Intruder (1989)

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“The overnight stock crew of a local supermarket find themselves being stalked and slashed by a mysterious maniac.” — IMDb

The feature directorial debut of director Scott Spiegel, Intruder is TRULY a hidden gem among so many bloody films from the 80s. Spiegel hasn’t done a ton in the way of directing, but the dude has connections — he went to high school with Sam Raimi, which is also where he met Bruce Campbell. When he first moved to Los Angeles, he shared a house with Raimi as well as Joel and Ethan Coen, and in the 1990s he introduced Quentin Tarantino to producer Lawrence Bender, who would later help Reservoir Dogs get made. But really, even if he had nothing else to his name, Intruder would be enough.

It was heavily marketed as “starring” Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Ted Raimi, and while all of them do appear in the film, none are what could be considered “stars” (least of all Mr. Campbell). Though I’m sure the false promotion got a lot of people to see a pretty incredible slasher movie by accident.

Synopsis: The young staff of a small town supermarket close the store down and begin stocking the shelves for the next day when they find themselves being attacked and stalked by an unknown assailant.

** SPOILERS! **

Honestly, I knew I’d love this movie the second I heard the music in the opening credits. It was just… everything I hoped for (thanks, Basil Poledouris).

It’s the most amazing blend of cheesy 80s goodness, some genuinely good humor, over-the-top fight scenes, and truly creative gore.

I think the fact that it IS so stereotypically 80s in many ways, and so cheesy, makes some really innovative scenes get overlooked. There’s one where they toss rebellious Craig (David Byrnes) outside and you can see him staring in the front window with the employees’ reflections all staring out at him — awesome. They manage to utilize practically every freaking angle and feature of the grocery store in various shots — showing one of the girls taking a phone call from “inside” the phone, shooting up “through” the floor as another sweeps. You would think that the entire movie basically taking place inside one small grocery store would be boring, but the claustrophobia produced by them being trapped is only heightened by their creativity with such shots.

They have shot after shot where a bloody murder scene segues into a completely innocuous scene — someone getting stabbed merging with a shot of a co-worker slicing a watermelon, for example. The owner’s blood spilling onto the lamp that fell on the floor, and the light cast on the ceiling turning red. The side shot of Craig chasing Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox) as he jumps from lane to lane. Even one shot of Bill (Dan Hicks) — the seeming “good guy” of the two owners — being shown through the glass of a bottle, producing a sort of funhouse mirror effect, warping and stretching his face as he looks around for Jennifer — all brilliant.

Even the ending — made all the better by a brief cameo from Bruce Campbell — is great, with Bill convincing the police that he was the one who was attacked and them being wrongfully arrested as we see that he has successfully escaped. Just truly awesome from top to bottom!

Rating: 7/10 | Director: Scott Spiegel | Writer: Scott Spiegel, Lawrence Bender | Cinematography: Fernando Argüelles | Music: Basil Poledouris | Starring: Elizabeth Cox, Renée Estevez, Dan Hicks, David Byrnes, Sam Raimi, Eugene Robert Glazer, Burr Steers, Ted Raimi, Bruce Campbell

 

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