Intruders (1992) poster

Intruders (1992)

Rating:


USA. 1992.

Crew

Director – Dan Curtis, Teleplay – Barry Oringer & Tracy Tormé, Story – Barry Oringer, Based in Part on the Book Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods by Budd Hopkins, Producer – Branko Lustig, Photography – Tom Priestley, Music – Bob Cobert, Visual Effects – David Stipes Prod., Inc. (Supervisor – Mitch Suskin), Alien Creatures and Makeup Effects Created by Robert Short, Production Design – Bryan Rymar. Production Company – Osiris Films/Dan Curtis Productions, Inc./CBS Entertainment Productions.

Cast

Richard Crenna (Dr Neil Chase), Mare Winningham (Mary Wilkes), Susan Blakely (Leigh Holland), Daphne Ashbrook (Leslie Hahn), Alan Autry (Joe Wilkes), Ben Vereen (Gene Randall), Jason Beghe (Ray Brooks), Steven Berkoff (Addison Leach), Christian Cousins & Joseph Cousins (Timmy Wilkes), G.D. Spradlin (General Hanley), Robert Mendan (Dr Stanley Epstein), Warren Frost (Dr Holman), Rosalind Chao (Dr Jenny Sakai)


Plot

Nebraska farmer’s wife Mary Wilkes is found on a country road miles from her home in a state of fear and confusion. In California, psychiatrist Dr Neil Chase is asked to treat Leslie Hahn who is experiencing irrational fears, believing that phone linesmen were trying to break into her house. In treating Leslie, Chase uses hypnosis to regress her to the incident, which she has blanked from her memory. She recalls how men with no faces entered her house and she was abducted. Leslie later finds that she is pregnant. In his subsequent dealings with Mary, Chase finds that she had a remarkably similar experience to Leslie. In exploring their stories and those of others, Chase becomes certain that the abductees experienced something for which he has no understanding. However, his insistence in the reality of their experiences also damages his reputation in the psychiatric community.


The UFO phenomenon has been with us since the late 1940s and the first sightings of what were originally called flying saucers. There have been numerous peculiar permutations and developments since then. A few years later, there came reports of Alien Abductions, along with associated pieces that kept being added to the mix such as hypnotic regression of recovered memories, claims of alien impregnation and implants, and then Whitley Streiber’s best-selling book Communion (1987) in which he claimed to have been abducted by aliens and to have undergone anal probings.

The idea of Alien Abduction has been with us in SF cinema since the 1950s with films like This Island Earth (1955) and The Terrornauts (1967), although these portray it as a far less traumatic experience than most real-life accounts. The work that popularised accounts of abduction was the supposedly non-fiction tv movie The UFO Incident (1975) based on the Barney and Betty Hill story. There was the film version of Strieber’s book with Communion (1989), followed by Intruders here. Not long after, Intruders’ co-writer Tracy Tormé wrote the script for the true-life based Fire in the Sky (1993) and this was followed by the whole phenomena that became tv’s The X Files (1993-2002, 2016-8) and then the Alien Autopsy video.

Intruders is based ‘in part’ on the book Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods (1987) by Budd Hopkins. Hopkins (1931-2011) was an artist who had gained some acclaim in the abstract impressionist movement. He had experienced a UFO encounter himself in 1964. Dissatisfied with the official response when he tried to report this, Hopkins began to investigate the UFO phenomenon on his own and started gathering the stories of others who had had encounters and made claims to have been abducted. It was Hopkins who developed hypnotic regression as a technique for retrieving blanked memories. He began publishing on the subject with Missing Time: A Documented Study of UFO Abductions (1981) and produced several other books on the subject, as well as founding the Intruders Foundation support group in 1989. Intruders is loosely based on his investigation into the abduction claims of Indianapolis mother Debbie Jordan-Kauble (called Kathy Davis in the book).

Intruders was a production from Dan Curtis (1927-2006). Curtis had gained a great deal of fame as producer of the cult tv series Dark Shadows (1966-71). This had allowed him to springboard on to a career as a horror producer where he produced and sometimes directed two Dark Shadows spinoff films, several classic tv movies of the era including The Night Stalker (1972) and Trilogy of Terror (1975), plus adaptations of several other classic horror stories. (A full list of Dan Curtis’s genre productions is at the bottom of the page). By the 1980s, Curtis had expanded beyond genre material to producing and directing the epic-sized mini-series The Winds of War (1983) and its sequel War and Remembrance (1988-9).

The UFO in Intruders (1992)
The appearance of the UFO

Intruders was a TV Mini-Series that aired on CBS in two two-hour slots. To place this in context, the mini-series came out ten months before Fire in the Sky and sixteen months before The X Files premiered. It offers a view of Alien Abduction that is far more benign that these others. Communion and the other abovementioned works are framed in terms of the abductees undergoing a nightmare form of violation akin to a rape experience. By contrast here, Dan Curtis’s direction is traditional and fairly straightforward. There is none of the dark, shadowy paranoia adopted by the directors of these other works. By the end of the mini-series, the experience is almost Spielbergian – the vision of the alien hybrid child that Mare Winningham is granted is more akin to the emotional uplift of Richard Dreyfuss going off to the stars in glowing lights at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

At the time, Tracy Tormé was a hot name on the basis of his scripting work on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94). (See below for Tracy Tormé’s other works). Given his interest in the subject both here and in Fire in the Sky, as well as the UFO documentary he later produced with The Phenomenon (2020), you get the impression that Tormé has a good deal of fascination with the topic of UFOs and Alien Abduction. These works have a proselytising zeal to them as though he was ardently trying to present evidence and statements from abductees in order to make the case to us in favour of something having happened.

This also tends to work against the dramatic impact that Intruders might have. The whole mini-series consists of the stories of two women (Mare Winningham and Daphne Ashbrook) who were abducted (and we later find were impregnated). We also get a much briefer account from former soldier Ben Vereen who was at the site of a UFO crash and committed to a mental hospital as part of a military cover up. Richard Crenna wanders through these scenes with hangdog expression looking his most empathetic where his sole method of bringing out their stories is through hypnotic regression.

It is indicative of how much Tracy Tormé wants us to believe in what he is saying that he casts Richard Crenna as someone taking a stance against the scientific establishment and risks his reputation. Against this, Tormé presents nothing that might offer counter-argument such as the criticism made of the use of hypnotic recall as a tool in accounts of alien abduction and ritual Satanic abuse that were endemic at the time, which led to numerous charges of False Memory Syndrome. Damaging accusations were made by people with no evidence to support them other than memories supposedly recovered when they were in a highly suggestible hypnotic state. In complete contrast to the psychiatrists we see here, the psychiatric profession embraced these methods rather than took a stance against them and it was not until dissenting voices began to emerge about their methodology that the practice was discontinued.

Tracy Tormé is a genre regular. He began writing episodes and graduated to script editor in the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94). Outside of that, he wrote the modestly effective occult film Spellbinder (1988), Fire in the Sky (1993) and went on to create the alternate world hopping tv series Sliders (1995-2000) and the sf series Odyssey 5 (2002-4). Tormé also acted as executive producer on the tv series Carnivale (2003-5) and the film I Am Legend (2007), for which he had originally developed the script.

Dan Curtis’s other genre productions are:- The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1968), House of Dark Shadows (1970), Night of the Dark Shadows (1971), The Night Stalker (1972), Frankenstein (1973), The Invasion of Carol Enders (1973), The Night Strangler (1973), The Norliss Tapes (1973), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973), Dracula (1974), Scream of the Wolf (1974), The Turn of the Screw (1974), Trilogy of Terror (1975), Burnt Offerings (1976), Curse of the Black Widow (1977) and Dead of Night (1977).


Full mini-series available here


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