I know that on more than a few occasions, while writing an article about some dumb old horror movie, getting drunk off my ass and waxing romantic, I’ve made mention of “ones that got away”. You know, those horror movies that you heard a ton about, but never got around to see. You know, everyone’s seen it and when it comes up in random conversation, you look like a complete fuck for having not seen it. You know, the type of shit that makes you lose a little bit of horror cred? Yeah, Shocker is one of those movies for me.
So let’s take a little trip down memory lane here. It’s 1989, and I was a huge fan of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. So when I first saw the advertisements for Shocker I was knocked off my feet. Here was a movie that boasted that it was “From the maker of A Nightmare on Elm Street” about a killer who comes back after getting the chair. I was stoked. Keep in mind also, this was before Craven did Scream, or Wishmaster, or any of the other shit he did. He still had some credibility (I mean, Swamp Thing washed off his fucking back for Christ sake.)
But it got away. I never got around to seeing it until just now. It was one of those moments where you see a movie you’ve always wanted to watch, and snatch it up. There I was, at the massive HMV in Montreal after a weekend partying and messing up a hotel room with this firebrand I’m currently causing trouble with. That’s when I see it. Shocker. So I pick it up and I think, this is it.
Of course, things that you think will stand up to your childhood memory seldom do. Ask anyone basement dwelling man-child who watches a feature film based on their favorite Saturday morning cartoon.
If you believe what read on the internet, apparently Shocker was Wes Craven’s attempt to make a horror movie franchise that he could collect pay cheques from, getting the idea since New Line screwed him out of a lot of coin he could have gotten from the Nightmare franchise. Watching this movie, I see that he was trying to recreate what made Nightmare so great, by doing the kind of crap that turned it into shit. Goofy ideas, silly one-liners, and gimmicky special effects.
The other thing that makes this shit-show hard to watch is that it starts Mitch Pileggi playing the role of the killer. If the name is unfamiliar to you, he played Assistant Director Skinner on the X-Files. So, after so many years of seeing him as a hard-assed straight laced senior manager of the FBI, seeing him play a limping serial killer with a hard on for Satan and electricity is hard to try and wrap your head around.
That’s the other thing, the premise of it is damn right silly. Pileggi plays a multiple killer who’s caught by his own son (who was taken away and adopted) after murdering most of his foster family and girlfriend. After making a deal with Satan through a television set and jumper cables, Pileggi’s character gets the chair and can possess bodies with the power of electricity.
The movie has goofy dream powers, ghosts, and the typical hacky religious iconography that Wes Craven has beaten to death in all of his movies. The movie is ridiculous in it’s plot, it’s got some lame ridiculous special effects, Ted Raimi, and a shit ton of bad jokes. But all this aside, it’s entertaining to watch, and it’s a shame that it didn’t become a franchise in itself, because compared to Scream and the other garbage Wes Craven has made in the past 20+ years since, it would have been way more entertaining.
Anyway, that’s all from me this time around. Stick around. Keep an eye peeled in the near future, if you want more commentary on Wes Craven from me, I’m working on a video retrospective of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Hopefully I get it done soon, I’ve got 3 of 9 videos done. I’m just a lazy bastard.