Assuredly the lowest point of Wes Craven's filmography, Shocker is a jumbled and often absurd horror/comedy that woefully misfires on both counts. The convoluted plot crowds in so many mismatched pieces that it seems like Craven decided to cram sketches of several movies into this one, and the end result is an over-long pastiche of clichés that limps along to its obnoxiously lame conclusion begging desperately to be put out of its misery.
I'm hoping that writing the plot down will help me make sense of it in my own mind, so let's give it a shot. The story is centered around a brutal serial killer named Horace Pinker (played by the normally solid Mitch Pileggi, who eschews acting here in favor of presenting an over-blown caricature of a movie psycho) and a twenty-something protagonist named Jonathan Parker, who, in a fine example of how relentlessly silly this movie is, we later discover is actually Pinker's long-lost son.
Though this is never made clear, the sequence of events seems to suggest that after suffering a concussion at football practice, Parker somehow develops supernatural powers that allow him to dream of Pinker's murders while they're happening. After Pinker butchers Jonathan's entire family (except for his detective father), and later his girlfriend, the vengeful lad makes catching the madman his personal mission. This leads to a Nightmare On Elm Street-cloning moment where Jonathan forces himself to fall asleep to see where Pinker will strike next and asks a friend to wake him up at the first sign of trouble.
Through Jonathan's resourceful plan, Pinker is captured and eventually executed via electric chair (the next day, apparently, since no effort is made to suggest any sort of time elapsing in between). However, before this justice is meted out the crafty maniac performs a Satanic ritual with the television in his cell, during which demonic yellow electricity overtakes him, ostensibly giving him the ability to transfer his essence into other people's bodies and take them over. Using this power, Pinker is able to escape his demise in the chair by jumping into someone else's body, and the killer is then free to roam the streets again while masking his identity with a series of human disguises (remember the movie The Hidden? If not, you should check it out, since it's a hell of a lot better than this one).
Clearly miffed that Jonathan foiled his murderous plans, Pinker's first order of business is getting revenge on his nemesis. Luckily, Jonathan is informed of Pinker's non-demise thanks to a dream he has, in which his dead, covered-in-blood girlfriend appears to warn him. In the vision, she hands Jonathan the necklace he once gave her and tells him it's the secret weapon that will stop Pinker once and for all (???), and, in yet another Elm Street lift, Jonathan wakes up to find the necklace in his bed.
Thus begins the second phase of the film, in which Pinker pursues Jonathan while inhabiting a variety of bodies. Apparently our hero read the script ahead of time, because the first time he is confronted by Pinker (disguised as a police officer), he immediately sees through the ruse and deduces that the malevolent spirit of Pinker is controlling the cop's body, and he also figures out without hesitation that when the body's life force is used up, Pinker will have to find another vessel to occupy.
In one of the film's ludicrous high-points, Pinker zaps into the body of a little girl, who then commandeers a conveniently abandoned tractor with the key in the ignition and tries to run Jonathan over with it. Despite Pinker's ability to leap into someone's body by touching them, he fails to use this skill when our hero picks up the little girl (wouldn't it be easier for Pinker to just jump into Jonathan's body and force him to kill himself?).
After escaping a few more retarded twists during this scenario, Jonathan seeks help from the first person anyone with a shape-shifting murderer chasing them would run to: his football coach (who, naturally, believes our hero's entire story without question and can't wait to help). Pinker takes over more bodies, he kills some people, he gets a few guns along the way and shoots at Jonathan approximately 819 times without hitting him, etc.
It takes almost two hours for this tripe to arrive at its thudding conclusion. Jonathan eventually figures out a plan to stop Pinker (way too involved and stupid for me to waste your time with here), but before he implements it he takes a break to have sex with the ghost of his dead girlfriend. In case you're curious, the climax finds Jonathan transforming into electricity (?), leaping into a television set (??), and doing battle with Pinker throughout TV land (???). Oh, and our hero also uses a remote control to force Pinker through a series of grade-school pratfalls (fast forward makes the brutish killer talk in a high squeaky voice, hardy har).
Other than the ample displays of Pinker's gory handiwork, there is absolutely nothing to recommend in this wretched mess. The meandering plot never coheres into a rational story, and the padded sentimentality of Jonathan's visits from his ghostly lover belongs in a young adult romance novel, not a fright flick. About the only thing Craven gets right is ending the movie in a way that doesn't blatantly crack open the door for a sequel (I can't even imagine how awful Shocker 2: Electric Boogaloo would be...).
The only shocker here is that the same film-maker who made a horror film as intelligent as New Nightmare also helmed this load of abysmal, mindless crap. Maybe he directed this after suffering a concussion at football practice?