Reviewed by John Weber
Rating: 3.5 Beans
ometimes, as Sigmund Freud once said, a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes, a bad movie is just a bad movie, without the proper camp value to make it entertaining on a whole different level.
"Savage Intruder", a.k.a. "Hollywood Horror House", a.k.a. "The Comeback" (there might be a few more - I'm still checking) has its moments of idiocy, but mainly stays in the realm of boredom, a.k.a. sleep-inducing, a.k.a. pretty tough to watch.
Part of the problem is a veteran cast too good for its material, with the exception of John David Garfield, son of the legendary actor John Garfield. He's a mad slasher chopping up people in the Hollywood hills. Somehow, he's allowed to get off a tour bus and waltz up to the front door of has-been actress Katherine Packard (Miriam Hopkins, whose last movie before this was "The Chase" with Marlon Brando). Her staff mistakes Garfield for an aide they're looking to hire (Hopkins just broke her leg while in a drunken stupor). He takes the job and, pretty soon, is sleeping with a lovely young household staff member (Virginia Wing) AND Ms. Packard. All is swell. Garfield makes Hopkins feel like...well, like she's starring in a cheesy rip-off of "Sunset Boulevard" (which this is).
Then the pretty young thing gets pregnant, and threatens to tell. Faster than you can say "Swiss Army knife", he slices and dices her. Buries her. And we remember, oh, that's right, he's a psychotic lunatic. We almost forgot. We're also reminded via some gruesome flashbacks of Garfield as a boy, walking in on a drunken orgy, chopping off his mother's hand - and over and over, we see her bloody stump knocking over a bottle of vodka. Yummy.
"Savage Intruder" continues on predictably. Director Donald Wolfe could blame the screenwriter for the pathetic script - except he wrote it. It's sad to see an actress like Miriam Hopkins (whose career harkens back to 1931's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde") wasted and embarrassed in this, her final film. She's not bad. The talented Gale Sondergaard, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "Anthony Adverse" in 1936, chose "Savage Intruder" as her first appearance since 1949's "East Side West Side" (she was blacklisted). She has absolutely nothing to do except look stern and forbidding. Garfield shows that apples can, indeed, fall very far from the tree as he just blandly walks through every scene.
And one more thing - Joe Besser, one of the later Three Stooges, is featured as a co-star on the video box I picked up. However, he's nothing more than a glorified extra - the driver of the Hollywood tour bus that drops off Garfield at the old mansion. And as he does his tour guide thing, we are treated to a shot of a little girl getting off the bus - and throwing up. Maybe she got an advance peek at the script.
That'll be my mental remembrance of "Savage Intruder". Don't make it yours.
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