by: Dr. Boogie
Normally when the subject of retail horror stories come up, one conjures images of demanding customers screaming about not being able to return things without a receipt, or having to clean a bathroom where some very sick individual has hit everywhere except the toilet. But what if, instead of the nightmare of having a shitty job, you had murders occurring in a grocery store? Doesn't that sound like it would be scary, having a killer stalking down the brightly-lit aisles, undoubtedly with a few shots of somebody taking something off the shelf and oh no, the killer's face!
Maybe they could work in some gruesome grocery store puns like, "cleanup on die-sle five!" or "manager to checkout stand 3, manager to checkout stand 3, MURDER!!!"
I can understand if some of you aren't entirely on board with the idea.
Intruder starts out on some pretty shaky ground for a 1989 horror movie: The posters and DVD covers let you know that the movie stars Evil Dead alumni Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, and Bruce Campbell. Only it doesn't. The Raimi brothers play characters so minor that they were one or two cuts away from having no lines in the movie, and Bruce... well, more on him later. Much, much later. Also given top billing is Renee Estevez, and I'm sorry to all the Renee Estevez fans who were excited to see her first major coverage on I-Mockery, but she's not in a starring role either.
Then there's the problem with the poster actually revealing the identity of the movie's killer! I'm not going to suggest that this is the kind of movie where everything leads up to a breathtaking reveal, but maybe don't just have your murderer on the cover when a central point in your narrative is trying to figure out who keeps killing all your dumb coeds.
But that's why we're all here, right? To see these meatbags get their faces pushed in and their guts pulled out. They have names and relationships and all the other stuff they teach you about in screenwriting class, but it's all rendered so very, very pointless when all you really want to see is them doing dumb things and getting killed in some entertaining way. To wit, let's start the intruding:
This shot of the moon accompanies what I truly believe to be a roll call of every goddamn person who had the slightest involvement with this movie. Cast, crew, caterers, local politicians, babies born during the production, people who were filmed by accident when the camera was pointed at a window, and then they just start listing everyone who ever lived in the town where they filmed this. It's a long credits sequence, are you getting that?
Eventually, the actual movie starts.
Cashiers Jen and Linda are checking out the last customers before closing. Jen pops out to the parking lot to round up the shopping carts where she's observed by a scary Kenny Loggins-looking guy:
How were people able to identify tough guys before leather jackets were invented?
That's Jen's ex-boyfriend Craig. Craig is a bit possessive, as he goes to harass Jen in the store, asking why she broke up with him. She calls him crazy, and he pops her one, so maybe being a violent psychopath has something to do with it?
Linda presses the silent alarm, drawing the attention of the rest of the night crew. This leads to a badly-choreographed fight sequence:
After besting nearly everyone in the store, Craig winds up staring down one angry group of bruised storehands. He uses a tactic straight out of Sun Tzu's Art of War:
Draw your enemies' attention by throwing a famous director at them. The gambit works, and Craig escapes while everyone swarms Sam Raimi for autographs and pictures.
The group spreads out to find Craig. Okay, not really. Really, they spread out to show you all the different areas of the store so your mind can imagine the kinds of horror you'll be seeing in the next 90 minutes or so: the meat locker, the dark corridors, the manager's office, the... attic, and even some kind of fun grocery slide.
Hey look, it's the other Raimi brother. Joe (Ted) works in produce, hence his character name "Produce Joe". He also wears a Walkman headset for most of his scenes, but "I Can't Hear You Joe" seems a little too on-the-nose.
Hey, how about some hijinks?
Look, shelf reaching! Classic store horror, or "Storror" as it's called in show biz. Ha ha, good times. Hey guys, remember how there's a violent psycho who beat all your asses like two minutes ago? You want to maybe get serious about looking for him?
Here's how you know they're not taking the search seriously:
Craig manages to circle around all of them, passing through the most well-lit part of the store as he does so, and makes it all the way to the front of the store to menace Jen some more. The crew lets him get a few solid threats in before they finally grab him. Just when it looks like another terrible fight is going to break out, they band together and toss him out the front door.
And what could safer than letting a dangerous lunatic out where you can't keep track of him? Heck, why not ask Jen to walk herself home while you're at it?
Everyone quickly gets over this traumatic episode as store owner Danny calls a meeting. He and co-owner Bill have decided to sell the store, and so everyone will need to look for a new job. Spoiler alert: most of them don't need to look for a new job.
Later, Craig starts calling Jen to harass her some more. Should they be worried that they had a chance to nab him and hold him for the cops? Should they be worried that there's a phone booth behind the store? Should they be worried that he's standing in front of the large glass door, just staring?
Jen, what's that behind you!?
Oh, it's just Sting. I forgot how popular those German language music magazines were in the 80s. And also, according to one headline, a story about female ejaculation. What a very odd grocery store.
Back to the movie, Jen regales Linda with a story about how Craig just recently got out of prison. What was he in for? Oh nothing, just beating a guy to death in a fight. "It was an accident, I guess," Jen sighs. That's a relief, Jen. I thought for a minute that this guy might be unbalanced.
Suddenly, the phone rings again.
Why is this shot in the movie? Why would we ever need to see things from the rotary phone's perspective? I wish I could have been in the prop department when the director came in and said he wanted a rotary phone cutout to put over the camera. I'm especially glad that this shot was used for a pointless conversation between Linda and some character we will never meet.
Elsewhere, Jen is cleaning the aisles when she comes across a note that Craig scrawled on one of the price tags. Add that to the list of incredible things Craig did while evading capture in the store.
And hey, you loved phone cam so much, how about...
WHY!? Why shoot her from inside the damn floor? Was there a great demand for blurry shots of garbage? Can we expect a shot of Jen from inside the cash register next? How about a thrilling shot from the perspective of one of the shelves?
Oh fuck you, movie.
Stoner Bub gives Linda some more Craig-based exposition, this time about how he turned into kind of a bad dude after getting into drugs. Worse yet, he tried to kill Bub and would have succeeded were it not for the timely intervention of his cousin with a blender. Great story, but I think they're laying it on a little thick as far as making Craig out to be a bad guy.
In the break room, Bill tells a story from when he was a volunteer firefighter: his crew were called out of lunch to the scene of a gruesome crash that resulted in a decapitation. With no head in sight, they spread out to look. As they're looking, his buddy Parker comes walking down the road swinging the missing head by the hair and eating his hamburger with the other. It's not quite "black eyes like a doll's eyes", but it'll do for Bill.
Any further stories of missing body parts have to be put on hold as the police finally arrive. They show the least amount of interest I've ever seen movie cops show in their story of how there's a dangerous ex-con stalking/assaulting one of their cashiers. They bumble around for a few minutes before leaving a business card with Bill and taking off. And everyone has a good chuckle, oh what fun.
In fact, they are so at ease that they decide it's safe for Linda to go outside by herself. And guess what: it goes exactly as well as you'd expect!
Love the editing here.
It seemed like Linda wasn't alarmed when she saw the killer (until he grabbed her by the neck and pulled out a knife of course). I wonder if that's indicative of anything...
Back in the manager's office, Danny explains to Bill that the store has been losing money for the past two years. Two years! And Bill still isn't crazy about selling the place. In the course of their discussing, a framed photo of the two of them falls off the wall and breaks. Danny throws it away, which I only mention because...
Where can't you put a camera these days?
Bill goes off to keep an eye on the store when he hears a noise outside. He grabs a hammer and goes to investigate. Instead of having his head playfully turned into a watermelon, he finds Craig and another fight scene full of limp punches ensues. Bill fumbles the hammer almost immediately, but Craig recovers it.
Aha, get it? He dropped like a sack of potatoes! Genius!
So we're a little over half an hour in at this point, but don't worry: it's finally time to start the real movie.
Somebody sneaks up behind Danny and starts choking him. Rather than fight back, he reaches for the PA mic and calls for help, but all the assembled losers hear is a bunch of feedback.
Choking someone to death, that's pretty boring. On the other hand, there is a big bill spike on Danny's desk. Under normal circumstances, Danny might have just swatted the spike off his desk to avoid impalement, but I think his character subconsciously knows how much nothing we've had to sit through as an audience.
It was worth the wait: An impaled head, blood going through his calculator, and blood falling on his lamp to light the scene. Amazing.
There's still plenty more of Intruder to see!
Click here to continue onward to page 2!
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