Savage Intruder/Review

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< Savage Intruder
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This hagsploitation/exploitation hybrid, an over-the-top gore take on Sunset Boulevard, is one of several films that offer viewers a queasy peek at an aging movie star—playing an aging movie star.


Miriam Hopkins (in her final role) is Katherine Packard, an alcoholic former Hollywood starlet who, following a drunken tumble down a flight of stairs, is now crutch and wheel chair bound. Into her lonely and isolated life comes a charming firecracker who also happens to be sadistic serial killer with mommy problems. His name is Vic Valance (David Garfield), he’s tricked his way into both Miriam’s expansive Hollywood Hills home—and her heart.

But not everyone finds him appealing. Miriam’s long time executive secretary Leslie (Gale Sondergaard) questions his motives—but is hesitant to upend her boss’s new revelry. Elderly housekeeper/cook Mildred (Florence Lake) is too busy deflecting Vic’s acerbic barbs and painfully astute observations. And there’s lovely Greta (Virginia Wing), a staff member who find’s Vic beguiling—even though he doesn’t hesitate to make overtly racist jokes (she’s Asian) at her expense.


Director/writer/co-producer Donald Wolfe offers up a singular vision unabashedly ripped from contemporary headlines. The infamous Manson murders had taken place in Hollywood the same year as Savage Intruder AKA Hollywood Horror House was filmed. Pills, intravenous drug use, pot smoking and heroin use are all on display here—drawing attention to the 60s/70s age gap and the shared contempt that the old guard and the newer, younger generation had for one another. So are societies “misfits”: effeminate homosexuals, free-love spouting hippies, flute playing temptresses, and even a “little person”.

Surreal psychedelic flashbacks, an orgy, gore and severed body parts are a part of this story. So is the documentation of faded Hollywood in 1969/70 (the credit sequence featuring the giant dilapidated “Hollywood” sign is exceptional). A segment showing a vintage Hollywood movie premier, and scenes revealing the machinations of movie-making dazzle. But it’s the over-the-top spectacle of aging stars of yesteryear holed up in their mansions watching old movie clips that one remembers.


Filmed in the former home of silent film star Norma Talmadge, Savage Intruder, although slow at times, is exploitation cinema by the books.


Josiah Howard is the author of four books including Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide (now in a fourth printing). His writing credits include articles for the American Library of Congress, The New York Times and Readers Digest. A veteran of more than one hundred radio broadcasts, Howard also lectures on cinema and is a frequent guest on entertainment news television. Visit his Official Website.

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