Slashers are my favorite horror subgenre. I just love them to death. They’re my pizza of the horror world. A bad slasher is still a slasher and most of the time that’s good enough for me. Like most other slasher fans, my favorite era of this bloody subgenre was the 80’s. In the 80’s we had more practical effects, more sleaze and more fun! Scott Spiegel got in just under that 80’s wire in 1989 when he released Intruder, one of my absolute favorites and one of the more underrated slashers (in my opinion).
The night crew at a small supermarket just closed the store for the night and are in the process of re-stocking the shelves to get the store ready for the follow day. As the employees are hard at work they get a visit from Craig (David Byrnes), the ex-boyfriend of cashier Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox). Craig recently got out of prison and he’s not happy about the way his relationship with Jennifer ended. He says he just wants to talk about Jennifer doesn’t want anything to do with him and he’s quick to anger. Craig refuses to leave and eventually gets into a fight with some of the guys at the store who are able to force him out.
With Craig out of the picture the employees get back to work, but it isn’t long before Craig returns and they think he’s in the store. The employees gather together and decide to search the store for Craig, but while still maintain to do their work. One-by-one store employees start getting picked off. Clearly Craig is responsible, right? Maybe.
There’s a lot to really enjoy with Intruder. It hits on most of the typical slasher tropes with the exception of nudity, but does so with a more fun-loving attitude. While it’s not a parody like Slumber Party Massacre, it is very similar in tone. I think it has something to do with the dialogue, which is silly but never manages to get too silly. It’s like that dialogue that makes you think, “I don’t think people ever talked this way, but maybe, just maybe a few people did.” It’s hard to explain, but it toes a fine line and does it just right.
The first time I saw Intruder was actually on Netflix a number of years back. I would have passed over it because the title is kind of generic (originally the film was titled The Night Crew – a better title IMO) but what caught my eye is that the film is promoted as starring Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi. I love Campbell and Raimi so why wouldn’t I watch this? Turns out that was a bit of false advertising. Campbell has a very small cameo at the end of the film as a cop (alongside Lawrence Bender) and Raimi, while having a much bigger role, is still just a supporting player. Those misleads aside, I still really enjoyed my first experience with Intruder. It was a fun, quick slasher with a genuine mystery playing throughout.
What I didn’t know at the time is that Netflix was streaming an edited version of the film, missing a whole 5 minutes. The 5 minutes contained the majority of the special makeup effects from KNB. A few years after watching the film on Netflix I picked up the Synapse Blu-ray release and my eyes were opened. The Synapse Blu-ray is the unrated director’s cut with the all the gory goodness fully intact. I went from really liking Intruder to absolutely loving it. And why wouldn’t I? The gore present in the uncut version of Intruder is something to behold!
That Synapse Blu-ray is absolutely perfect. It looks gorgeous and has a ton of fantastic features. It’s one of those Blu-rays that you watch and you say to yourself, “Yep, this is the definitive release. This movie will never get a better treatment.” And that’s exactly what I thought, but then I watched the region B release from 88 Films and I think we have a new champion.
Earlier this year 88 Films released Intruder as part of their slasher collection, the 23rd entry, meaning it comes in a nifty red slimcase. My expectation was that this release would basically be the same transfer but have a few special features different than the what’s available on the Synapse version. As I’ve said in past reviews I’m not PQ expert. I’m not super nitpicky, I know what I like and what I don’t like. If something looks particularly bad, I can tell. The super small things I won’t pick up or just won’t be bothered as much.
After watching the 88 Films release and being blown away I decided to pop in the Synapse Blu to try and compare the two. To my eye the 88 Films version looks better. The blacks are darker, colors pop more and the detail is just more defined. I’m not one to grab screenshots and all that jazz for comparison purposes but I will happy direct you over to Rock! Shock! Pop! and their review from Ian Jane. There you can find some screenshots that compare both releases. Both are very good, but for my money 88 Films is just a hair better.
In terms of special features Synapse does have more to offer, but 88 Films at least brings new things to the table. The new features include an interview with Spiegel by Calum Waddell – this is a written interview included in the booklet notes, a brand new commentary with Spiegel moderated by Waddell and documentary from Waddell called Slice & Dice: The Slasher Film Forever – The Complete History of Mad Maniac Movies. The interview and commentary are great, but that doc is where it’s at. It’s a wonderful overview on slashers with a slew of great interviews. I’d buy that doc as it’s own separate release.
We as horror fans are very fortunate. Intruder, a fairly small and underappreciated slasher, is available on two fantastic Blu-rays. The worst thing now when it comes to Intruder is trying to determine which version you should buy. If you only have a region A player obviously you’d go with Synapse and if you’re only region B then you’ve got 88 Films, but for those that are region free you have a decision to make. You can take the version from Synapse that delivers incredible PQ and more special features all of which are good, or you can take the 88 Films release that has the superior PQ and less special features overall but the best individual bonus feature on either release. If I was choosing just one, I’d give the edge to 88 Films. Fortunately I didn’t have to choose one and opted to get both.
Intruder is available on region A Blu-ray from Synapse and region B Blu-ray from 88 Films.