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Intruder is a fun and delightfully gory late 80s slasher that perfectly exemplifies the direction the sub-genre took from the more somber and intense early 80s entries. These flicks now had a sense of humor about themselves and were far more ‘self-aware’ than the ones that were inspired by Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These films were more colorful, focused far more on bloody body count and were made knowing there was a slasher/horror savvy audience watching and openly acknowledged the films that came before them.
This film takes place at the Walnut Lake Market where the night crew is closing up and getting the store ready for when it reopens the following morning. But the mood is somber as the employees have been informed that the store is being sold and they soon will be out of jobs…that and pretty cashier Jennifer’s (Elizabeth Cox) thug ex-boyfriend Craig (David Byrnes) is out of jail and is harassing her at the store. But soon the night shift becomes a nightmare as someone is stalking the employees one by one and slaughtering them in the most gruesome ways. Is it the spurned ex-con Craig?…or is there someone else out there with a grudge against the market and demented enough to kill them all. Will any of them escape The Walnut Lake Market alive?
Written and directed by Scott Spiegel from a story by he and producer Lawrence Bender, this flick is a whole lot of slasher flick fun. The proceedings are taken seriously, but the film is written and directed with a wink to the audience that the filmmakers know they are watching and know what to expect and they are going to get it, covered in buckets of blood. The film is not very suspenseful, but does have some nice atmosphere, thanks in part to Fernando Argüelles’ cinematography and a cool score by the great Basil Poledouris. It’s made with the understanding that you know who’s getting it and when and now it’s the anticipation as to see which gruesome manner it should be…the ban saw, the butcher knife, the trash compactor…or all of the above? And we get those gruesome kills with some delightfully nostalgic prosthetics and gallons of blood. The film knows that the premise that no one notices they are being offed one by one, or hears any of the screams is ridiculous, but goes with it, yet, never makes a joke out of it. Spiegel takes a likable bunch of young working stiffs and decimates them effectively in the setting of the empty grocery store and has a good time doing and so do we. The slasher formula is followed well and the film never insults us by assuming we haven’t seen it all before. In fact, the nods and winks to the genre make this ooze with nostalgia all these years later as, it is both slasher and slasher homage all in one.
Getting back to the likable bunch of employees/victims…Elizabeth Cox makes a solid lead. She’s pretty, perky and when she finally realizes what’s going on, she is a resilient heroine as is part of the slasher tradition. Sam and Ted Raimi have small parts as butcher and produce workers respectively and the tools of their trade make the killer’s job a lot easier. Craig Stark is fine as Tim, a potential love interest for Jennifer and pretty much the male lead. David Byrnes is appropriately slimy as Craig who is obviously, as dictated by the formula, being set up as our #1 suspect. The rest of the supporting cast are also lively in their cliché roles which includes fun cameos by Spiegel, Bender and horror icon Bruce Campbell.
I had a real blast with this film. I love the 80s era horror and this flick not only is one, but it’s self-aware tone sets it up as a homage as well, which makes it a fun nostalgic viewing all these years later! In fact, I will go as far too say that it probably works far better now as homage than it did back then, at a point when the slasher genre was burning itself out. It’s got plenty of inventive and very gory kills and while it concentrates more on killing off it’s cast than trying to generate any real tension, it gets away with it by being obvious about it’s intentions and having fun with the fact that it respects that this is not the first horror flick we have all seen. A fun, deviously gory slasher flick that all these years later now works as a nostalgia filled homage, as well as, a fun horror flick. A very underrated and entertaining 80s slasher.
3 and 1/2 butcher knives.