Intruder (1989)

07/10/2020 06:40

Film: Intruder

Year: 1989

Director: Scott Spiegel

Writer: Scott Spiegel

Starring: Elizabeth Cox, Renée Estevez and Dan Hicks



This was another movie that I never heard of until podcasts. It is interesting that this slasher came out later in the heyday of slashers. It is interesting though as this one feels more like an early one as by this time, they were going much heavier with the comedy. That’s not to say we don’t get some of that here, but not like you’d see with Dr. Giggles that came out a few years after or Killer Klowns from Outer Space. The second one isn’t necessarily a slasher, but contains elements. To get into this movie, the synopsis is the overnight stock crew of a local supermarket find themselves being stalked and slashed by a mysterious maniac.

As the synopsis states, this is an older grocery store in what seems like a small town. The two girls running the cash registers are Jennifer Ross (Elizabeth Cox) and Linda (Renée Estevez). Linda is wondering if Dave asked her out and Jennifer states she isn’t sure if he’s still with his girlfriend or not. Also working at this store is Dave (Billy Marti) who is a stocker along with Bub (Burr Steers) and Tim (Craig Stark). The owner is Danny (Eugene Robert Glazer) and his co-owner as well as manager is Bill Roberts (Dan Hicks). There is also Randy (Sam Raimi) who is the butcher and Produce Joe (Ted Raimi).

The night takes a turn when Craig Peterson (David Byrnes) shows up at closing time. He briefly dated Jennifer a couple years ago, but from a story we learn later, he got into a fight and killed a guy. Where he was sent away to prison for incident. Jennifer never answered his letters, so he is there for closure. I can understand being upset that she just cut him off, but he’s going about this all wrong. It comes off horrible and misogynistic. This becomes a scene where everyone in the store is trying to fight him as well as Jennifer getting hit in the face, causing a nosebleed.

Craig flees into the store and we get an interesting looking around the place. They do finally get him pushed outside when he reveals himself by accosting Jennifer while he’s on the phone with the police. It then gets revealed that Danny and Bill are selling the place. We can see that Bill is a bit reluctant, but he also only owns 49%. The night crew has been called in to help reprice everything in the store as they’re pretty much going to do a close-out sale as they are going to be closing the first of the month.

Despite being outside, Craig doesn’t leave. He continues to look in the front door and some of the windows. The police even show up, but they don’t find him. Bill does catch him looking in a window and goes out to confront him. We see that Bill gets hit in the head with the hammer that he brought out. From here, the members of the nightshift are picked off one by one. Is it Craig, with his history or violence, or someone else?

That’s where I want to leave my recap as this is a slasher film that doesn’t have the deepest story to it. What I did find interesting before I saw this was to learn that Sam Raimi, his brother Ted, and Bruce Campbell all helped out to make this. It makes a lot of sense when I investigated the writer/director Scott Spiegel worked with Sam as a writer for Evil Dead II back a couple of years before this movie. Campbell and Raimis were friends growing up, so it all makes sense.

Even though the story isn’t too deep, I love the setting. It didn’t seem to have the biggest budget, I’m assuming right around Evil Dead II money, but I think they do quite a bit with what they had to work with. The killer does use a knife for many of the kills, which is standard. I love though that they use items you’d find in like the meat department and in the back of a grocery store. I worked for a summer in the produce section at local store so this hit a sweet spot for me. It wasn’t anything like this, but it also was 15 years after this movie and times really had changed.

Even though I did like what they were presenting with the story, I do think that they could have done a bit better with the story. They are pushing hard with Craig being the killer and don’t really give you anything else. I’m not saying that he’s not the killer, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think the movie could have been just a bit better if they played a bit more with the red herrings. I guessed the reveal early into the movie, which I’m not the biggest fan when that happens. I do like the reasoning behind it but avoid the poster and from what I’m told, the trailer, if you can. Depending on which you see, it could spoil the reveal.

What are also impressive about this movie though are the effects. I was shocked to see KNB were behind the effects. It makes sense as all three worked together previously on Evil Dead II and had gotten their starts behind the camera just a few years prior. They do well at not showing the first couple of deaths with some interesting editing to something that Produce Joe is doing. It really does ramp up though from there. They went practical and you see how good these guys were with special effects/make-up as the deaths look great. Again, they’re using items you’d find in the grocery store for some of the deaths and that make it better. The cinematography is also good. We get some interesting angles like from the base of a phone while it is being used. We also get homage paid to Mario Bava and Dario Argento where a light bulb gets blood on it and it makes the light red. There’s also a shot through a bottle of what looks like Maker’s Mark to make the light green too.

I’ll shift this over to the acting next. I thought for the most part it was solid. Cox is good as the lead, but it is interesting that she does disappear for a stretch. I don’t think she’s a great final girl and the movie probably should have done a bit more to build that up. Estevez was fine as her friend. She isn’t in the movie that long though. It was fun to see Hicks, who was also in Evil Dead II. He is that awkward manager who is trying to fit in with his younger employees and it made me laugh. The rest of the cast is fine, there are some issues with fleshing out some of the characters which makes it hard to tell them apart. The roles that Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi and the cameo from Campbell are fun though.

The last thing I’ll go over and it also surprised me was the soundtrack to the movie. It isn’t one that I would go back and listen to when I’m not watching this movie, but I thought it was good for what they needed. It helps to build the tension with a nice 80’s vibe that worked for what they were going for here.

Now with that said, I came in without much in the way of expectations and ended up enjoying this movie. It has a cool setting and some good effects that carry the movie. The soundtrack helps to build up the feel the movie is going for and the acting is decent enough. I don’t think that it is great though as some of the more minor characters aren’t overly fleshed out and I had issues remembering which character was who. I will say, it is a slasher, so it doesn’t necessarily matter. I do think a bit more could have been added to the story as it is basic. I’d say this is above average and just fun, but don’t come in expecting it to be great. 


My Rating: 7 out of 10