Friday, December 16, 2011

INTRUDER (1989) - a gory supermarket slasher with the overlooked Renee Estevez and a bevy of inexplicable stylistic flourishes

It looks like Walnut Lake Supermarket is about to close. Quite a shame. They seem to stock all sorts of exotic cereals I have never heard of, particularly “Crazy Cow” cereal. Pouring milk on a group of little edible cows seems tasty at first glance, and gleefully perverse after a moments reflection. A customer appears to be just as intrigued as I am, and throws a box of Crazy Cow in his cart, complete with a shopping cart POV shot.

This POV shot is the first of many shots from the point of view of inanimate objects. I’m not shitting you. A doorknob, a bottle of cognac, a mop bucket, a trash can, etc. I suppose our director Scott Spiegel wanted the audience to empathize with everyday items you might find in a supermarket, you know, say, to walk in a TV dinner's shoes. This sets Intruder apart from other slashers of its ilk, who normally only show POV shots that originate from actual eyeballs. I guess by 1988, the standard in slasher movies was to subvert previously cemented clich├ęs, even if it led the results to be totally nonsensical.

We are introduced to the various employees of the market, including our heroine Jennifer, Renee Estevez (the sister of Charlie and Emilio), the manager, and Sam and Ted Raimi as the weirdo butcher and produce guy, respectively. There is also a mulleted schmoe in a leather jacket who apparently broke up with Jennifer and decides to annoy everyone as revenge (like, say, the audience). Before they clean up the store after closing, the manager lets everyone know they will no longer have lucrative employment with Walnut Lake Supermarket. They are probably selling it to some huge conglomerate like “Acme Global Chemical and Groceries”. This gives everyone a potential motive for murder right before locking them in in tight quarters. Sweet.

Well, the cops show up to “investigate” the creepy ex-boyfriend. They spout off the typical "don't hesitate to call if he’s physically stabbing you, otherwise there’s nothing we can do" speech. This sets the stage for everyone to get processed into cold cuts, one by one. Especially inventive is the "severed hand in the lobster tank" gag, a cousin to the more popular "severed head in the fish tank” gag. The film relies on the very well done, but clinical gore effects (cut out on the VHS, but since reinstated on DVD). They're there mainly to show off, just like the nutty POV shots and other stylistic flourishes, rather than relished for their own horrific sake. I suppose by this point, the director was more interested in what he could do to stand out from a tired genre and jump start his own career.

Here's a "head in the fish tank" gag from He Knows You're Alone, among other "severed head in a water receptacle" gags, like the "severed head in an aquarium" gag in Night School, and the "severed head in a toilet gag" from House on Sorority Row.


Our final girl, Jennifer, puts up quite a fight with the killer during the final showdown, including smashing a bottle of Wheat Germ over his head. Luckily, help finally comes in the form of the piggy patrol, played by Bruce Campbell and Tarantino’s eventual producer, Lawrence Bender. In a proper porkboy move, they arrest Jennifer and the now innocent ex-boyfriend, as the real killer insists they are to blame for the homicidal mess in the store. The camera then zooms into Jennifer’s mouth, which very well could be a POV shot of the cop’s nightstick being jammed down her throat. Who can say exactly.

P.S. Our good friends over at Synapse films has recently saw fit to release the movie on blu-ray. God bless them. I haven't seen the blu-ray because I lack funding, so I will have to live with my old DVD.


  1. Should I seek this one out? Because I loves me some Renee Estevez (Heathers/Sleepaway Camp 2), and inexplicable stylistic flourishes are what make life worth living. Oh, and just reading about POV shots from the perspective of inanimate objects causes the butter churn in my mind to churn even louder.

  2. @Yummage
    Apart from that and the gore, the movie doesn't have a whole lot (suspense or crazy hair), so I don't know that it would really churn your butter. I don't think you'd be bored though.