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INTRUDER

This late eighties slasher is notable for introducing a wealth of behind-the-scenes talent, and as an alleged influence on Quentin Tarantino.  Quality-wise it isnít much, but does contain some inspired touches.

The Package
     The ultra-low budget INTRUDER (1988; a.k.a. NIGHT CREW) was the directorial debut of Scott Spiegel.  At the time Spiegel was known for co-writing EVIL DEAD 2 and THOU SHALT NOT KILL...EXCEPT.  Heíd go on to co-script the 1990 Clint Eastwood programmer THE ROOKIE, direct FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2 and MODESTY BLAISE, and mentor a young Quentin Tarantino.  In this instance the presence of Lawrence Bender, Tarantinoís future producing partner, was particularly notable.  INTRUDER, a claustrophobic piece shot almost entirely inside a cramped supermarket, marked Benderís first-ever producing credit, and was apparently quite influential on Bender and Tarantinoís RESERVOIR DOGS--the two films, youíll find, share many similarities.
     Other behind-the-scenes talents were the KNB Group of make-up artists Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger.  Look also for Spiegelís EVIL DEAD cohorts Sam & Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell in small roles, as well as GREEN ACRESí late Alvy Moore. 
     BTW, until Wizard Entertainmentís mid-00ís DVD release, it was difficult if not impossible to view this film in its intended version.  Its initial distributor Paramount promised to release the film on video in both R and unrated versions, but ultimately reneged on the deal, only putting out an R rated cut with all the gore--INTRUDERíS sole reason for existence--excised. 

The Story 
     Outside a just-closed small-town supermarket one night, check-out girl Jennifer spots her deranged ex-boyfriend.  Heís clearly looking for trouble, and finds it upon entering the store and violently confronting Jennifer.  An altercation ensues between Jennifer, her BF and several hunky night crewmen, and the psycho is thrown out.
     At this point the establishmentís manager Danny delivers some devastating news to his employees: heís going to close down the store for good.  All are upset but valiantly go about their duties, unaware that Jenniferís deranged BF still lurks outside.  One by one the storeís crewmembers are killed off in various gruesome ways: by hook, knife, meat cleaver, hammer, hydraulic press, stiletto and table saw, with scattered body parts later turning up in unlikely places.  Jenniferís none-too-better half is the obvious culprit, although it increasingly seems that somebody else is committing the murders (especially since Jennifer appears to inadvertently kill her BF long before the end) for reasons that may have something to do with the storeís closure. 

The Direction 
     In most respects INTRUDER is a pretty standard film of its type, complete with poor staging, stilted acting, a one-note script and uniformly crummy gore effects, all standard eighties slasher movie shortcomings.  What the film has in its favor is a puckish sense of humor, evident in the discovery of a guyís torso in a garbage can with a 1/2 Price sticker affixed, as well as the many severed body parts that turn up in unlikely locations (an eyeball in a pickle jar, a severed hand in a lobster tank and pair of severed feet placed beside a toilet).  Thereís also a fun severed head gag near the end, with the head used to fake out the heroine--and later as a battering ram! 
     Unfortunately Scott Spiegelís sense of humor also entails quite a few irritating inanimate object POV shots (a turning doorknob, a phone dial, a booze bottle) that do noting but call attention to themselves and lessen the suspense.  Correction: what suspense?  Thereís little to be had in this silly stalk Ďn slash flick, and even the bloodletting, allegedly so extreme it had to be excised from the filmís initial VHS version, never goes beyond the level of a FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH movie.  But at least INTRUDER, unlike most of its brethren, is fully conscious of its inherent absurdity and isnít afraid to have fun with it.


Vital Statistics 

INTRUDER (DEATH CREW)
Phantom Productions 

Director: Scott Spiegel
Producer: Lawrence Bender
Screenplay: Scott Spiegel
Cinematography: Fernando Arguelles
Editing: King Wilder
Cast: Elizabeth Cox, Danny Hicks, David Byrnes, Renee Estevez, Sam Raimi, Eugene Glazer, Billy Marti, Burr Steers, Craig Stark, Ted Raimi, Alvy Moore, Tom Lester, Emil Sitka, Bruce Campbell, Lawrence Bender
 


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