• Intruder, The



    Released by: Garagehouse Pictures
    Released on: August 1st, 2017.
    Director: Chris Robinson
    Cast: George De Vries, Buddy Desaro, Chris Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Mickey Rooney, Ted Cassidy
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    In 1975, Chris Robinson (notable for his work on quite a few soap operas and TV series as well as his leading turn in William Grefe’s Stanley in 1972) made a movie for twenty-five thousand dollars. It was bankrolled by his brother and rushed into production, but somehow managed to land a few noteworthy television stars in its quirky cast. The movie was never given proper theatrical distribution after it was finished and then the elements for the film disappeared. The film was never given a home video release, it didn’t even have an IMDB listing. That all changed in 2012 when Garagehouse Pictures’ own Harry Guerro found the only known print of the film, contacted Robinson, and put together the film’s first official release of any kind.

    The movie itself, which is a bit of a proto-slasher that plays out between a mix of Mario Bava’s Twitch Of The Death Nerve and an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, wears its low budget on its sleeve. To be fair, however, Robinson does a nice job of using what he did have available to him to conjure up a decent thriller with some quality kill scenes.

    When the story begins, a group of people have taken a boat ride to the island estate of an aged man where they find… that their host, Henry Peterson, is not there. He has left a letter for each of them in his stead. The help are around though, and so the various gets are at least able to socialize for a bit and enjoy a meal. As this happens we realize that most of these people are pretty narcissistic, the lure of a payout clearly the reason that they’re all there. One woman in particular (Yvonne De Carlo – Lily Munster herself!) has a delightfully bitchy persona sure to remind you of Joan Collins at her snippiest. All of this setup occurs as we see the the man who piloted them there on the yacht (Mickey Rooney) driving around alone on his boat… seemingly looking for someone or something and then winding up at a strange lighthouse for an unexpected meeting.

    As night falls, the story takes a darker turn. We first become aware that there’s an uninvited guest on the island when we see him appear in the window during a lightning storm – a genuinely great shot that is actually very effective and legitimately eerie. Of course, this person is a killer and shortly after said killer is introduced, the murders start occurring. As more and more of the guests wind up dead in some fairly grisly murder set pieces, those left alive (comprised of Ted Cassidy from the Addams Family, Robinson himself and a few others) try to figure out who’s behind all of this and why.

    Shot by Jack McGowan (the same cinematographer who was behind Bob Clark’s Deathdream as well as Deranged and the might King Frat!), The Intruder is a handsome looking picture. It does take a little while to get going, the pacing is a bit slow for the first third, but by the time we reach the half way point the film starts to pick up quite nicely. Lots of quirky characters in this one make it more interesting than it would have been otherwise – the cast run the gamut between a few younger, attractive players (such as Robinson and his wife) to some rather bizarre looking portly middle aged guys, one of whom doesn’t seem to be able to wear his reading glasses properly for some reason. As the story moves, the tension between the cast members obviously increases, and it’s fun to watch them turn from catty to frightened as they realize their lives are in danger. We get a pretty nice twist at the end of the movie too. The film also benefits from some great location work. Shot entirely on location in and around the Florida coast, the mansion in particular offers Robinson and company the opportunity to create some really striking shots and get some impressive camera angels nailed down to nice effect.

    The performances are reasonably good all the way around, though De Carlo is probably the stand out here, with a special mention for Ted Cassidy, still instantly identifiable as Lurch even without the makeup on. Robinson is essentially the male lead here, he’s dashing and charismatic enough to pull it off and also quite good in his part. The score, credited to Tommy Oliver, is also quite good. It accentuates both the scenes of tension and the more melodramatic moments that take place earlier in the film.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Garagehouse Pictures brings The Intruder to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer mastered in 4k from the only existing 35mm print framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Given the fact that this movie was lost for so long and that only a print was found to work off of, the transfer is surprisingly solid. Yes, there is some minor print damage and some scratches here and there and the colors don’t necessarily pop as much as you might want, but the picture is surprisingly clean and very stable. It also shows good detail, depth and texture. Presented on Blu-ray with a healthy bit rate, there are no compression artifacts to note, nor are there any obvious instances of digital tweaking like edge enhancement or overzealous noise reduction.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, with optional subtitles provided in English only. The audio is a little flat but otherwise it’s fine despite some minor hiss here and there. The dialogue is clean enough to follow without any issues, the score and effects sound pretty decent and the levels are properly balanced.

    Extras on this release start off with an audio commentary featuring writer/director/actor/producer Chris Robinson. It’s a fairly scene specific commentary in which Robinson notes all sorts of interesting bits and pieces about the making of the movie – including the fact that Rooney really is controlling the ship in the opening scene of the movie, and that he was one of the most interesting and nice actors he ever worked with. He also describes De Carlo as superb, notes how his wife at the time appeared in the movie as the heroine, the involvement of Ted Cassidy and how one of the lesser known actors was a tenth degree red belt in karate. He talks about how he got access to the historic mansion that was used in the shoot and how everything seen in the mansion was real, not a set. He also talks about the pros and cons of making films in Florida when this was made, when the vast majority of the industry was based in Hollywood, the amount of work that went into wearing so many hats that he wore in this production and on a fairly tight deadline, and how the film is basically a remake of Ten Little Indians. He gives a lot of credit to the cast and crew for helping him get this project finished, how lucky he was to have access to the ships used in the film, the cooperation of the town that the film was shot in (they had hoped it would help tourism) which allowed him access to locations like the lighthouse, some footage that was lost in the editing process (which Robinson was not involved in, though he notes in the track that he wishes he was), the after effects of certain stunt work that he did in his younger days and quite a bit more. There are a few spots where Robinson starts to narrate what we’re seeing on screen but thankfully these are fleeting (he tends to say things like ‘Oh my God, did the Intruder get him? Who will be his next victim?” during the kill scenes). For the most part this is a pretty interesting track that gives us quite a bit of background information on this never before seen picture, covering everything from the cast and crew background to what materials the bathtubs were made out of in the mansion!).

    Robinson also shows up in a video interview conducted by Daniel Griffith that was shot in 2008. They spend almost twenty-five minutes talking about various projects that Robinson was involved with over the years and how he enjoyed many aspects of the work he’s done over the years. He talks about how and when he decided he wanted to get into show business, the training and education that he got, how he got into writing and directing after trying his hand at acting previously and about how he first acted professionally in Los Angeles in his younger days. He also talks about working on some monster/horror makeup and having to play a mutated animal, getting to ‘beat up Dick Clark,’ acting alongside Alan Ladd and Burt Lancaster, and working on TV as well as film.

    Aside from that we get trailers for a few other Garagehouse Pictures releases, menus and chapter selection. On the flip side of the cover sleeve, there are some liner notes from Harry Guerro that discuss how and why the film came to be released again after all these years – interesting stuff worth reading.

    The Final Word:

    The Intruder wears its influences on its sleeve but makes up for that by infusing its storyline with a lot of interesting character and characters. It is well directed and pretty suspenseful, making great use of some fantastic locations, especially that mansion, and offering up a few moderately bloody thrills along the way. Garagehouse Pictures has rescued this quirky little thriller from genuine obscurity and offered it up in surprisingly nice shape and with some good extras too. Fans of region films and low budget thrillers, particularly those with a lot of seventies flavor, should definitely appreciate this one.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!