BluRay/DVD Reviews

DARK INTRUDER

By • Sep 21st, 2008 •

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“There are certain pleasures you get – little jabs of pleasure when a swordfish takes the hook…or watching a great dancer – you don’t have to know about ballet. That little bell rings inside – that little jolt of pleasure. That’s what happened to me just now.” James Mason in A STAR IS BORN.

That pretty well sums it up for me when I stumble upon a little seen film that turns into, for someone like myself, a discarded gem lying in the dust. A few years ago I attended a private screening and viewed two beautiful 16mm copies of FEAR NO EVIL starring Louis Jourdan (Universal MCA -1969) and THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BELL (Cinema 100 -1971), two made-for-television films I had pretty much forgotten about. Seeing them both again, uncut, with no commercials, and with beautiful color and sound, was a jab of that pleasure Mr. Mason talked about. And it made me appreciate the talent of Paul Wendkos (THE MEPHISTO WALTZ) as a truly creative talent.

Now we come to another little sapphire – DARK INTRUDER. Originally produced as a television pilot for a planned series entitled “The Black Cloak” by Universal Pictures, the film was unsold to the networks and as a result was released to theatres on January 1, 1965, at a running time of 59 minutes (another television pilot, put out by Warner Brothers, called HOUSE OF WAX, was also released to theatres as CHAMBER OF HORRORS the following year). Produced by Jack Laird, who would go on to create Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery,” and written by “Man In Half Moon Street” author Barre Lyndon (who incorporates elements from H.P. Lovecraft and both “The Scarlet Pimpernal” and “The Shadow”). Direction chores were by Harvey Hart, who would go on to produce and direct many hit television shows (including STAR TREK fave “Mudd’s Women”), and worked here with the moody cinematography of John F. Warren, giving this telefilm the feel of a Universal Horror entree right out of the 1940’s (on a personal note the film also reminded me, with its opening scene, of the Peter Cushing/ Burke and Hare historical drama THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS directed by John Gilling).

Leslie Nielsen, in a wonderful leading role, plays wealthy ne’er-do-well Brett Kingsford, leading player among the San Francisco jet set (early 20th Century that is!), with an eye for the ladies and a strong hangover the following morning. But like Lamont Cranston and Jules de Grandin, Kingsford is drawn to the dark side and as an expert on the occult, leads a secret life known only to his man-servent Nikola (Charles Bolender) and Police Inspector Harvey Misbach (Gilbert Green), as a warrior of Light against the forces of Evil. In this film his best friend, Robert Vandenburg (Mark Richman, best known for his role in the classic “Outer Limits” episode “The Borderland” with Nina Foch) is the target of dark forces on the eve of his wedding to socialite Evelyn Lang (Judi Meredith in a wonderful over-the-top role as a hyper/sometimes screechy-voiced whirlwind). A trail that is part of a series of unrelated murders, so it seems, leads to the door of deformed wizard Professor Malakai (Werner Klemperer – best known as the inept Colonel Klink on television’s “Hogan’s Heroes”). There, on the night before Vandenburg’s wedding, Kingsford battles to save his friend…but does he?

This movie came and went, with few television showings, finally dropping out of sight. Now thanks to Greg Luce at SINISTER CINEMA (www.sinistercinema.com), DARK INTRUDER lives again in all its B&W glory! The print. taken from 16mm, is very clear, with just a few scratches, and the audio is likewise excellent (crank it up to hear Lalo Schifrin’s wild score!) with very little pop or distortion. The DVD is not enhanced with supplements, but it will not lose your interest if you love old and rare movies. Turn down the lights, crank up the sound and enjoy!


Click here to purchase DARK INTRUDER through Sinister Cinema

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2 Responses »

  1. Leslie Nielsen, star of DARK INTRUDER, died on November 28, 2010 at age 84 years old. A great loss to not only his family, but us, his fans who really enjoyed his various roles!!!!
    Goodbye Friend!!!!!

  2. Big News!!! TCM will be releasing on dvd “DARK INTRUDER”- on a double bill with the William Castle “THE NIGHT WALKER”! Nov. 3rd will, I understand, is the release date!

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