Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Film Review: INTRUDER (1989, Scott Spiegel)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 88 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Elizabeth Cox (marketing said "Elizabeth Cox of SIXTEEN CANDLES!" but she was an uncredited high-schooler extra. Also in NIGHT OF THE CREEPS), Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Lawrence Bender, Bruce Campbell, Renee Estevez (SLEEPAWAY CAMP II, HEATHERS), Dan Hicks (EVIL DEAD II, DARKMAN).
Tag-lines: "If this one does not scare you, you're already dead!" and "A new dimension in terror." What? The trailer uses all sorts of stuff about "slashing prices" and "checking out."
Best one-liner: "I'm just crazy about this store!"

From Scott Spiegel (a Raimi crony) and Lawrence Bender (Tarantino's producer) comes INTRUDER, a serviceable late 80's slasher that thrives on clichés, minimum wage malaise, and creative gore FX by a young Greg Nicotero. It's not a great film, nor is it an exceptionally good one, yet, for all intents and purposes, it ought to leave the discerning 80's horror fan well-sated. The milieu will be all-too-familiar to the cross-section of the population who has ever had to suffer the horror of working at a grocery store (be it bagging, cashiering, meat, produce, or night stock).

The grocery store offers a special, contemptible form of ennui, punctuated by nagging customers, exploitative superiors, and the occasional murderous thought. But while the setting and acting are decidedly American in flavor, the style is exquisitely European.

The cinematography by Spaniard Fernando Argüelles (WALKER, TEXAS RANGER) hilariously subscribes to the Giallo school of thought, whereupon the more ridiculous a POV shot can be, the better. (See: Argento's POVs of butterflies, a drain, an ominous wind, etc.) Here, we're entreated to POV shots of a telephone as it's being dialed, a mop sloshing around in a bucket, an upended lamp as blood drips onto the bulb, a trash can, the bread rack, the floor, etc.

There's inventive, shocking imagery; cameos by the Raimis and Bruce Campbell;

a clichéd soundtrack full of crashing piano crescendos and loopy strings; and the villain (who at one point delivers a beating using a decapitated head as a bludgeon) is surprisingly awesome, so we do a little bit better than okay. Still, it lacks that truly masterful, artistic, or spit-take inducing element that would push it over the edge and make it a classic. I'd put it on par with APRIL FOOL'S DAY or CUTTING CLASS. Three stars.

-Sean Gill

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