Mike’s Review: Intruder (1989)

★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Scott Spiegel

He’s Just Crazy About This Store!

This hop, skip, and jump down memory lane provides an incredible gory realization that horror films from the 1980s were silly, confusing, and nasty bits of business. Sure they were rather amateur-ish, but they were also exciting jumping off points for the masters of horror for decades to come! There’s Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Greg Nicotero, Bruce Campbell, Renée Estevez, and even famed Tarantino producer, Lawrence Bender. Some parts are smaller than others, but rest assured, they’re all there!

In an obvious nod to the sleazy and low-brow nature of the 1980s, Intruder entirely takes place in what appears to be a grocery store in serious decline. It’s dirty, disorganized, and derelict. All the local teens have been called in to spend an evening in the store doing a complete and thorough inventory. 

While largely dedicated to the effort the teens are quickly interrupted by lead cashier and final girl Jennifer’s (yes, it was that obvious from frame one that she’s the final girl) rough and tumble ex-boyfriend, Craig (David Byrnes). He wants Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox) back in the worst way and he’s decided to force his love on her in the middle of isle 6. To demonstrate his amorous wants and needs he takes on the gaggle of stock boys, the store’s manager, and the owner. 

Shortly after Craig is shown the literal and figurative door, the team gets back to their diligent spate of re-stocking canned goods. All is well in the suburban mart that is until each of the hapless and hopeless clerks, butchers, and stock boys begin to be murdered — one by one. Is Craig the culprit, or does the the poster — hint/hint — give it all away!?!?

In fairness, Intruder does devolve in to a very routine killing by numbers, BUT it’s the gruesome ways that each killing takes place that will have even the most hardened horror grimacing and running for the exits — not that people do that anymore. There’s paper holder receipt spike through the eye, there’s a head in a cardboard compressor, there’s the ol’ head in the meat slicer, and there’s even the use of a human head as a blunt instrument. If it was dangerous and it was in a grocery store in the late 1980s it got used as an implement of terror in Intruder. 

ATMOSfx! Woo!
This isn’t how a grocery store is supposed to work!

Unfortunately, even with the exceptional amount of gore and the wild amount of horror actor connections pulsing through the film, Intruder can be exceptionally uneven at times. It’s as if a somewhat decent cinematographer was canned midway through the filming and replaced with an expired grade D auteur. Some scenes are interesting and playfully constructed while others are out of focus and awkwardly choreographed. 

Putting aside Intruder’s decidedly 1980s patina, this film has a lot going for it. Most importantly is the ensemble cast of Raimis, Campbells, and Nicoteros. Sure some of them are barely in the film for 15 seconds, but their participation represents the independence of horror and the fact that these pillars of the horror community were all on the right track. 

In addition, now looking back 33 years, Intruder features an incredible trip down grocery store memory lane. With each scene either directly involving stocking of said grocery goods (Generic Beer, Fruit Brute, giant bags of popcorn, etc.) or using the goods as backdrop, Intruder is full of wonderful artifacts from years gone by. 

Whether you come for the intrigue of a 33-year old horror film, or stay for the wild amounts of glorious gore, Intruder will not disappoint. Not to mention, this is probably the last time you’ll ever see a TV Guide at a checkout stand!

Intruder is Rated R and streaming on Shudder. 

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