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Review: Deadly Intruder (1985)

Writer: Thomas Ellison


Harvey the psycho escapes from a mental institution and returns home to kill his wife. One month later, a disheveled drifter (Tony Crupi) follows Jessie (Molly Cheek) to her secluded farm house. While Jessie prepares for an evening dinner party with friends, the drifter peeks in windows and a slasher thins out the guest list.

After a mildly interesting set up The Deadly Intruder switches from a slasher to the little used "lonely woman terrorized by dirty homeless guy" sub-genre. The little snippets of suspense generated in the first ten minutes are murdered by a sluggish pace, bad dialogue, and dumb characters. Most of the blame can be placed on screenwriter/actor Tony Crupi, who seems to move at a snail's pace because he knows it guarantees him more screen time. Simply pulling his ass off the floor, depositing it in a rocking chair, and putting his feet up takes two minutes.  Most insulting of all, the viewer is supposed to see Crupi's kidnapping, woman hating character as a hero at the end of the film.

Despite the "so dull it will put you to sleep" middle, The Deadly Intruder does have a few interesting points. Watching former child star Danny Bonaduce getting dwarf tossed into a television set by the killer is pretty damn hilarious. Bonaduce must have had a serious case of the munchies during filming because he's constantly shoving food in his mouth while on screen.  he kills, although never gory, do show some imagination. A fat guy having his eye plucked out with a screwdriver is the most extreme death shown. Synth fans will enjoy the score even if it sounds a bit like the theme from Halloween.

Director John McCauly makes several critical mistakes in trying to pull off the twist ending. It's really obvious the drift can't be murdering people in town if he's skulking around the house in the woods. Slasher fans should be able to spot the killer after only a few minutes. Giving Crupi so much screen time is also a fatal error. Watching stock footage of birds and squirrels would have been better than seeing more of  that little weasel's face.

If you've ever thought "I'd like to watch a slasher but I have to wash the dishes", then The Deadly Intruder is the film for you. Watch the opening ten minutes then find something to do for next thirty or forty. You won't miss anything interesting. Somehow Molly Cheek's career survived this film and she later became Jim's mom in the American Pie trilogy. One can't say the same for Stuart Whitman, slumming as a small town sheriff. Bonaduce has seen a resurgence in his career after beating drug addiction. Sadly, we'll never see Danny thrown through another TV.



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