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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Shocker (1989) - Wes Craven


This movie is terrible but polished. I can recall Shocker trailer spots on television from my childhood. It looked frightening. I was wrong. Shocker was campy, laughable, and above all confusing. It is great for parties and marathons, but shouldn't be considered for serious film study. Absolutely nothing seems fresh or new. Almost everything feels half-assed and uninspired. But hey, this is horror. I guess I can lighten up. A bit. 

For some reason a teenager has a telekinetic link with a notorious serial killer named Horace Pinker. This guy has apparently murdered over thirty families in twenty years. He is brutal and loves killing. The psychic link allows the teenager to view the killings and witness these brutal murders. He can even project himself to appear physically in the presence of Pinker. It's weird and confusing. Eventually, the teen helps the police capture Pinker, who vows to get his revenge. While on Death Row, Pinker makes a deal with the Devil or some demon. On his execution date he is given The Chair. However, he seems to absorb the electricity making him stronger and transforming him into Shocker! 

This is where the movie just keeps beating itself into the ground. Horace Pinker develops new powers as Shocker. He is apparently made of pure electricity and can transfer his consciousness between bodies and victims. He seemingly jumps between bodies and chases the teen through the whole movie. It's bizarre. At one point he takes control of a small child and curses up a storm, which is hilarious. 

You hear about some movies that are so bad they end up being good. This is kind of one of those movies. Shocker goes on for far too long. It just keeps drudging along with a strange random pace that becomes frustrating. It's not scary. In fact it feels pretty tame. Almost made for television. At some points it felt as if I were watching an X-Files episode or something like that. Not just because Mitch Pileggi plays Horace Pinker. But it's tone is completely different other horror movies coming out around the same time. I felt like Wes Craven's New Nightmare felt the same way. 

The movie has a good deal of gore and speed/sleaze metal for the soundtrack. In these departments the film does well. However, the storyline and general malaise of the actors makes this pretty forgettable. It's not a wonder that no one really talks about it. Wes Craven has created some amazing ideas, but this was not one of them. Shocker should stay hidden away. 

Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Mitch Pileggi, Peter Berg, and Michael Murphy
Style: Telekinetic Slasher
Studio: Universal
Country: USA

Did ya know? 
According to Wes Craven, the film was severely cut for an R-rating. It took around 13 submissions to the MPAA to receive an "R" instead of an "X". Some of the scenes that were cut include; Pinker spitting out fingers that he bit off from prison guard, longer and more graphic electrocution of Pinker and longer scene of possessed coach stabbing his own hand.

The body of the jogger in the park that Horace takes over is Jonathan Craven, son of director Wes Craven.

When Jonathan and his father enter the Tavern after the funeral of their family, a news program is playing on the TV in the background and discussing the murders. Someone immediately changes the channel and on comes (briefly) the 1986 concert footage of Alice Cooper's The Nightmare Returns tour.

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