At this supermarket, an announcement is heard over the Tannoy, to tell the shoppers there are only fifteen minutes left before the store closes, so they should hurry along to the checkouts with their purchases. One of the checkout girls is Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox), who is gossiping with her colleague Linda (Renée Estevez) as she sees to the final customers of the day, but then gets a nasty surprise when the last man to walk up to her is her ex-boyfriend Craig (David Byrnes), who had been observing her outside. The thing is, she made it pretty clear she wasn't interested anymore, but he will not take no for an answer, and an ugly scuffle ensues - how far will Craig go? Is he dangerous?
The slasher cycle of the nineteen-eighties had pretty much played itself out by 1989, as its place in the fear flick halls of fame had by this stage been replaced by a different kind of psycho killer, usually one wearing high heels. But the old (OK, not that old) style sputtered on, and there remained low budget efforts trying to keep the bloodthirsty maniac flag flying, of which Intruder was one. It gathered a following for two reasons, one, the curious variety of names attached to it, in front of and behind the camera, and second, the innovation of the KNB gore effects which proved the main draw when the gorehounds were offered something to respond to. So this was fun, right?
Well, only up to a point as while the makeup effects were assuredly innovative on its meagre means - most of the budget looked to have gone on hiring the supermarket (not a set) for middle of the night shooting - the rest of it merely demonstrated why the only slasher movies making money by then were the tried and true franchises, for Intruder played out in a curiously flavourless fashion for a film that was supposed to be one of the brightest stars in the genre's firmament. For a start, it seemed to take ages to get anywhere, its first kill well into the opening half hour which could leave the less patient horror fan wondering when the excitement was going to commence, if at all.
It sort of did, but we were not given much of a reason to care about the hapless Jennifer as written, for she was beyond generic and Cox could have been replaced with a cardboard cut-out without much of a difference to how the plot played out. Director Scott Spiegel had based this on one of his umpteen amateur shorts, and he and the Raimis, two of whom appeared here, had struck gold with their Evil Dead franchise, a matter that should have raised hopes for the quality here, but aside from the occasional wacky camera angle he did not exactly fill the proceedings with a manic energy. Even by the time Jennifer had begun running around, a lot of the murders had been seen and were over and done, still more showing us the aftermath rather than the novelty violence itself, with scattered quips.
That cast was something different, though, with Cox a briefly promising horror starlet of the mid-to-late eighties mingling with Martin Sheen's daughter, for whom fame did not strike as big as her two brothers, Sam Raimi in an acting rather than directing role, Ted Raimi in an acting rather than writing role, Emil Sitka, a Three Stooges regular for those connections to the creators' boyhood favourites, Alvy Moore, a one time character actor who helmed a few cult genre works in the seventies, the inevitable Bruce Campbell, though only very fleetingly as a cop at the finale, and so forth. Really, unless you had an interest in the talent onscreen there was little to keep you absorbed in Intruder unless you could be bothered sticking with it for the murders, as Spiegel certainly had some ability in staging them to their best effect. This was not a bad movie, it was simply that it was average rather than electrifying, as its reputation among some fans would have you believe. Music by Basil Poledouris (another name to conjure with).