Intruder (1989): Bruce, Sam, and Ted Meet the Supermarket Creep
Hello everyone and welcome back to Instant Terror Tuesday. Today, I wanted to delve back into slasher films and after milling though many good choices I landed on the late Eighties flick Intruder. The name that caught my eye first was Renee Estevez, who I love as Molly in Sleepaway Camp 2, but clicking through I found names like Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and his brother Ted. Plus, it was directed by their buddy Scott Spiegel. Needless to say I was already sold, but a quick little trip to IMDB turned the film into pure gold when I found the alternate title, Night Crew: The Final Checkout. (The generic name was apparently slapped on by producers who wanted a harder hitting “slasher” type title.) I’ve seen slashers at camp, in the snow, in a toy store, creeping around old houses, or sleazing around in big cities, but I had never seen a maniac go to supermarket.
Just as the Walnut Lake Market is getting ready to close for the night, cashier Jennifer’s (Elizabeth Cox) ex-con ex-boyfriend Craig (David Byrnes) busts in the place trying to make trouble for her. The night crew there to stock the shelves ejects him from the store, but when people start going missing, Craig is the first suspect. With news of the store’s permanent closing in the air, perhaps someone has another motive for murder. Everyone from Randy the Butcher (Sam Raimi) to Produce Joe (Ted Raimi) to co-owner Bill (Dan Hicks) has to watch their backs or they’ll end up like new low, low prices…. slashed.
Synopsizing Intruder is kind of difficult because for the first half of the film not much happens, but then after the 45 minute mark the bodies start falling fast and furious. Speigel front loads his film with an array of interesting camera angles (the menacing POV shot from within a grocery cart is my favorite), stock character development, and a few bright spots of comedy mostly thanks to the brothers Raimi. When the blood started flowing, I expected the film to get a real boost, and it probably would, just not on Netflix. For all my glowing praise of their Instant Watch catalog, they went and did me wrong. The cut available to stream runs 83 minutes, which is apparently the original running time, but a 88 minute director cut was released later. What was cut you might ask? All the good bloody bits. Doing some reading about this film, I was quite distraught to find out that I missed out on meat hook murders and a head being sawed in two. I already had a suspicion something was up because every time it was about to get good, and it was maddeningly frustrating to watch.
The lead actress, Elizabeth Cox, ranks up there with one of the least engaging final girls out there, and it’s a shame that Emilio’s little sister was relegated to a supporting role. The bright spots in the film really come from Ted, who is always such a good understated comic actor, Sam, just because it’s Sam acting, and Dan Hicks (Maniac Cop, Evil Dead II, My Name is Bruce) who shines as the distraught co-owner. While the box art and posters for Intruder often tout Bruce Campbell as a headlining star, the reality is that he and producer Laurence Bender show up as cops in the last two minutes of the film. For some, that will be the highlight cameo of the film, but not for me. The first set of cops that comes to investigate the disturbances at the supermarket are played by Alvy Moore and Tom Lester, both veterans of the classic sitcom Green Acres.
Intruder came late in the slasher cycle, and it is one of the lesser entries in the genre. That being said, the marquee cast and (apparently) grisly murder scenes, thanks to the boys from K.N.B Efx house, will keep people looking in on this one for years. My advice is to check it out, but if you can see it somewhere other than Netflix Instant, then you might want to take that option. That’s just how it goes sometime when you dial up Instant Terror. Sometimes it will come out a little under-time and under-cooked. That about wraps it up for this week, but I hope you’ll come back next Tuesday to check out another Instant selection. Later this week, I’ll have another Jowderowky film coming up on Thursday, and then I’ll be taking off a few days for the city of Cincinnati for Horrorhound Weekend!