Color, 1975, 86 mins. 30 secs.
Directed by Chris Robinson
Starring Chris Robinson, Mickey Rooney, Yvonne De Carlo, Ted Cassidy, Phyllis Robinson, Robert Leslie, Patricia Hornung, Buddy De Sarro, George De Vries, Warren Siciliano, John Orchard, Steven Patrick Alexander
Garagehouse Pictures (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9)

A The Intruderreal oddity shot back to back with the film The IntruderThunder County (a.k.a. Convict Women) by director, star, and writer Chris Robinson (star of the drive-in snake classic, Stanley), this lost slasher precursor from Florida was apparently never released after completion. That's quite a surprise considering it features two of that film's stars, Mickey Rooney and Ted Cassidy (best known as Lurch from The Addams Family), plus Yvonne De Carlo in a glorified cameo.

A boatload of people arrives at an abandoned mansion on a remote island, piloted all the way from the mainland by Rooney in a swanky pair of '70s sunglasses. Among the new arrivals are cranky Miss DePriest (De Carlo), nominal hero Reardon (Robinson), and lawyer McGowan (Leslie). In the foyer they're all presented with individually addressed letters, each tied to the estate of a man named "old man Axel," a relative who's presumed dead after his private plane went down in Panama. All of the assets of the deceased had been converted to gold bullion possibly stashed somewhere on the island by an absent business associate named Peterson The Intruderwho's offering to cut them The Intruderin if they help get the gold off the property. Pretty soon everyone's wandering off and conspiring while a killer knocks them off one by one, with a couple of crazed twists waiting in the final stretch.

Clearly inspired by mysteries like Ten Little Indians and The Cat and the Canary, this is a strange concoction that ranges from the genuinely creepy (a POV attack scene with a cross waved at the camera is especially unsettling) to the hilariously absurd, such as a knock-down martial arts fight that goes from a corpse-occupied bathtub into a hallway. Though he exits at the half-hour point (in a pretty amusing lighthouse moment if you're a Pete's Dragon fan), it's fun seeing Rooney turning up here in an atypical role that feels like it could have been done right after his work in the amazing The Manipulator. Perhaps the greatest asset is the chilling electronic score, which works up a similar vibe to films like The Severed Arm and Messiah of Evil, while the isolated island setting can't help but work up some spooky atmosphere that prefigures later films like The Slayer.

Nearly lost to oblivion, The Intruderthis film was salvaged by Garagehouse Pictures during the same Mohave desert excavation that also saved The Satanist and Ninja Busters; the mind boggles at what else The Intruderthey may have waiting in the wings at this rate. Considering all that's left is a 35mm print, the results here are quite satisfying and a welcome continuation of the label's impressive streak of releases so far. The LPCM English mono audio sounds good for an optical track, and optional English SDH subtitles are provided. Extras include a low-key but interesting commentary with Robinson (flying solo without a moderator), who reveals this was written in ten days and had to shoot all of Rooney and De Carlo's scenes in one day each. He also points out the various real locations and chats about the very low shooting budget as well as his thoughts on the personalities of his various actors including his own wife, who wasn't a professional actor at the time. Oh, and Mickey drove that boat for real. Also included is an archival 2008 interview with Robinson (24m42s) shot by Daniel Griffith about his entire show business career, plus trailers for The Dismembered, Trailer Trauma, Trailer Trauma 2, and Ninja Busters.

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Reviewed on August 2, 2017.