and the slasher genre had almost completely run out of steam. In fact it had run out of steam and was actually going backwards in terms of popularity and creativity. Audiences were sick of watching the same thin plot over and over again (hey I’ve watched countless slashers and I never get bored!). The novelty of watching creative ways of killing people had become more of a chore than anything. Even naked chicks no longer had the same cheeky appeal as they did in the early days. And the censors had finally gotten their way, neutering the slasher films of the things that had made them popular in the first place. You could uncover an odd gem here and there but the later years in the 80s was a barren patch for the sub-genre and the proof is none more existent than Intruder. It’s a weakly paced, badly shot and pretty dull outing but is peppered with some superb death scenes.

I wonder how writers choose their locations for a slasher film. Clearly in films like this, they think of a location, try and come up with as many related death scenes as possible and then see if they’ll work in practice. From fairgrounds to hospitals, schools and motels, we’ve seen it all. So having a supermarket-based slasher is just a logical progression of creativity (or desperation). Decent use is made of the varying locations in a supermarket – the meat locker, the freezers, the manager’s office and the aisles themselves. Of course going hand-in-hand with these locations are the death scenes of varying quality, particularly the grisly deaths involving the dangling hooks in the freezer and the meat slicer.

Gore is plentiful and free flowing meaning that even the weakest of the death scenes is laced with blood. Scott Spiegel likes his POV shots too – the staple shot of a slasher film. Here we get POV shots from all manner of weird and wonderful objects with differing levels of success. They add up to give the supermarket a slightly off-kilter look with possibilities than anyone or anything is lurking around the corner. It’s all high quality and a shame that it has been hidden away in such a dreary film.

Intruder is an independent film but the budget really shows its limitations. This is one supermarket you wouldn’t want to be caught shopping when it’s dark because there is hardly any light. This makes some of the different settings seem the same. Are you sure it’s the stock room or is it the freezer? Did you just buy a tin of peas or peanuts? There are plenty of moments where only the main characters are lit up and the rest of the screen is engulfed in darkness. That’s not ideal when you’re supposed to have a killer lurking around in the background. I’d rather see shadows and silhouettes in the background of a well lit set to make me wonder whether the killer is hiding there as opposed to the whole thing being plunged into pitch black!

The front cover is also proud to show off the ‘star’ names in the film including Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Don’t be expecting anything worthy of a credit though as they’re all in it for just a line or so of dialogue. If they were appearing as a favour for their friends, why not go the whole hog and actually star in it? It’s not like the actors who take the main parts are any good – they suck big time. It’s all well and good hiring your friends to star in a film but at least make sure they can hack it in front of the camera.

The front cover cast list isn’t the only thing of note as the picture gives away the identity of the killer! I’m not trying to pull a spoiler out or anything but if you’re going to try and pretend it’s the crazy ex-boyfriend butchering everyone, then why do you plaster the picture of the actual killer over the front?

 

Intruder has got somewhat of a cult fan base and I can partly understand why due to the death scenes. But there are loads of other slasher films with decent death scenes and superior all round production values so why not go and check out one of those instead? Not exactly one of my favourites but there’s a lot worse to be seen.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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