Saturday, November 12, 2011

Intruders Come Early

As I'd mentioned a few weeks ago, Synapse got me to pre-order Scott Spiegel's infamous slasher film INTRUDER  Blu-ray + DVD set at full MSRP - two things I rarely do these days - by offering the rare VHS sourced workprint on a hand-numbered DVD-R (and I'm in the double digits, for whatever that's worth). It's not uncommon to get a disc up to a week early when you order from the publisher, but I certainly didn't expect to get the disc a month in advance! Holy shit, thanks, Synapse! Now, if only we could get Media Blasters to release discs less than a month after their projected release dates... As for the disc itself, it's pretty damn encouraging based on the curiousity glance I've been so far able to afford it. Please, don't take this as a comprehensive review, this is just me riffling through the chapters and giving you my first impressions for an early X-mas present.

Levels look spot on with white highlights and solid blacks, while flesh tones and the crimson Karo syrup all appear as gaudy and natural as I'd expect from the last great American slasher film. Grain is thick, but well enough resolved and looks quite natural in motion. The speckling of minor black and white specs point to Synapse's 2K restoration being based on a high quality positive print rather than the original negative - Don May Jr. has only ever said they made a new scan of the "original materials" when discussing Intruder, and never actually used the word "negative" - but with the stories I've been lucky enough to hear in private, it's possible that this is the best 35mm elements left anywhere.

The 16:9 framing - I think a first after years of 4:3 "fullscreen" presentations - looks very natural and doesn't seem to go out of its way to clip off the tops of heads or any especially relevant details. I can only assume that this was shot with the intent to be released theatrically at 1.85:1 and all prior releases were simply released open-matte, with this 1.78:1 being close to how the film COULD have looked theatrically, had Paramount not decided they didn't give a half a shit about it and then promptly kicked it out into the fledgling direct-to-video market. Rest easy on the aspect ratio, friends: There's absolutely no need to hang on to those crumby old DVDs sourced from nasty looking VHS period masters.

For those of you who preordered from Synapse's website, you'll get your disc in a resealable plastic bag (rather than shrinkwrap) with a hand-numbered DVD-R featuring a copy of director Scott Spiegel's own VHS workprint, which includes a number of alternate takes (some included on the BD as a ten minute "deleted scenes" reel) and the original on-set audio. It's not an essential lost Director's Cut or anything like that, but it is pretty damn cool to have as a bonus, and as differences literally appear within the first 30 seconds of the film there's bound to be all sorts of previously undiscovered nuggets for even old-school fans who saw all the gore on the Dragon import DVD.

The Director's Cut Blu-ray runs 1:27:35, while the Workprint runs 1:29:15. Keep in mind is that the workprint doesn't have any credits at all, while 6 minutes of the DC is Opening and Ending titles - so the workprint actually has about 8 minutes of alternate footage!

Synapse "Intruder" Blu-ray

Synapse "Night Crew" DVD-R

Obviously the workprint bonus disc isn't going to win any audio/video awards, but it's a unique look at the original cut of Scott Spiegel's gore opus that fans with fond memories of the bootleg VHS days of yore should get a kick out of. Remember friends, the workprint is only available at the SYNAPSE FILMS WEBSITE to the first 500 people who order it direct from the source. So go on, support your local independant film distributor for a job well done, and get a sweet little limited edition bonus out of it.

As far as extras go, the release doesn't compare to Zombie, but it feels substantially packed none the less: There's an all new commentary with writer/director Scott Spiegel and producer Lawrence Bender, 10 minutes of workprint sourced deleted scenes, a 39 minute long "Slashed Prices: The Making Of INTRUDER" retrospective created by the busy folks over at Red Shirt Productions, two vintage video trailers,  about 11 minutes of screen tests, and most unexpectedly a 7 minute approximation of The Night Crew, Scott Spiegel's early 1980s short that would later become Intruder. There's some cool stuff, but it'll take me a while to really dig my teeth into all of it.

Fans of gross-out B-movies of a bygone age need to order this thing, like, yesterday. I'll update the site with anything else of note should I find it, but consider the above screenshots a fair and accurate rendition of what to expect. The film looks fine and there's plenty of extras to gnaw on, and the fact that Synapse sent the lovely thing out four weeks early has just tickled me pink. My poor, abused Mastercard might be off in the corner considering suicide right now, but personally I couldn't be happier.


Kriztoffer Swank said...

Excited for this—not just the Blu-ray but the DVD-R also. Hopefully my copy will ship out Monday.

Kentai 拳態 said...

Having watched the Blu-ray end to end as of about ten minutes ago, I can say you shouldn't be disappointed. There's precious little to add to what I've posted up already - it's just a great, faithful presentation of a fantastically fun little splatter film, and I can't imagine any genre fan walking away from it disappointed.

The DVD-R workprint is just the icing on the delicious Blu-ray cake, just the way it should be.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

How was the DVD-R packaged? Is it housed in the case or a separate envelope or something?

Kentai 拳態 said...

It's in a paper envelope placed inside the BD case. Nothing fancy, but I didn't notice any dirt of scuffs on the disc, so it's not worth complaining about either.

I wish I had a spare 3 disc case kicking around. Maybe I'll just steal the case from The Dark Knight, since that silly Digital Copy disc is surely expired by now anyway...

Greg M said...

I caved and ordered this mid last week. My order number was 602... but I'm guessing that doesn't mean I missed out on one of the special 500 copies considering Synapse is still advertising the bonus disc on their site.

Don May Jr said...

Hello everyone!

Ran across this great site via a Twitter link. Thx for the review and screenshots. Just to clear things up, we transferred the only existing uncut 35mm Interpositive element that existed in the vault for INTRUDER. We also got the 35mm optical soundtrack.

Luckily, the materials were in great shape!

Kentai 拳態 said...

Hey Don, glad you like the site! You're one of the few cult-niche labels I generally don't have to bitch about, and for that I thank you. :)

Thanks for a confirmation on the INTRUDER materials. As I said it looks great, but the grain and print damage was just heavy enough that I figured I could rule out this being the OCN. Glad to hear they were in good shape and didn't give you much trouble.

Forgive my morbid curiosity, but does the negative still exist for that butchered R-rated cut of the film?