Released toward the end of the “hagsploitation” cycle that began with Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), this shabby horror flick uses the familiar device of a deranged ex-movie star living out a twisted retirement in a Hollywood mansion, so any resemblance to Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) is purely intentional. Suffice to say this flick falls well short of Wilder’s masterpiece—and even Aldrich’s camp classic. Cheap, discombobulated, and tacky, Savage intruder can’t decide whether it’s a blood-and-guts shocker, a bummer melodrama, or a hip commentary on showbiz. The gist is that fallen star Katharine Packard (Miriam Hopkins) suffers delusions of resuming her career, even as a killer stalks the Hollywood hills, targeting middle-aged women. Enter Vic Valance (John David Garfield), a slick-talking stud who becomes part of Katherine’s household staff. Naturally, he’s the killer, so the ending is a foregone conclusion. In lieu of mystery, the movie has weirdness, both in terms of over-the-top dismemberment scenes and psyched-out sequences. Vic endures surreal flashback/hallucination bits, all gauzy compositions and harlequin-patterned tunnels. As for poor Katharine, she ends up at debauched parties. During one, she’s approached by a drug-dealing dwarf whom she brushes off by saying, “No thank you—the only trips I take are to Europe.” Lest you get the idea she’s an innocent, Katherine gets drunk while participating in the Hollywood Christmas Parade, lamenting that Hollywood Boulevard was preferable before “all these hoodlums and queers” arrived. Although Savage Intruder is not scary, some viewers might get a mild buzz by huffing the movie’s derivative campiness.
Savage Intruder: LAME