SHOCKER Blu-ray Review

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The late Wes Craven wasn’t pleased with how New Line Cinema originally treated him on the A Nightmare On Elm St. deal, and it was due to Craven’s frustration that in 1989 he created one of the most bizarre horror movie characters of the 80s. The maniacal Horace Pinker was played with great commitment by Mitch Pileggi (X-Files) in the uneven but often ridiculously fun Shocker.

It takes some time for Shocker to gain it’s momentum after the fun yet cheesy opening credits with Paul Stanley’s side project, Dudes of Wrath, pumping into the soundtrack. The movie severely changes tone and often drags. Then things begin to really kick off into insanely high gear as Megadeth’s cover of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” blasts through the electric chair chamber. Cinematographer Jacques Haitkin does some impressive camera work in this scene and really gives the build up to the execution an operatic touch.

I feel that Peter Berg was slightly miscast. He doesn’t really have much personality or motivation as Jonathan other than revenge, and since his girlfriend, Allison (Camille Cooper), doesn’t last long in the movie, Berg is left playing the final girl lacking empathy and charisma. Thankfully, Mitch Pileggi as Horace Pinker is entertaining. The most interesting trait of Berg’s character are his unexplained premonitions which add a surreal quality of which Craven was certainly fond.

Once Pinker transforms into the zany electric poltergeist hell bent on upping his killing spree, Shocker borrows heavily from The Hidden, but as far as body swapping horror goes, it’s more fun here than Jason Goes To Hell. The last 20 minutes of the movie are the craziest and most memorable parts of Shocker since people often associate Horace Pinker with television teleportation.

Shocker doesn’t have any deep subtext or social commentary that you’ll often find in Craven’s work, and there are quite a few pacing issues and narrative flaws. Other than that, Shocker delivers one hell of a good time, I honestly think that was Wes Craven’s intention the whole time. Shocker wasn’t the franchise starter Craven hoped it would be — which is kind of unfortunate because this movie showed some potential for more creative lunacy and could have fixed some issues in future installments if it would have been a financial hit.

Shocker, for most of it’s 110 minutes, feels like a wacky 80s metal concert that happened to be a slasher movie. This would truly benefit from a solid midnight showing since there’s plenty of fun to be had with this movie.


Scream Factory once again delivers the goods with their collector’s edition of Shocker. There’s new audio commentary with Jacques Haitkin, co-producer Robert Engelman and composer William Goldstein. There are new interviews with Mitch Pileggi, actress Cami Cooper and executive producer Shep Gordon. The blu-ray also includes an awesome feature on the movie’s soundtrack. There are two vintage “Making of” featurettes that includes an interview and an audio commentary with Wes Craven. Last but not least, there’s some incredible artwork on the cover as well. This is definitely a worthy addition to your Scream Factory Blu-ray library.

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The Author

Sean McClannahan

Sean McClannahan

Sean McClannahan is a freelance film journalist and is the founder of Movie Time And Beyond. His passion for movies and pop culture knows no limits.