Guillaume de Sade Reviews: Shocker (1989)
Directed and Written by: Wes Craven
Nowadays, when someone uses the term “Shocker”, it is usually followed by a knowing smirk and recitation of the current definition…two in the pink and one in the stink! Well not this time…this time I’m talking about the Wes Craven classic about a serial killer with a limp and a big ass knife! Not high intellectual fare, but fucking fun as hell!
Horace Pinker is criminally overlooked in most discussions of movie maniacs. He is the boogie man your parents thought you’d turn into by watching too much t.v.
All the classic stereotypes are here too…the loud but inspirational black guy, the virginal girlfriend and the dad that doesn’t believe his son when his son is trying to explain how he knows things he shouldn’t. However the truly classic thing about this movie is the soundtrack.
If you’re an 80’s hair metal aficionado, such as myself, then this is a must have! Paul Stanley, Desmond Child, Tommy Lee, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Dangerous Toys…if anyone of those names means anything to you then you need this soundtrack in your collection.
By this point, your probably wondering when I’m going to really delve into the movie and review it. Well, other than padding my review, I just wanted to get that other stuff out of the way and turn on the more critical side of my brain….so here goes:
“Shocker” main character Jonathan Parker is a pretty standard 80’s high school character…captain of the football team, dating the hottest girl in school and the son of the police captain. As the plot evolves, we find out that Jonathan is somehow connected to serial killer, Horace Pinker, through his dreams. You may remember this being a familiar Wes Craven theme from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series.
That’s pretty much where that similarity ends. Pinker murders the virgin, gets caught, does some voodoo in his cell…wait a sec…just have to mention during this voodoo ritual, in his jail cell, he has candles AND jumper cables…WTF kind of prison is this?! Anyways, after the voodoo, he reveals the big movie twist…spoiler alert:
He is Jonathan Parker’s real father…dun dun dunnnnnnn. Actually, since this is still pretty early in the movie, it’s okay with me, it’s not like it was really dragged out or played for suspense.
So where was I? Oh yeah, the voodoo, then the movie twist, then the revelation of powers he gained thru the voodoo ritual…now he can possess bodies and when he uses a body up, he can travel through electrical lines…what a shocker!
Mitch Pileggi was by far the best thing this movie had going for it. Wes Craven was at the beginning of a slump that wouldn’t end until Scream, so the writing for this movie definitely was not his best. Pileggi’s over the top, sadistic portrayal of the character was only upstaged once…and that was by a 7 year old girl cursing and trying to drive a bulldozer…but that’s not really fair…kids cursing is always funny.
Well enough of my near incoherent rambling, and onto my summation…”Shocker” was a commercial failure and with good reason. The story wasn’t great, the special effects weren’t great and with the aforementioned exception of Mitch Pileggi, most of the acting was only alright. This movie is like a bag of circus peanuts…to some it’s a delicious treat that you just can’t get enough of and to others…well they throw in their mouths just thinking about it.
– Guillaume de Sade