Do you ever see a movie where, you watch the film, and for whatever reason, you just kind of "get into it"? Well, I used to feel that way about today's flick, Intruder. For some reason, I remember the highlights as being a lot more gory and crazy than they actually are. I still kind of liked it, just for the inexplicable weirdness of everything, but it's a VERY dated film.
Overall, it has just enough oddball shit going on to make the end result sort of a fun time(but only if you're a dude who watches movies to make fun of them). Now, my first bone to pick with this thing is the title. Intruder? Couldn't they have shown at least a LITTLE creativity? The thing's set in a grocery store, how about something like Slaughtermarket? 10 Corpses or Less? Death-icatessen? Stop 'n' Chop? Gross-Eerie Store? See how easy that was, movie?
Second complaint: Having folks like Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell in it. Now normally that would make me want to see it even more. But they literally have nothing, walk-on roles! Probably all did their scenes in a couple of hours, then went home to sleep on mattresses stuffed with million-dollar bills. Well, okay, maybe not. But they still could have been used better. Especially Bruce, whose ONE SCENE has him playing it straight for once.
The story itself is surprisingly pretty relevant to today's audiences: A local grocery store is closing, and the small staff of the night shift are trapped inside with a killer. So we get a small cast of isolated folks, a creepy night-time setting, and lots of props for a killer to use. So let's get to it!!
The movie begins with a moon right out of Transylvania. We see the aforementioned "stars" named as the cheesiest music ever heard in a horror film plays. I had to go back to the title screen, to make sure I didn't rent Haunted Honeymoon or Transylvania 6-5000 instead. Nope, it's Intruder! Ah, apparently this thing was produced by Bender from "Futurama", and directed by the Spiegel's catalog folks. Neat-o!
As the movie finally leaves the haunted Transylvanian countryside, we see 2 young women at the registers, gossiping and bagging groceries. An elderly customer complains that they're not paying attention to what they're doing, and his grocery bag breaks open to help him make his point...HEY!!! Maybe he's the killer, seeking revenge for his spilled items! No? Okay, movig on...
The 2 girls, Linda and Jennifer, share a laugh over ruining his night. Jen decides to go out to the parking lot and gather stray shopping carts. As she spends waaaaay too much time organizing the carriages into a neat row, a scruffy-looking guy is watching her from about 2 feet away. This being a slasher flick, she doesn't see him, even when he pushes a shopping cart toward her. Smart, observant chick. Nice ass, though.
Anyway, as Jennifer returns to her register, Scruffy Fonz(aka "Craig") approaches her. Apparently, Craig and Jen recently broke up, and he's having a hard time accepting it. He begins causing a scene, and when some of the other employees try to calm him down, he attacks them and then runs deeper into the supermarket to get away. They all split up to find him. Gee, splitting up sounds like a smart, safe idea!
We see a bargain-basement Keanu Reeves-type steal a package of cookies while no one's looking. Another guy wanders around in the deli department's meat locker. He thinks he hears a noise, but it appears to be only the wind flowing between his ears. We get a few more scenes like these. Geez, just die already, store employees!!
While the employees are wandering around scaring each other and wasting my time, Jen's been busy trying to report Craig to the police. He sneaks up on her and hangs up the phone before she can give them any details. When he tries to grab her and give her a kiss, 3 male employees sneak up behind HIM and grab him. Maybe this movie should have been called Sneaker! They drag him to the entrance, throw him out of the store, and lock the door behind him. Jen calls the cops AGAIN, and they promise to send a squad car right over.
The manager and his assistant manager hold a staff meeting. After congratulating everyone for how they helped Jen, they also announce that the store has been sold. After being told that they have a month of employment left, the manager leaves assistant manager Bill(also his brother) to deal with all of their complaints. What a great guy.
As everyone goes back to work(mostly to clean up the mess made by Craig), Jen begins getting scary phone calls. She tells Linda that she broke up with Craig because he was abusive and violent, to the point where he actually killed someone during a fight. He went away for awhile, but he somehow became a free man again, putting Jen's life in danger.
So, at around the 26-minute mark of a movie that's only 83 minutes long, the Keanu-reject and Linda discuss Jen's ex, the psycho. He was apparently obsessed with her and began stalking her after his father died, doing drugs, stealing. Whatever, just START DYING ALREADY, WILL YA??!!??!!
Okay, moving right along...So, they all decide to take a late-night snack break. Yeah, because when a dangerous dude is stalking you at your place of employment late at night, FOOD is your most pressing concern. Anyway, Bill decides to tell them all a story. He was once a volunteer fireman, which meant that in his small town he was called in on all sorts of strange "emergencies". So one night he and a buddy were called to the scene of an accident, and found that the victim of this car wreck had been beheaded. While he and his partner were looking for the missing head, the other guy was apparently eating a sandwich. When they found the head, the guy was still eating the burger in one hand while carrying the head with his free hand. Charming story, Bill. Hey, this one time, at Band Camp...
Thankfully, before Bill gets to tell another great story, the cops finally arrive. They make Barney Fife look like Columbo. After the world's quickest "investigation", these 2 geniuses leave a business card with the group and decide to make a hasty retreat. God forbid that they should look around the premises at all. When Jen and Linda talk at the registers again, Jen's nose is starting to bleed. Again. Hey, wouldn't it be cool if she was the killer in Valentine, instead of David Boreanaz? No? Oh well, I tried to make this thing more interesting for a minute. Sue me. Gee, Valentine was a good movie. I should rent that again...
So, here we are, now 32 minutes into a slasher film with no slasher and no victims. I've seen more thrills on "I-Carly". So Linda goes out to her car to pack up some groceries she wanted to bring home with her, and hears a noise. She puts the bags into the back of her car, and the killer raises a ginormous butcher knife. Aaaaand....scene. Dammit. But hey, at least we finally have a body count. Sort of.
The 2 brothers who are closing the store are having an argument about...closing the store. Repetition, thy name is Intruder. Bill wants to stay in business, his brother could care less. Fascinating stuff. So glad they decided to show us this scene(and a rather pointless scene where Ted Raimi cuts a watermelon in the goofiest way possible), instead of Linda's murder. Bold choice, fellas.
As Bill leaves, he hears a noise out back behind the store. Going out for a quick look around, Bill spots Craig skulking around while peeping on Jen through a window. There's a quick scuffle that ends with Craig knocking down Bill and sneaking back into the store. MORE pointless clips of people cleaning up follow. This is quickly becoming the biggest snoozefest in slasher-film history
As I begin to lose my will to live, something else happens. The manager is assaulted at his desk. To no one's surprise, his death involves the clutter on his desk. See, kids? Neat people never get murdered. He eventually gets impaled on the friggin' Godzilla-sized nail on his desk where he slams down all his memos. Before the killer leaves, he takes a peek out of the manager's small store window, to look for his next target.
Meanwhile, Jen gets a call from Linda's house: she never arrived at home, and they're worried. Freaked out by the way her night's been going, Jen seeks solace from a male co-worker. He calms her down, but then also decides to make a move on her. She kisses him back, and now ANOTHER co-worker is watching the show while stacking beer. Jen gets laid out onto the register's conveyor belt, and begins giggling. Great, a store porno...a storeno? When our Peeping Tom moves up for a closer look, the killer watches HIM from behind the beer bottles. Geez, can't any of these jerkwads SEE each other? It's a store, not a Brazilian rainforest!
The movie switches briefly to the doofus from earlier, still stacking cereal. Fun. Interesting. We also watch Sam Raimi in the deli department(I guess), working on packaging food for a display case. As he works, he sometimes takes an olive or two out of an open jar next to him. Compelling stuff. We get to see that one olive is actually a human eye. THIS is why I never eat olives! Anyway, Ted Raimi is cutting up the watermelon from earlier as well, and he is still doing so in the dorkiest way possible. He takes these massive, over-the-shoulder swings, and brings his knife down in a huge arc. Conan the Delicatessenarian! His last silly swing leads to the killer planting a knife deep into his skull, severing his Walkman's headphones and the sides of his head. The punchline to the scene is a sign nearby warning employees to use caution when handling the sharp knives. Ha. Ha. Ha.
The doofus stacking cereal and detergent is next on the deathlist. He's working at a brisk pace, stacking away, but one product keeps falling onto the floor every time he places it on the shelf. He yells at another employee, whose face is only seen partially by blocked products. When the face asks his for a box-cutter, doofus tosses it over the shelf.
The killer, who now has a nifty blade, goes after the OTHER Raimi, by tossing a ladder at him. Oooooh, scary! Or it would be, if anything happened. Moving right along, we find a dude in the beer cooler. He sees the frezer door opening and closing, and starts yelling about how he's the only one not screwing around. The killer pops up and stabs him in the stomach. Now who's screwed?
The stoner dude is now being stalked by the killer. He starts to follow the killer, but winds up in the beer cooler. He sees beer guy standing behind a stack of cases, and assumes he's just depressed or wasted. He starts mocking the corpse, until the killer's arm shoots toward him and pulls him into the cooler. Not dead yet, he is dragged by the killer to a hydraulic compactor, and his head is crushed as he screams bloody murder. Of course, no one hears him. Do any of these guys even have names?
Sam Raimi is next. His character has been listlessly moping about, stamping price labels onto various shelved products, so he's pretty bored. I guess murdering a watermelon was the highlight of his night. He goes back into the butcher shop area(popular hangout, huh?), and finds a severed hand wrapped into one of the meat packages. Before he can react, the killer grabs him from behind and pushes his head into a hanging hook. He leaves him there dangling, as a pool of blood spills out from under the freezer door.
The guy who earlier handed over his box-cutter demands it back, and the killer throws it over the shelf toward him. The blade slices the guy's palm pretty badly, but when he gets angry, there's no response. He walks over to the other side of the aisle, only to find a deli slicer operating, but no signs of any workers. He uses materials found in the deli to wrap up his hand wound, then goes to the employee bathroom, wondering out loud where the heck everybody is. He spots a pair of feet in one of the stalls, and opens the stall door, only to find the shoes contain severed stumps. Does he freak out? Nope. He says they're pig hooves stuffed in the shoes. Uh, sure. Why would that freak you out any less???
He leaves the bathroom, and decides to visit the world's most crowded meatlocker. Instead of entering though, he spots a ladder, and climbs it through a small door in the ceiling. A severed head rolls toward him, but it's a Halloween mask prop, there are several more up there as well. As he climbs fully into the room, the boss pops up, short one eye. The boss claws at him, but he gets away, and finds the small window used to watch the store activity. As he stands there, helpless to do anything, he sees Craig making his way down an aisle, as Jen concentrates of her register. He tries to warn her that Craig is there, but he can't be heard through the glass.
Captain Doofus goes into action! He starts climbing back down the ladder, despite the boss begging him for help. The blood all over the boss's hands gets on the ladder, and Doofus slips and falls the rest of the way. As he tries to get up off the floor, the killer whacks him with a meat cleaver, before dragging him toward a table saw to finish him off. So much for our "hero".
Jen finally notices that everybody has vanished. Smart cookie that she is, Jen begins strolling past each aisle, calling out names. She wanders into the back area, and steps on an eyeball. Ow! She finds "Randy" hanging off of a meat hook, and runs away to hide behind the stacks of other hanging cow corpses. Jen thinks she sees one of the sides of beef moving, and runs away screaming. She tries to lock herself into the freezer, but the killer's hand gets in the way. She uses a small hook to wound his hand, then drags Sam Raimi's corpse over to prop in front of the door.
Jen then jogs upstairs to the office, but sees the blood leaking under the doorframe, and backs away to seek some other form of help or escape. She falls down a chute, immediately finding 2 more corpses, then Ted Raimi's corpse when she attempts to climb a conveyor belt to get away. The rear entrance isn't much help either, as it's locked tight. She runs through the store again, being pretty much useless.
At this point, a car shows up. When a customer finds the doors locked, he gets back in the car. Jen pounds on the door as the car pulls away, then sees Craig in the door's reflected glass. Failing to understand how reflections work, she backs away from the door, and right into his arms. Thinking he's the killer, she injures him. And, because it worked so well the first time, she resumes walking backwards. Craig wakes up, but no one notices yet.
She hears a loud noise, and yells for help. The assistant manager, Bill, shows up. He hears her story of murder and mayhem, and assures her that she is safe now, even giving her a hug. As Bill is supposedly calling the cops, Jen leans against her register and looks back at Craig nervously. While looking around, she realizes that there is blood on her, and it's on her hands, her clothes, everything. Too late, she figures out that Bill was the murderer, not Craig. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN
He chases her a bit, and when she's cornered, she begs him to tell her why he did it. Great, it turns into an episode of "Murder, She Wrote" now. Turns out that Bill was angry at his brother over the closing of the store. He realized after murdering his brother that he'd be found out if he left the workers alive, so he decided to murder everyone and pin the blame on Craig. Before he can make good on his promise to finish her off, Jen whacks him over the head with a bottle and makes a run for it.
Desperate for a hiding place, Jen finds a popcorn display that opens up, and climbs in, closing it behind her. She left a convenient trail of broken glass and litter behind her, though, so she's nice enough to help the guy do his job faster. Sweet! He actually ends up standing next to the popcorn display, and sees the blood spreading across the floor. Grinning, he begins hacking away at the wooden case, and she screams. Somehow she manages to escape, and she grabs two big, sharp butcher knives to defend herself with. She should just poke him in the eyes with her late 1980's teased hair, it probably has the consistency of porcupine spikes.
So, there they are, playing the lamest cat-and-mouse game EVER(seriously...at one point, the excitement consists of him putting a box of cereal back on a shelf...OOOH!!), when he pulls the same scare on her that we've seen about 12 times in this film already: the old "reaching through the shelf of boxes to grab you" gag. He pulls Jen off her feet by her hair, and she knocks him out with a jar of wheat germ. See, I always knew that crap was bad for your health. It causes headaches and unconsciousness.
Jen picks up the knife(again? what, is this like the slasher version of Groundhog Day?) and dashes for the front doors again. Remembering that they're locked, she swings a fire extinguisher or a helium tank at the plexiglass. Nothing, not even a dent. This leads to my single biggest laugh of the movie: Jen leans against the locked door in frustration, and a delivery guy strolls right up. When he sees the doors locked, he knocks to get her attention, and Bill kills him with several stabs in the back. Now, I may not be a rocket scientist, but wouldn't the delivery guy notice another guy waiting near the door, especially if he was brandishing a knife and covered in blood?
Oh, and get this: Jen is still hovering around by the blood-stained front door, and hears someone behind her in the store. What would you think she'd do in that sort of situation? She screams, "Who's there? WHO'S THERE???" like the nincompoop that she apparently is. Bravo. I mean, who did she THINK it was, considering how many dead bodies she's seen?
In typical dumbass fashion, Jen holds the knife out in front of herself, and decides it's a nice night to stroll through the empty market. She finds the manager again, who supposedly was strong enough to drag himself along the floor out into the main store. She rushes over to try and help him to his feet, when it's revealed that it's just his severed head! Remember the weird story Bill told them all earlier? The one about the severed head and the guy eating the sandwich? Well, he decided to act it out for Jen. In another movie, it probably would've been cool to see.
Jen decides to start running away again. She runs past the same shelf of groceries about 170 times in a row, a montage that truly has to be seen to be believed. At the end of the Endless Aisle, she is grabbed by...Craig! Wow, a somewhat decent surprise, I had nearly forgotten he even existed. Craig covers her mouth to keep her from screaming, and explains to her what we already knew: How Bill was the killer, his plot to knock out Craig and frame him for the murders, etc. Right before Bill finds them, Craig tells Jen that he managed to get a window in the bathroom open, and that the window will be their escape route.
Alas, Craig does get knocked out(a pretty funny sequence, actually: Bill uses the severed head to keep hitting him with), which sets Jen off on a marathon again. She finds the window that Craig mentioned, but has trouble getting it to stay open. Eventually it does open, and she tries to climb out as fast as her acid-washed jeans can carry her.(okay, they're not really, but this movie is so full of '80's crap, they should be acid-washed.) She finds the right car, opens the locked door with her keys, and her friend, Linda(I guess that's who it is, anyway) falls out of the car, long-dead. She screams some more and Bill grabs her ankles and drags her under the car.
As he hovers over her on the ground, he raises his cleaver to finish her off. That's when Jen takes her hands out from under the car, to reveal her trusty butcher knife. She tells him to suck on it, and plunges it deep into his chest. In another amusing twist, he falls backwards and the knife flies out of him. As he lands on the ground, the knife comes back down and gets imbedded in a box right next to his head. She leaves his body to rush to a nearby phonebooth to call for help. I'll bet you can't guess what happens next...
Yup, you guessed it.
Bill attacks the booth, trapping her inside. When he realizes he can't get to Jen, Bill decides to try to tip the phonebooth over instead. While Bill is climbing through broken glass and Jen is attempting to crawl out of the side of the booth, Craig wakes up and goes after him with a cleaver. He even imbeds it into Bill's hand at one point, before hacking away at his arm, neck, shoulder...I'm guessing they won't be "friending" each other on Facebook any time soon.
As they survey all the damage, the cops arrive. One is Bruce Campbell(FINALLY!!!), the other is just some dude who gets to be in a scene with Bruce Campbell. The cops see Craig and Jen covered in blood, and immediately slap the cuffs on 'em. In the background you can clearly see Bill moving slightly, and he manages to gasp that they're responsible for the massacre inside the store. Bruce goes inside to check it out, and Bill appears to die, until Bruce returns to report to the other cop that "it's a bloodbath" inside. Bill's eyes snap open again, Jen shrieks, cut to credits.
Ay yi yi. I honestly remembered this being better than it turned out to be. Maybe I saw some uncut version, or maybe my memory just sucks waaaay more than I realized, because this was pretty disappointing. As tedious as I find most remakes(especially with the trend toward PG-13 crap like Prom Night and When A Stranger Calls), I really do think a great slasher flick could be done in a supermarket. Or, heck, why not a superstore, like a Wal-Mart or a Sam's Club? Someone get right on that, okay? 2 killer trees, only for the general mayhem towards the end and the 3"guest stars".
So what has Intruder left me with, besides the sour taste in my mouth?
-I now realize that stuff that seemed epic when I was younger may have been seen through rose-colored glasses. Geez, this one must've been seen in a friggin' Rose Bowl Parade for me to think it was cool.
-When a director can't deliver a clever script or great, copious amounts of gore, he will use gimmicky, silly camera tricks instead.(My personal favorite was seeing a character from the perspective of a rotary phone, complete with the image spinning while the number was dialed, lol)
-Sandwiches always taste better when mixed with severed heads.
Up next, I'm going to start going through more of my Instant Watch queue, so I'll probably begin with the Friday the 13th franchise. My overall queue is at the 500-movie limit, so I realllllly need to start watching and eliminating some of them. Oh, and I'm going to be seeing Devil this weekend, so I may just make that my next one if it's slashery at all. Looks like it might be, but with M. Night Shamalamadingdong, ya never know...