Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle


Grade : C- Year : 1989 Director : Wes Craven Running Time : 1hr 50min Genre : , ,
Movie review score

Up until this point, there’s only one moment in Wes Craven’s 1989 thriller, “Shocker,” that I was acutely aware of. The only reason I’ve known about the movie at all was because, for a time, my mother had a crush on Mitch Pileggi, who plays the film’s serial killer, Horace Pinker, based on his work on “The X-Files.” She had to show me this moment, because it’s, frankly, too loopy to not share- if you’ve already seen the movie, you probably know the one I’m talking about, and it takes place near the end of the film when Pinker, who has survived his date with the electric chair through the use of dark magic, is ready to kill Jonathan Parker, the high school athlete played by Peter Berg who is the reason he got caught. Pinker has survived to become a demon capable of moving between bodies, and later, energy sources, to continue his reign of terror. In this particular moment, he captures Jonathan by possessing his recliner, allowing Pileggi to utter the immortal phrase, “This BarcaLounger’s gonna kick your ass, boy!” The film only gets weirder from there as it races to its conclusion.

The film was clearly designed by writer-director Craven, who passed away last year, to introduce a new unique horror villain to the genre after he was responsible for Freddy Kreuger in “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” But sadly, Pinker is no Freddy, Berg’s Jonathan is no Nancy, and “Shocker” is not top-shelf Craven. We’re not talking “Cursed” or “My Soul to Take” levels of failure from the iconic horror director- the last 20 minutes is frankly too entertaining in how bizarre it is for that- but this isn’t the same filmmaker who made Freddy a legend or turned the genre on its ear with the “Scream” franchise, either. He has an interesting idea for the film, but it’s honestly too goofy to be taken seriously as a horror concept. The actors do their best, and the film has all the elements that made the ’80s a fun time to be a moviewatcher, but it just doesn’t really cut it as classic Craven. Still, that last act of the movie? I could watch that all day and be thoroughly entertained.

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