Intruder Blu-ray Review
Directed by Scott Spiegel
Written by Scott Spiegel and Lawrence Bender
1989, Region A (NTSC), 88 minutes, Unrated
Blu-ray released on December 13th, 2011
Elizabeth Cox as Jennifer
Renee Esteves as Linda
Danny Hicks as Bill Roberts
David Byrnes as Craig
Sam Raimi as Randy
Ted Raimi as Produce Joe
Jennifer is having a rough night at the Walnut Lake Market where she works with her friends. Her crazy ex-boyfriend Craig is out of jail and has come to harass her and her co-workers, but that’s the least of her problems as it turns out the grocery is going out of business and tonight’s task is marking down all of the products for quick sale tomorrow. With Craig swiftly ejected from the premises Jennifer can get on with her work…until an unseen madman begins killing off the staff in an increasingly disgusting manner of mayhem.
I first heard of Intruder in the pages of Fangoria magazine in 1988, and was eager to see the next project from the guys that had just kicked my ass the previous summer with Evil Dead II. My interest grew when Intruder made waves as it graced the cover of Gorezone magazine with an image of a man’s face being sawed in half horizontally. The image drew controversy and newsstands pulled the issue from shelves. Everything I was seeing about this movie signaled that is was going to be the ultimate gory thrill ride. When the film finally arrived on home video, I eagerly raced to check it out, but was disappointed by the severity of the cuts imposed by the MPAA ratings board that removed virtually all of the murder set pieces and left me scratching my head at the confusing conclusion.
Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell also taught me a lesson about suggestive marketing. Both received prominent credits on the front of the box, but it’s not their movie. Scott Spiegel, a co-writer on Evil Dead II and long-time Raimi collaborator, gets that credit. In the nerd circle, Spiegel is credited with helping Quentin Tarantino start his career by introducing QT to producer Lawrence Bender and getting Reservoir Dogs made. KNB members Kurtzman, Nicotero and Berger met working under Mark Shostrum on Evil Dead II and formed their company with Intruder as their debut project. With all of the talent behind the camera and the fun script that runs far and fast with the conventions of the slasher decade, I had little trouble overcoming my initial reactions and immediately set out to find the original uncut version of the film (available on Japanese laser disc.)
Years later, Wizard Home Video released the director’s cut on a no-frills DVD that went out of print almost immediately. Now, Synapse has gone to unexpected lengths to secure all the elements available to make a definitive release on both DVD and Blu-ray. Working closely with director Spiegel, this new edition soars with everything you could ever want from this forgotten gem and even offers glimpses from the original work print and (now lost) 8mm short film.
On the surface Intruder is just another run-of-the-mill slasher film from the late 1980s. The standard plot elements are on display with a group of young adults trapped in an isolated location with a maniac on the loose, graphically murdering them one by one until he is ultimately dispatched by the final girl. Fair enough, but not really fair at all as this film has a sincerity that overcomes the clichés and breathes life into stock material that in lesser hands would grow tiresome. Here we have an upstart team of future f/x legends working with an enthusiastic director with a knack for capturing outrageous camera angles and quality suspense. It is nice to see an overlooked underground favorite get the opportunity to delight a whole new audience after more than two decades of neglect.
Video and Audio:
Synapse continues to impress with their technical specs and this is no exception as the picture has never looked better. Not to say this 1080p presentation is without fault, but any shortcomings are a result of the source material and its low-budget origins. The 1.78:1 aspect ratio is solid with nice saturation of color and rich blacks.
The audio is a straight forward DTS-HD mono track that will not punish your speakers, yet gets the job done nicely as dialogue remains clean and clear.
The best supplement offered is the half-hour behind the scenes retrospective “Slashed Prices: The Making of Intruder” featuring interviews with the majority of the cast and crew.
Scott Spiegel and Lawrence Bender sit down for a commentary track that is relaxed and conversational and equally informative. It is nice to hear them discuss a project that is clearly special to them.
“Extended Murder Sequences from the Original Workprint” is self-explanatory and provides additional moments of violence from the rough edit of the film.
Up next, we get some brief footage from Night Crew, the now lost original 8mm short film starring Sam Raimi and shot by Bruce Campbell, that shows the inspiration for Intruder.
"The Slashing of Intruder" with Filmmaker Vincent Pereira offers a testimonial from a fan who felt cheated by the censored VHS release of the film and what he did about it. Nice addition.
A Behind-the-Scenes stills gallery has been included and is also self-explanatory.
Original Cast Audition footage is a collection of videos from the casting session in surprisingly fine quality for 23-year-old VHS.
A collection of spoiler-heavy theatrical trailers (foreign and domestic) rounds out the extra features.
Intruder is packaged as a Blu-ray/DVD combo offering the film in both formats.
Fans that were quick to order this title directly from the company website received a bonus disc that contains a full copy of the original workprint.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are not a reflection of the Blu-ray image. They were captured using the standard DVD.*