￼This is the kind of thing that movie nuts live for. We’re always thrilled by the news of finding films that were forgotten, presumed lost, or, in some cases, previously unknown.
In 2012, Garagehouse Pictures’ Harry Guerro discovered a 35mm print of actor-writer-director Chris Robinson's Florida-lensed thriller The Intruder (1975) in, of all places, a storage unit on the outskirts of the Mojave desert. The film was never released, and for many years, not included on the IMDB, nor featured in any filmographies of its cast (which includes Mickey Rooney, Yvonne De Carlo and Ted Cassidy).
Chris Robinson, a character actor in such drive-in favourites as Beast From Haunted Cave (1959) and Stanley (1972), began writing, directing and acting in his own films after relocating to Florida: 1972's Sunshine Run (retitled Black Rage for its VHS release), and especially 1974's Thunder County (released by K. Gordon Murray); both films also featured Ted Cassidy, and Mickey Rooney also stars in the latter. Robinson’s subsequent effort, The Intruder, a variation of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, features 11 hapless gold-digging characters on an island retreat who are bumped off one by one. For reasons obscure, this nugget was unreleased, and remained largely unknown to genre fans until the discovery of its sole print. (All other elements had been lost.)
This film's Blu-ray release is the latest from Garagehouse Pictures, the newest boutique company releasing vintage obscure exploitation films. They have already secured a reputation for unearthing genre fare that was thought lost, or at least unseen for decades, such as the regional horror comedy The Dismembered (1962). (Their releases of Ninja Busters and The Satanist also were due to that same storage unit.) Future releases on their schedule include not one but two Andy Milligan movies (Monstrosity; Weirdo), and Robert W. Morgan's regional horror film Blood Stalkers (1976). But thrilling discoveries like this beget a tantalizing mystery: What else did they find there? What was left behind, to be lost to film history?
All films matter; ideally, everything should be preserved, and made available for those who wish to see it. But in these circumstances, when a film so obscure is unearthed (and in this case, seen for the first time), there lies the possibility of overvaluing its importance. For instance, if The Intruder had been released in 1975, and did its expected run in the drive-in circuit and perhaps on home video, would we still be discussing it?
Without all the fanfare surrounding its discovery, The Intruder stands on its own as an unusual, moody film that is definitely worth seeking out. Regionally produced genre films (in the heyday from the 1960s to the 1980s) are especially valuable historical documents of their eras, as they lend a certain authenticity and feel that a glossy studio project would lack. Anyone (like me) who is fascinated by these films would rejoice that The Intruder has been discovered. Like many of the Florida-produced exploitation films of its day, the mysterious beauty of its location becomes a character unto itself.
Full review coming soon in the new ESR!
Click here to view Garagehouse Pictures’ website.