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Shocker (1989)

DVD Cover (Universal)
Genres:
Horror, Media Satire, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Wes Craven Wes Craven
Starring:
Mitch Pileggi Mitch Pileggi
John Tesh John Tesh
Heather Langenkamp Heather Langenkamp
Peter Berg Peter Berg
Jessica Craven Jessica Craven

5.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: June 02, 2007
It's funny how one man's career can go from such great heights to such disastrous lows within just a couple of years. I'm referring to Wes Craven, the man who brought us one of the most beloved horror icons in history with 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street. The following year, he would go on to direct one of the worst sequels in history (The Hills Have Eyes, Part 2), and the year after that, he went on to direct Deadly Friend, a film which didn't exactly receive the most positive of press (no comment from me as I haven't seen it, but the negative reviews are almost unanimous). His career started to turn back around with 1988's The Serpent and the Rainbow, and then Shocker came along. Let's just cut to the chase - if the man hadn't had a handful of great movies under his belt at this point, his career would have been killed the minute this hit theaters. Yes, it's that bad.

The storyline starts out decently enough, as we learn that a serial killer who will soon be identified as Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi) is on the loose and quickly racking up an impressive body count. This awkwardly transitions over to the clumsy Jonathan (Peter Berg) and his girlfriend Alison (Camille Cooper). Jonathan, you see, is a football player who can never concentrate on the game while Alison is sitting in the stands, and on this particular day, he runs straight into the goalpost thanks to this living distraction. Suffering what appears to be a mild concussion, he goes home to sleep it off and eventually finds himself face to face with the killer, who just so happens to be murdering his foster parents. Jonathan then wakes up and we get the "oh, it was only a dream" speech before... the phone rings, and we learn that his foster parents have been murdered in the exact fashion that he dreamed about.

After some detective tomfoolery and random investigations, Horace is found, arrested, and sentenced to die in the electric chair. However, what the police don't count on is the fact that ol' Horace was a practitioner of black magic, and as a result, he short-circuits the chair and then gains the power to transfer his electrically-charged soul from body to body at will... and guess who has wound up at the top of his "to be killed" list?

See that first paragraph of the synopsis? That was a good setup for a film and was done up nicely for the screen, even if it did borrow liberally from Nightmare on Elm Street. The second paragraph? Alright, that was pushing it a bit, but it was still pretty entertaining in a campy sort of way and had a bit of potential. From there, the film takes a nosedive and moves out of the "campy entertainment" department and straight into "Jesus, this is fucking horrible" territory.

I'm going to spoil the hell out of this film. I normally don't do this, but to leave the plot synopsis as is would possibly lead some readers who may not have seen this to believe that it's worth a rental at the very least. Remember Jonathan's girlfriend, Alison? She's one of Horace's victims before he's sentenced to death, and throughout the remainder of the film, her spirit visits Jon and tells him what he needs to do to destroy this evil spirit. One of the most important things that must be done to stop him is to press the necklace that Alison wore up against this spirit while he's inside a human body. This works up to a certain extent, as it actually manages to cause the spirit to evacuate the human host... before he sticks his fingers into an electrical socket to escape through the wires.

Sounding a bit stupid, you say? I fully agree, but it gets worse - much worse. Horace eventually winds up in the main electric lines for the town, and as a result, he can appear on television channels at will. This leads to Jonathan having to jump inside his television as well and fight this spirit across the various TV channels. The two fight amidst a nature documentary, footage of the atomic bomb exploding, a World War II film, and yes, even across a televangelist's stage. A bit stupid? Try skullfuckingly retarded instead.

Couple a horrible storyline with a lead actor (Berg) who is about as believable as an anime character and "special" effects that wouldn't have looked any worse had they been created in Microsoft Paint and you have a film that Craven would probably like to forget about... well, until his remake checks start coming in, anyway. The sole selling point of the film is Mitch Pileggi as Horace; even though he was saddled with corny one-liners and a terrible script, the man did a damned good job with the character. Sadly, this wasn't nearly enough to save the film. 2/10.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 06/03/2007, 02:27 AM
Oh, come on -- I agree with your review and know where you're coming from, but this was cheesy fun. Guilty Pleasure Central for me. It's not changing the world, but it's making stoned teenagers laugh their asses off all the time. 5/10.
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 06/03/2007, 03:37 PM
I saw this on cable when I was younger and really liked it, I watch it now and its certainly no good, but its pretty damn fun.
seems like they kinda just made up things as they went along, but its definitely entertaining after a few bong rips.
Shakes #3: Shakes - added 01/22/2009, 01:06 PM
Wow, I love this movie. Acting is hilarious, and Mitch Pileggi is a maniac! Also...nice Tim Leary cameo as a TV evangelist. 5/10 indeed
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