Okay, you know how Joe Bob Briggs coined the phrase "Spam in a Cabin" to describe one of the most tried and true horror formulas of the 1980s? Y'know, a gaggle of horny twentysomethings trot off to some hopelessly out-of-the-way cabin to drink and screw, and with no chance of escape and no one to come to their rescue, they get slaughtered one by one? Anyway, Intruder sticks to that same basic story, only instead of Spam-in-a-cabin, it's more like Spam-in-a-supermarket. Wait, I need a better analogy. Anyway, Intruder is set at a floundering grocery store, and the night crew has just gotten word that the place is gonna be leveled into an oversized parking lot or something. The store's dumping all of its inventory, and these kids have to spend all night marking every box of cereal and every can of Alpo down to half-price. 'Sjust that with some deranged nutjob having trapped himself inside the store with them, the prices aren't the only things being sliced down the middle...
Intruder wound up being a victim of hacking and slashing itself, cut to ribbons to try to score an R from the MPAA back at the tailend of the '80s when the ratings board was at its most skittish. It wasn't even just that the red stuff was wiped away; so much of the violence was gutted out that the movie wasn't even coherent anymore. This DVD/Blu-ray combo release from Synapse, meanwhile,
I sort of want to save the splatter for later, though, seeing as how Intruder has a hell of a lot more going for it than that. It's one of those movies that knows exactly what it wants to be, and it's the work of people who are having a blast getting there. Most '80s slashers, as much as I love 'em, are kind of like Godzilla flicks; the guys in rubber suits stomping on Tokyo really only get, like, twenty minutes of screentime, and everything else revolves around a bunch of annoying characters doing boring, wholly uninteresting things to pad out the runtime. Intruder, on the other hand, screams along a pretty manic pace. There's not a lot of downtime, it doesn't get distracted by trying to tack on a bunch of backstories no one could really care less about, and the movie never goes more than five or six feet outside the supermarket. All killer; no filler. The most recognizable names on the bill -- Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Ted Raimi -- all have really small roles, but they're part of a shockingly great cast that has a helluva lot more talent than you normally get in vintage slasher flicks. As thinly sketched as pretty much all of their characters are, this cast infuses them with a lot of personality,
Oh, and then there's the gore. Intruder is the movie that helped get the legendary KNB EFX off the ground, and even more than a couple decades later, its barrel drums of splatter still hold up astonishingly well. I don't want to give away the best stuff for anyone who hasn't seen this cut of Intruder before (and I'm guessing that's pretty much everyone reading this), but I'll just say that a supermarket makes for a hell of a backdrop in a slasher flick: meathooks, carving knives, an oversized trash compactor, that bandsaw on the deli counter... The first few kills are kind of routine, sure, but the grue gets more and more fucked up as Intruder hacks its way forward. Not only is KNB's effects work gruesome and sopping with blood, but a lot of those kills have a cacklingly clever sense of humor to them too. I mean, when one character has a butcher knife whacked through the top of his head, his headphones get split down the middle and pop off. Another poor bastard is cut off at the waist, and...well, just look at the screengrab over there. What kind of caught me offguard is that even though Intruder seems like it's just out to have a blood-spattered good time for a while there, the extended climax is genuinely claustrophobic and intense. It sure doesn't hurt that the third act is shouldered by a particularly great Final Girl, and the killer is gleefully psychopathic...a far cry from those stone-faced, silent Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers types. Intruder's final moments are also wildly unconventional for a slasher, but I'm obviously not gonna say too much about that here.
If you'd chalk yourself up as a slasher fan, then this unrated director's cut of Intruder is pretty much required viewing. This high-def remaster is worlds removed from the excessively soft, kind of washed-out, and heavily cut videos and DVDs that have been floating around for the past couple of decades, Synapse has assembled an impressively loaded special edition release, and...well, Intruder is just a hell of a lot of fun and without question one of the very best slashers I've ever come across. Highly Recommended.
Not surprisingly, Intruder is another check in the win column for Synapse Films. Every last frame of this brand-new high-def remaster is impressively natural and filmic, free of any awkward processing or filtering. That late
Intruder and all of its extras are spread across both layers of this BD-50 disc. The movie's served up on Blu-ray at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and has been encoded with AVC. The second disc in the set is an anamorphic widescreen DVD, and no matter which format you pull out of the case, you can rest easy that it's region-free.
This two-channel mono DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack doesn't impress quite as much, though, with mild noise buzzing around in the background, a high-end that starts to show a little strain, and next to nothing going on in the lower frequencies. I even had to dial down the volume a few notches lower than normal for it to sound comfortable to my ears. At the same time, it kind of reminded me of Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release of The Stepfather from a while back; its audio wasn't sparklingly clean either, but it also sounded so...pure and untainted that I felt as if I could see the master tapes unspooling right in front of me or whatever. Even though the audio hasn't been polished to a glossy sheen, I definitely didn't run into any trouble making out every last line of the film's dialogue, and there aren't any distracting pops or clicks along the way. Nothing remarkable, no, but the audio here is perfectly listenable, and I can't say I was disappointed.
Commentary aside, that's it for audio options: no dubs, subtitles, or alternate mixes this time around.
Synapse Films has a limited edition of Intruder that they're selling exclusively on their website, featuring an extra DVD-R with Scott Spiegel's original workprint cut of the movie. More splatter, more dialogue, and raw production audio so you can actually hear direction being barked out. That's a pretty compelling extra, although if you'd just as soon save a few bucks by ordering from Amazon or whatever, you're not being shortchanged; all of the additional
In case you missed it a few paragraphs up, Intruder is a combo release, and both the DVD and Blu-ray discs in the set are all-region, so...import away!
The Final Word
I mean, I've been aware of Intruder for ages, but even with as much of an '80 slasher scholar as I say I am, I somehow managed to avoid getting around to seeing it until now. This first time through was all it took for me to say that Intruder is now one of my all-time favorite slashers: wickedly clever, inventively photographed, sopping with splatter, intense when it needs to be, and willing to buck convention. It's scored a Blu-ray disc to match too. The gore that was gutted out of so many other VHS and DVD releases has been reinstated with this director's cut, there are a hell of a lot of extras, and...well, it's Synapse, so obviously Intruder looks incredible in high-def. Highly Recommended.