Directed By: Chris Robinson
“Which is better, lock us in or out?”
Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and sometimes you have to stumble across YouTube channels that collect largely undervalued horror flicks. Sometimes they’re hidden gems and sometimes they remain forgotten for a reason. Usually though, you can always find something worthwhile in them.
The Intruder is billed as a sort of proto-slasher and I guess that’s true. John Carpenter didn’t release Halloween until 1978 though Bob Clark’s fantastic Black Christmas had come two years earlier, already by this point we were pretty deep into the Giallo genre out of Italy. We had already seen The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, Deep Red and Bay Of Blood which famously went on to “inspire” Friday The 13th (Though the filmmakers deny this, there are several moments lifted directly).
Really though it owes more to something like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None as a group of people on an island get offed one by one. The reasons don’t entirely matter, except to say there’s the hunt gold and the reading of a will that has brought 11 people together. Getting people together like this is always a recipe for a fun time and The Intruder kind of delivers. It’s nice to see a slasher movie that’s devoid of teenagers for one thing although it is also largely devoid of blood, with nearly all the kills taking place off-screen.
What it does offer instead is 70s character actors mostly sitting in rooms waiting to be offed next. This isn’t hyperbole either, there is a stretch of the movie that’s just people sitting around and looking bored in what’s probably meta-commentary for watching this movie. Ok Ok, that’s a little unfair on my part. It isn’t boring per se but it is fairly uneventful. Perhaps we (or I) am just used to a quicker pace and silly teen hijinks and maybe a touch of hysteria wouldn’t go amiss. As it is, everyone takes the group being killed off in their stride. Oddly, it also informs us how many days in we are and at what time, as though we were watching Zodiac or something.
The greatest moment, however, comes at exactly the one hour mark, where the music kicks in and we’re treated to a prolonged display of white guy Karate. I have no explanation to this (Particularly as one of the participants is the guy who played Bluto in Robert Altman’s Popeye) other than…well no, I genuinely have no explanation for it. Hilariously, the display also ends in the impalement of both (innocent) men who had taken their karate battle to a barn roof. It totals up to about 3 minutes of screentime all told, but I would be surprised if I see a more entertaining 3 minutes this month.
Alas, that’s the sole highlight of The Intruder which isn’t really scary or interesting. It also introduces the cardinal sin of introducing the killer before the end without ever really explaining who he is (I did have to double-check that he wasn’t the XL pornstar John Holmes) or really giving hints as to who it might be throughout the movie. I guess it’s only really a problem because the movie signals that it’s all vaguely supernatural but seemingly can’t make up its mind until the very end with the most eye-rolling ‘twist’ ever (The killer had a secret twin brother all along!).
So, all in all not a great way to spend an hour and twenty-six minutes. But man, three of those were glorious.