Year 1965
Studio Universal
Show Dark Intruder
Producer Jack Laird
Director Harvey Misbach
Writer Barre Lyndon

Leslie Nielsen

Mark Richman

Judi Meredith

Gilbert Green

Charles Bolender

Wener Klemperer (Colonel Klink)

Length 59 mins

Dark Intruder

‘‘If people knew what we knew, they wouldn't sleep at night.’’

Originally 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.)

After consulting 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 demon!

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."