Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Intruder (1989): Instant Circumcision


1989's Intruder is a somewhat under-known Slasher film that indirectly had a major impact on horror cinema (and the genre in general) at the time it was released. To ensure an R rating, Intruder was unleashed on home video with a whopping five minutes of footage cut from the film, something of which was done without director Scott Spiegel's knowledge. All of the footage removed from the film consisted of incredibly graphic gore effects done by KNB, essentially leaving Intruder a shell of a film; a Slasher with no slash, if you will. This was an era when Horror VS the MPAA was a major battle, and censorship of the genre in general was at its worst.

Intruder would make another censorship splash with its gory set pieces, but this time in a much different way and certainly in a fashion that would be much bigger than the film ever was. [The real] Goerzone magazine came out with their March issue (issue number 6, to be exact), and what would follow would greatly hinder the presence that both Gorezone and parent magazine, Fangoria, would have on store shelves. Issue 6 featured a publicity shot from Intruder; a shot that came from the film's best and goriest death scene: a man's face cut in half with a meat cutter. To say it is one of the raddest cover's of a genre magazine ever is an understatement, but parents and ultraconservative do-gooders certainly didn't feel the same way when they saw this face looking them in the face at convenience stores:


Numerous complaints quickly resulted in Gorezone being banned from the shelves of all Circle K stores, and with the chain being the second biggest convenience store in the country at the time, this meant a circulation drop of several thousand copies for the magazine. Gorezone editor Tony Timpone was told by the publisher that the future covers needed to be less violent, and if they were to be violent, they should involve monsters and creatures, not humans. It's like the old adage that when a horror film's blood is green or black you can get away with murder, as opposed to if it were actually red. We all know that red blood equals real, and it's the realism that frightens and harms our children, turning them into the future serial killers of America. Thankfully censorship and fear mongering keeps all of this from coming to fruition.

At the time this was all happening, I was the spry age of twelve and read about all the controversy through the pages of Goerzone and Fango. I was young, and I yearned for the gruesome stuff, as at that ripe age during that period in horror, it was all about the gore. I had to see Intruder, and I cannot recall exactly how long it was before I finally did see it (though it wasn't too long afterwards), but even if the film was hacked to bits, I still thought it would be worth the time and there would have to be some trace of gore in the film. Well, as it turned out, there was hardly a gut to be seen, and when I did watch the movie, I was gravely disappointed in it.

At the time I didn't notice the cheesiness of most films, so that wasn't a factor, but I did find it to be somewhat boring, and the lack of great kills are exactly what would hurt this film for me. All that lead up only to have nothing more than a bad edit happen isn't any way to see any film. Sometime after seeing the edited version, I somehow came across the directors cut, but to be totally honest, I have no idea how that happened as coming across shit at a pretty young age in the tape trading days wasn't all too easy. Regardless, I watched the full Monty version of Intruder, and I certainly enjoyed it so much more than when I saw it sans the awesome death scenes. The film suddenly lived up to what was promised and more, and it was those five minutes of graphic slashing and slaying that made the film one that is worth a spot on any Slasher fan's list of must sees.

I will always have a strong sense of nostalgia for Intruder with what it represented for horror at the time. It certainly had a slight influence on the rebel that I would grow to become as the years went on. The censorship of Intruder and that specific issue of Gorezone are greatly reflective of that time period, and while it seems like these aren't issues that we need to worry about as much nowadays, something like what happened with Hatchet 2 comes along and reminds us that we will never get what we want when it comes to entertainment. There will always be someone there trying to tell us what we should and shouldn't watch, and it's our job to tell them to go fuck themselves and do it anyways.

Power to the people.


  1. I always forget how much the Raimi's all look alike, lol
    I love how Intruder uses great humor in the horror.
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum

  2. It's funny - I've still never watched Intruder but I'll always have a soft spot for it thanks to that Gorezone cover! I just went through my GZ collection and it's a kick to see those amazing covers again. Intruder is definitely the best of the bunch but the Fred Gwyne Pet Semetery cover is pretty bad-ass, too.

  3. Petunia: There are some very humorous elements to it, which is part of its charm. And it is crazy seeing Sam Raimi in it with how much of a Hollywood powerhouse he would become!

    Stoner: Yeah, I have always been a firm believer in the if you don't like it, turn it off approach to entertainment.

    People have this notion that their children are so fragile that a video game, a comic book, a movie or whatever, will corrupt them. They'll be what they'll be no matter where the influence comes from.

    Jeff: I went through a few issues to try and refresh my memory of these events, and in the issue where the whole Intruder thing is brought up, Timpone also mentions that Pet Sematary cover.

    That was the issue where the top of the mag had a tag line that said something like "America's bloodiest horror magazine!" and the publisher changed that to "America's #1 horror magazine!" unbeknownst to any of the Gorezone staff.

    It's crazy how well I remember all of that stuff, but I did read those fucking things over and over again! Going through them for this was pretty awesome, and I would love to just sit down and read a bunch of them sometime.

  4. I still say Intruder is one of the best late-80s slashers! I wonder if Full Moon's shitastic DVD release that I own is unrated... Going to check now.


    Well, Full Moon wins over Netflix this round!

  5. Yeah, the DVD release that came out most recently (which is the only US DVD release, I believe) is unrated. I have heard the transfer is crap, but I can overlook that so long as the gore is there!

  6. Great stuff Matt. It remains a shame. Mediocre film on Netflix, and now you have me curious to actually seek out the uncut version!

  7. Thanks, Emily! It is fun for a little while, but it runs out of steam so fast. The gore really makes the movie a much better film, or at least it makes it the Slasher it was meant to be. I would recommend seeing it at least once uncensored.


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