31 Days of Gore: Intruder (1989)

It’s October. Time to talk horror. This year I’m reviewing a different horror movie each day of the month.

the trailer spoils the identity of the killer; so does this review
(you wouldn’t be surprised anyway)

What do you think of when you hear the word “intruder?” Do you think about a homicidal bum breaking into your house? An alien borrowing human heads so he can pass as one of us? A clueless house guest who just won’t fucking leave?

Not me. I think about a maniac killing the night crew at a grocery store.

To be fair, the filmmakers probably had their movie renamed by a greedy distributor or something, but this has gotta be one of the most misleading titles I’ve seen in a long time. An intruder means someone who intrudes. Not someone who’s been there the entire time.

When a horror film takes such care to foreshadow its trash compactor, its meat hooks, a ticket spike, and literally everything else someone can be killed with in a grocery store, there just isn’t enough room for surprises. I’ve heard splatter fans talk about Intruder as if it were some kind of forgotten masterpiece. Maybe that’s the reason I’m disappointed.

It’s the first feature directed by Scott Spiegel. It was produced by Lawrence Bender. It includes not one Raimi brother, but two. KNB does the special effects. If these names mean nothing to you, then skip this one. Yesterday’s Death Spa offers a lot more bang for the buck.

The cover art for Intruder bills the names of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi prominently, as if they’re the stars of the picture. They’re probably the biggest stars in it, but they play very minor roles: Campbell shows up about three minutes before the credits roll while Raimi spends most of his time hanging from a meat hook. Dan Hicks, who played the hillbilly in Evil Dead 2, probably offers the best performance in Intruder, but he certainly doesn’t save it.

He could have, though, if the film didn’t play the usual killer-in-the-shadows POV bullshit. I’m not spoiling anything the trailer didn’t already show: Dan Hicks is the killer. Anyone who thought the killer was the stalker boyfriend is probably the kind of person who thinks wrestling is real. It’s never the guy they want you to believe is the killer, which is why we get so much bullshit for two-thirds of the movie.

Whenever the camera ends up in a shopping basket or hovers over the actors at extreme angles, it’s obvious Spiegel learned how to direct from his friend Sam Raimi. But Raimi wouldn’t have directed such an average piece of material like this, wouldn’t have used such tired tricks on viewers who already know every trick in the book. While there are some good gags in it and a few good special effects, the Intruder is just mediocre and trite, and that’s a lot more annoying than a movie that flat out sucks.

My girlfriend felt much the same during this one. She did, however, like the way the film ended. That was one area in which they get points for originality.

Come back at midnight Central Time for the next movie.

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