Wes Craven's Shocker is one of the best Horror films of the late 80s and early 90s that deserves a second chance. A great mixture of Horror,Comedy,Wonderful direction, excellent soundtrack,great special effects and an unforgettable villain,Shocker is Wes Craven at his best an most underrated.
Shocker tells the story of a college football player named Jonathan Parker(Peter Berg)who after a hard day of practice has a nightmare about a serial killer named Horace Pinker(Mitch Pileggi)who kills Jonathan's family and has been murdering families for months. Unfortunately,Jonathan's nightmare comes true. With Jonathan's help,Pinker captured by the police and sent to the electric chair and even though Pinker is electrocuted and dead,Pinker's soul is still loose thanks to black magic and electricity giving Pinker power to posses people's bodies and get revenge on Jonathan. Now Jonathan has to figure out how to stop Horace Pinker and get rid of Pinker once and for all.
Wes Craven's Shocker was Craven's attempt to jump start another Horror film series that revolved around the character Horace Pinker that can rival Freddy Kruger and the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise,after Craven wasn't able to make money off the Elm Street films. Although Shocker made a profit at the box office,it wasn't enough to make a sequel or a series. But that doesn't stop Shocker from being the great, wonderful and Underrated Horror film that it is. The first ten minutes of the film set the tone for most of the film,giving us viewers a world where a city is on edge and Horace Pinker is murdering families during the night and the news and media shows us the horrifying images of Pinker's murders. While it is grounded in reality,Shocker also has nightmarish feel to it where the characters are not safe from Pinker's wrath and the way Craven shows violence in this film and his other films is brutal and harsh. What I also love about Shocker is the Comedy that Craven injects in the film especially when Pinker starts to possess people's bodies,because it's so over the top,insane and filled with maniacal energy and you think as a viewer that the film could not anymore crazier or insane. I also like the pot shots that Craven takes at the media and television where Craven makes fun of the media and their constant reporting on Pinker's whereabouts and that they're televisions always on and all over the place. You can say that Craven's exploration of the media was a precursor to his later films like New Nightmare and the Scream films. Horace Pinker is such a great memorable villain and is one of the most entertaining villains in a 1980s Horror film and is a classic invention from Wes Craven because Pinker is a killer who has a sadistic joy in killing people spitting out funny and insane one-liners and showing no remorse or feelings for what he does. Pinker is so over the top and off the wall you never knew what Pinker was going to do next and you can't talk him down. I believe that if Shocker was a box office hit Shocker would have gotten more sequels and Pinker could have been a major Horror icon and while Horace Pinker wouldn't necessarily be as big or huge as the big three 1980s Horror film icons(Freddy,Jason,Michael Myers),I think Horace Pinker would have been known and recognized by Horror fans. The violence and gore in this film is bloody and brutal and fits in with the film's tone,but you can tell the film's violence was cut(the film was originally rated X and had to be submitted 13 times to get an R rating). One of the main criticisms of Shocker is that it's too similar to the first A Nightmare On Elm Street and while they're maybe some similar styles and a few connections(same director,opening credits,dream sequences,main villains)both films are different and should not be compared. The final 15-20 minutes of the film are among the funniest scenes you will see in Horror film and is filled with such wild imagination and creativity. It is an ending that will stay after the film ends and is a classic Wes Craven ending.
The acting from the cast is great. Mitch Pileggi is excellent as Horace Pinker,with Pileggi bringing a scary,over the top and funny brilliance to the role. Peter Berg is wonderful as Jonathan,the hero of the film with Berg bringing depth to the performance. Michael Murphy is effective and believable as Cop Donald Parker,Jonathan's Father. Cami Cooper does a good job as Alison,Jonathan's girlfriend and has a good chemistry with Berg. Sam Scarber(Cooper)and Richard Brooks(Rhino)give good performances as well. Also lookout for cameos by Ted Raimi(Packman),John Tesh(TV Newscastor),Heather Langenkamp(Murder Victim),Dr. Timothy Leary(Television Evangelist) and Wes Craven himself(Neighbor).
Wes Craven's direction in the film is excellent with Craven using great camera angles,constantly moving the camera and giving the film a good visual style. Great direction,Craven.
The score by William Goldstein is effective and creepy and fits with the films tone. Great score. The film also has a great soundtrack with songs by Megadeth(No More Mr Nice Guy),The Dudes Of Wrath (Shocker),Saraya(Timeless Love),Bonfire(Sword&Stone),Dangerous Toys(Demon Bell-The Ballad Of Horace Pinker)Iggy Pop(Love Transfusion)and Dead On(Different Breed). An excellent Hard-Rockin' Heavy Metal soundtrack.
The special effects are well-done and work for the film and hold-up well years later.
In final word,if you love Horror films or Wes Craven I highly suggest you check Shocker,a great,underrated Horror film that deserves a second chance and is Wes Craven at his best. Highly Recommended. 10/10.