Release Date(s)1989 (December 13, 2011)
Studio(s)Empire Pictures (Synapse Films)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A
In the late 1980’s, the slasher craze was wearing thin, at best. People were still making them, but they were beginning to lose their value to distributors, at least theatrically and within the drive-in market, which was closing down fast. Many slashers went unnoticed or just went straight-to-video, which was suddenly the new thing. After producing a number of horror projects along the same lines, Scott Spiegel and Lawrence Bender decided to take a “stab” at one of their own, creating one of the goriest, garage band, semi-professional slashers of the era: Intruder.
Intruder’s plot is simple enough: a bunch of folks our trapped in a grocery store and are knocked off one by one... and by knocked off, I mean they are horrifically slaughtered. The movie really is one of the most effective and most impressive slashers as far as the special effects are concerned. You need look no further than during the scene wherein one of the characters gets his head cut in half on a band saw. The look of the dummy used for that effect was so realistic that it’s no wonder the distributors came down so hard on the movie.
Intruder was also publicized in several fanzines, especially “GoreZone”, prior to its release because of its carnage, but when it eventually hit home video, it was cut to shreds, much like its characters. Thankfully, it wasn’t a case wherein all of the cut footage was discarded or lost, as is the case with many of the slashers of that era, including several of the Friday the 13th sequels. Instead, the unrated and uncensored Director’s Cut was saved. What’s more, the original workprint for the film, which is a little more gorier that its Director’s Cut counterpart, was saved as well.
Now when I say that Intruder is a bit like a garage band, I mean that it’s a competent garage band running on all cylinders. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the movie was shot remarkably well, and features some over-the-top performances, which were just right for the material. Besides the aforementioned make-up effects, there are also some terrific visual gags, a very effective score, and a bit of a twist ending... a gut punch, if you will. It’s one of the few slashers that goes for throat and completely severs it from the torso. It’s top-notch entertainment for both horror fans and gore-hounds alike.
Thanks to Synapse Films, Intruder is available for the first time in high definition via a new 2K high-definition transfer. It’s a top-notch presentation, but not without its imperfections, which are mostly inherent in the original photography. Grain is handled quite well, being only marginal enough to reveal the fine amount of detail on display, of which there is plenty. It’s a very sharp presentation given its apparent softness, but with great color reproduction, especially pertaining to skin tones. Black levels are fairly deep, and both brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. There are no signs of digital enhancement to be found, but there are some film artifacts left behind including some light noise, dirt splotches, and an occasional thin black line here or there. For the audio presentation, there’s only a single option: English 2.0 DTS-HD. It’s an effective track without a whole lot of heft to it. Dialogue is always crisp and clear, as is the score. Sound effects, in particular, have some nice spacing to them, but don’t expect much in terms of major speaker-to-speaker activity. Overall, it’s a major upgrade of a movie that surely deserves to be seen in a much more favorable way. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles to choose from.
As for the supplemental materials, there’s a nice treasure trove to dig through. There’s an audio commentary with writer/director Scott Spiegel and producer Lawrence Bender; the Slashed Prices: The Making of Intruder featurette; a set of extended “murder” sequences taken from the original workprint; a set of outtakes from the Night Crew short film; The Slashing of Intruder, a featurette about the film with filmmaker Vincent Pereira; original cast audition tapes; a behind-the-scenes still gallery; the original theatrical trailer; a trailer for Night Crew; and a DVD copy of the movie, as well. When this release was first put on the market, the first 500 copies of it came with the full workprint version on a separate DVD in a sleeve as an bonus. Sadly, this disc is nigh impossible to track down today.
Synapse Films’ Blu-ray release of Intruder is an excellent one. Never a company that releases an inferior product, they hit yet another home run with this one. If you haven’t seen Intruder, I highly recommend you pick this disc up. And if you have, you owe it to yourself to revisit it for the superior quality.
- Tim Salmons