Wes Craven has made a lot of films, several of which helped change the landscape of horror. Films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, a horror movie that turned Freddy Kruger into a household name. The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left and Scream are just some of his most famous works but alongside those better known horrors he also made many lesser known films that hold up really well.
One if which is 1989’s Shocker. If you want to know more about Wes Craven’s impact then make sure you read our career retrospective here.
Written & directed by Craven, Shocker is a mix of slasher horror & black comedy. It stars Michael Murphy, Peter Berg, Cami Cooper, and Mitch Pileggi. The latter plays the villain of the film & clearly has an absolute blast doing so.
Pileggi plays Horace Pinker, a serial killer who has been slaughtering his way through a suburb of LA. When Lt. Don Parker (Michael Murphy) gets to close to finding out Pinker’s identity, the psychopath kills his entire family except his foster son, Jonathon (Peter Berg).
Jonathan begins to dream of Pinker & is able to lead the police to his hideout. Pinker manages to escape killing several officers in the process & enraged by Jonathon, kills his girlfriend.
Jonathon won’t rest now until Pinker is caught so goes after him ending up almost dead until the police bust in & arrest the killer.
Unsurprisingly Pinker is tried & convicted quickly. It’s the electric chair for him. However, he’s made a deal with the devil one that means he does not actually die but instead becomes pure electricity, and is able to possess others. The switch is thrown & Pinker is dead in the eyes of everyone, everyone except Jonathon who quickly realises that the killer lives on but in other bodies.
Shocker is a very silly film, one that embraces it though & ends up being very entertaining. Everything about it is so 80s. The setting, the outfits, the acting, the effects…it’s glorious. However, it’s not difficult to see the similarities between this & A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s a wholly unoriginal idea even if it’s played out in a slightly different way.
Overlook that & you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. Mitch Pileggi is great, really imposing his villainy on screen while Michael Murphy and Peter Berg are good fodder for him to go up against.
It’s a pity that there isn’t more violence & gore as much of that takes place off-screen & some of the dialogue is very cheesy. Still, Shocker is charming flick that may not have the impact as all the movies at the top but is certainly memorable.
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