First up, we have The Intrusion, a small cast chamber piece from Story of Joanna costar Zebedy Colt, whose first directorial effort this film represents.
With one of those weird, sort of eerie early synth soundtracks so prevalent in no budget regional horror films of the decade, The Intrusion brings a dark tension to its every frame, the washed out, grainy look only adding to the feeling of some bizarre, unearthed archaeological time capsule that should never have been found…
Housewifey Kim Pope (complete with atrocious fashion sense and nasty old lady hairdo) gives her businessman hubby a nice sendoff, as endless intercut scenes of driving through the suburbs retain an overtone of menace.
After cutting the phone lines, our titular intruder (Michael Gaunt) interrupts the housework with an uncomfortable hour long no-budget take on films like Give Us Tomorrow, Hitch-Hike and Last House on the Left, adult style.
More “roughie” than anything else, this nearly plotless, light on dialogue film probably inspired a certain Cannibal Corpse song (I’ll let you guess which) and helped to end the early to mid-70’s unfortunate fashion trends of rope sack-tied baggy flares and multicolored checkerboard “dress pants”…if not, it sure should’ve!
Worst of all is the very non-ending, where intercut “highlights” punctuate a resolution that feels decidedly unresolved. The chirping birds that run over the otherwise silent end credits mirror the viewer’s nonplussed reaction to the film and its ending…
The only extra is an 18 minute interview with Michael “Gaunt” Dattore himself, who runs through his entire life and career within that brief timespan – contrary to some online sources, he claims The Intrusion is his first (professional) acting role. He’s also both proud and impressed with his work here and the industry of the era as a whole…which may be either refreshing or amusing, depending on how you look at it.
Next up, a long recitation from some early 70’s version of Barnes & Noble New Age section Wicca 101 kicks off some Dark Dreams.
A young Tina Russell and Harry Reems are newlyweds. The supposedly “virginal” Russell is still playing coy, though, which leads to bigger issues when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and they’re forced to seek help from a creepy old New England spinster…who may actually be a witch.
The old bag drugs their tea while shaking her head uncontrollably like she has the DTs, and suddenly Harry’s seeing her as a still kind of homely but much younger girl, who he proceeds to get nasty with (try not to think about the implications here…yecch!).
Some Manson Family type with one of those old 45 spindle converters (remember those?) on his forehead takes Tina upstairs, where she starts picturing everything from showers with scrawny dudes to getting molested by other girls to kinda hot belly dancers doing 10 minute routines for no apparent reason.
The old bat tries to convince Reems to dump Russell while more or less admitting her intentions towards the latter, and the dope just sits there with the shaky headed bitch guzzling doped tea.
Gotta love those 70’s “new men!”
At least he gets to live out a famous Herb Alpert album cover with cute Laura Cannon and a bowl of Kool-Whip (though why they’d actually ingest that shit’s beyond me…couldn’t afford a can of Reddi-Whip, guys?)
Reems bangs a beefy black girl, they outfit Russell in her wedding dress again and a batch of weirdos (including Cannon and Reems) boff her. Suddenly we’re back to when they first arrived at the house, repeat scene, roll end credits.
Ooh, spooky! How witchy that…really wasn’t…
In much better shape than The Intrusion, Dark Dreams is still a tad soft focus and hazy, but not half so washed out and grainy. Vinegar Syndrome brings contrast and vibrancy to the picture regardless, so it’s more a question of whether you’re expecting a more modern hi def picture or used to how films of this type and vintage used to look back in the days of VHS and theatrical…a low bar from which this is one major upgrade!
It’s really no contest here – if you’re going to go with one, Dark Dreams has a cold, wintry atmosphere, a Baba Yagaesque fairy tale feel, better color and restoration and at least has Russell, Cannon and belly dancer “Arlana Blue” to keep your interest (all three very much in their prime, thank you very much).
The other film, while it has some atmosphere in the early outdoor scenes and a creepy score, is probably best forgotten, unless your tastes really run a bit darker and rougher than they probably should (for both your own mental health and the comfort and well being of those you encounter).
Yeah, Dark Dreams is well worth a look.