the pilot for a TV series, Dark Intruder was instead released
as a feature film by Universal. Basically a combination of
Wild Wild West and an occult-versed Sherlock Holmes complete
with a brooding midget manservant, Dark Intruder is a very
atmospheric and at times moody piece set in a foggy 1890s
San Francisco. Unfortunately the main character, Brett Kingsford,
as played by Leslie (Police Squad!) Nielsen, is a little
too perky as the dilettante detective with the extensive occult
library and private crime lab.
The plot revolves around a series of gruesome murders. The
city is in a panic and our hero Brett goes, in disguise, to
the Police Commissioner to offer his assistance. He's incognito
because he doesn't want any of his high-society acquaintances
seeing him enter or leave the police station. Heaven forbid!
According to the Commissioner, the murder victims were found
lying next to strange figurines made from mummified flesh
and bone, each killed by some animal with large claws. This
gets Brett's occult brain juices a-flowing and he pontificates
on cults that worship "gods older than the human race . .
. deities like Dagon and Azathoth." (This is the film's slender
connection to Lovecraft, probably by way of Dark Intruder's
producer Jack Laird, who six years later would get serious
about adapting HPL for Rod Serling's Night Gallery.)
a wizened occult expert in China Town (who warns him of Derleth's
"banished gods . . . forever attempting to return to Earth"),
Brett starts putting the pieces together. The common thread,
he discovers, is that all the victims had been members of
an archeological dig in the Middle East.
It just so happens that his good friend, Robert (Mark Richman)
knows all the victims and keeps going into a trance around
the time of the murders. Hmmmm.
Apparently, Siamese twins were born to a member of the expedition.
One of the twins was terribly deformed and cruelly separated
and abandoned for scorpion fodder. Feeling sorry for the deformed
creature, a nurse saved the demon-baby and raised it as her
own. Now grown up, the deformed twin has been killing anyone
who knew of its existence in preparation for taking over Robert's
body by occult means. For you see, Robert is the good-looking
twin! Clearly there's a bit of "The Dunwich Horror" here.
The film ends with the evil twin conquering and possessing
Robert. Fortunately, our hero Brett figures out this switch-a-roo
and kills the evil twin, now housed in Robert's body, but
then proceeds to get kicked out of Robert's funeral for tactfully
telling the family that Robert isn't really Robert, he's a
Brett's ever-faithful midget manservant has the last word
and says it best by observing: "If people knew what we knew
they wouldn't be able to sleep at night."