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STUDIO: Buena Vista Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
• “Remembering the Intruder” All-New Featurette with Roger Corman and William Shatner
“Captain Kirk burns Mississippi.”
William Shatner, Frank Maxwell, Beverly Lunsford, Robert Emhardt, Leo Gordon, Charles Barnes, Charles Beaumont, Katherine Smith, George Clayton Johnson and Jeanne Cooper
William Shatner met Roger Corman about six years before he started working on the original Star Trek. Corman sold him on a script based on a Charles Beaumont novel about a Washington, D.C. aggressor who was going around and stirring up trouble in the American Southeast. The problem with this serious film is that it flopped. No one wanted to go out and see a heavy picture about race relations from the man who did The Little Shop of Horrors.
This is what they used to back before cable. They roved the streets in gangs of closed eyed hooligans.
The Intruder is a very tense movie even from its opening lull of Patrick Cramer’s ride into town. When he arrives in the tiny town of Caxton, he’s very friendly. The men respect him and the women love him. He shares a few tales of his time spent working as a social worker, while he enjoys their company. Then, they get talking about desegregation. The townspeople don’t like the fact that it’s not the Law and they feel like they weren’t involved in approving it.
Cramer gets them riled up about how they’re being left behind concerning decisions that impact their fair town. He gets his newfound friends to meet him outside of the Town Hall. There with the gathered white folk in town, he has a captive audience to listen to his speech. When simply getting the local citizens angered isn’t enough, Cramer turns to the Ku Klux Klan. The good ol’ boys are interested in Cramer and they decide to do the only thing they know how. The Klan heads over to the black part of town and decides to burn a few crosses.
Roger Corman ran out of cash halfway through the flick, so far the remainder of the film William Shatner was replaced with a burnt cross prop.
The tiny town of Caxton is in an uproar, as one side turns against the other. Cramer eventually becomes so popular with the people that the Law can’t pin anything on him. The local media can’t stop Cramer’s rise, even though an intrepid newspaper reporter gives it his all. Everything comes down to a local black man accused of raping a white girl. Caxton wants blood and Cramer has to come to a point of reckoning.
William Shatner is this film. Say what you want about Corman being a master of shooting the indie scene back before there was an indie scene. But, Shatner took all of his perceived weaknesses as an actor and brought fury to this role. There was nothing redeemable to his character or to the people who he whipped into a panic. Corman doesn’t try to give Shatner or the townspeople a reason for being so evil; they just commit the acts and reap their perceived rewards.
I just love how the guy on the left seems to know that shit’s about to go down. Take a look at that stare.
Roger Corman never did such a serious picture again. It’s a real shame, as you can see the maverick director finding his way around heavy material that a bigger director like Preminger would’ve bogged down with melodramatic underpinnings. But, you can revel in the almost Noir tones that Corman used to paint this film. It’s a haunting look into what little it takes to set off a powder keg in the smallest of places. As a Corman fan, I’ve spent years in quiet appreciation of the film. Now, I can enjoy the fact that a big name studio like Buena Vista can bring this film to the attention of the masses.
Shatner had seen many bizarre things in the wilds of Canada. But, he never saw a man anally digest a chicken until now.
The Intruder finally gets some proper treatment in the Digital Age. Previously released by a public domain catch-all distributor, the aspect ratio was pinned under a widescreen matte. Now, Buena Vista has gone open matter and allowed the film to be shown closer to its original theatrical exhibition. The problem with that is, the transfer looks to have more damage than that previous New Concorde DVD release. It’s kind of a shame when a major studio like Buena Vista can’t beat a transfer pulled from a public domain house.
In terms of special features, we get two interviews from Corman and Shatner. They seem to be pulled from different times as we get the actor and director to sit down and talk about the great difficulty they had while shooting the picture. Shatner is kind of passive about the events, while Corman goes really in-depth and you feel like there is more to be said. A commentary from Corman and Shatner could’ve helped this out, but I guess there wasn’t money in the budget. It’s a shame, really.
It’s been awhile since we had to hang anybody. So, how does this work? We give you a push until your wrap your neck around that beam? Fuck this. It’s death by jungle gym or nothing in this town.
But, we get a new DVD release of Corman’s masterpiece from the effort. The presentation has some print damage and it might not be crystal clear. But, you’ve got a chance to see a film that has lived in the darkness of the mainstream for too long.