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A serial killer is causing mayhem somewhere in Los Angeles and the detective in charge of the case, Lieutenant Parker, believes it is a television repairman called Horace Pinker. When Parker becomes too dangerously close for Pinker's liking, Pinker kills Parker's family, apart from his step-son, Jonathan Parker. Jonathan, devastated by his step-family's murder is besieged by dreams in which he constantly comes up against Pinker; the link between them is further exacerbated when Pinker murders Jonathan's girlfriend. Pinker is eventually caught and put on death row for the murders. Unfortunately, he has done a deal with the devil, so that when he is electrocuted, he doesn't die, but instead gains the ability to enter other people's bodies as a type of electrical channel, thereby controlling them. Is there anything that Jonathan can do to to catch and control Pinker?
Directed by Wes Craven and released in 1989, I was surprised to find that I hadn't even heard of this film - the Nightmare on Elm Street films clearly eclipsed it. That is probably for a very good reason. It's not the worst horror I've ever seen, but the acting is wooden and the story is incredibly silly in a way that ultimately makes it a lot less memorable and frightening than the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Nevertheless, if you're a fan of horror films, then it is worth seeing, because it is entertaining.
Jonathan Parker, the lead role, is played by Peter Berg, and it has to be said he is universally awful throughout the film - mixed in with the ridiculous plot, however, this comes across as being quite funny and therefore highly entertaining. Everything Berg does appears forced. At the beginning of the film, he tries to show what a klutz Jonathan is, walking into goalposts and falling over things that most people couldn't miss. The aim is for him to look cute so that his love interest, Allison, will fall for him, but he just looks like an idiot and the relationship with Allison is so forced that it is painful to watch. At least he looks good! Berg has done a fair amount of acting since; I can only hope that he has improved as he went along, because judging by this, serious acting is not his strongpoint.
Much better is Mitch Pileggi as Horace Pinker. Again, it's hard to take the role too seriously though. Pinker is so evil, spitting invectives into everyone's face, always with an evil smile on his face so that the audience just knows he is not going to be easy to finish off. He is particularly fond of choice words of abuse, of which 'sucker' is the most polite I can write here. What I really enjoyed though was watching him pass into other people's bodies and seeing them take on his attributes - the little girl who swore like a trooper was perhaps going a bit too far (although I did laugh), but a lady and friendly football coach were really quite funny. The other actor worth mentioning is Michael Murphy as Lieutenant Parker. He wasn't very good, but he does have quite a pivotal role, and is quite funny to watch for his complete lack of acting skills.
The story really is terrible and there is little attempt to cover this up. There's a real mixture of serial killer drama and the supernatural - and it's probably the supernatural element that makes it so funny. This is largely because the special effects are so dreadful. Watching Pinker become electrocuted via a television, so that he is then able to enter other people's bodies via an electrical current is just not at all realistic. Nor is Allison's reappearance as a ghost. I appreciate that the film was made back in 1989, but I've seen films made before this that were way better - Poltergeist immediately springs to mind. The film was made on a budget and this is all too obvious. Had the effects not been quite so bad, this film would have been an awful lot better, although it may not have been so funny. It was the comedy that kept me watching, but I like humour in my horrors, whereas not everyone does.
This is a horror film and there are some very nasty moments that merit the classification of 18. The most horrifying time is probably during the electroction scene. Pinker is all set up to be electrocuted, in his chair with the head gear on etc, and then the lever is pulled down. There is a great deal of apparently burning flesh and indeed, Pinker's head is in a terrible state, even though he does not die (this happens quite early on, so I'm not giving too much away). I can imagine that children would find this very distressing, and a number of adults are not going to like it either. Apart from that, there are multiple stabbings throughout the film and there is a lot of swearing, so definitely not for those who don't like that sort of thing.
If you're into heavy metal, there's quite a reasonable sound track accompanying the film. I wasn't familiar with any of the tracks, but recognised the performers, including Megadeth and Iggy Pop. It's loud and aggressive and it fits the film very well.
There are just a couple of extras - the theatrical trailer and storyboards (the plot in pictures).
I'm glad I've seen this film; I like Wes Craven's work in general and it is good to have an overall picture of what he has done. Having said that, this is definitely not his best attempt at horror, and is only saved by the fact that he didn't try to make it too serious and a twist in the tale that comes towards the end. The twist should have been obvious, but I didn't see it coming and it was a good one. I think anyone who likes horror, especially budget horror, will probably want to see this at some point; anyone else will probably want to stay well clear. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £3.99.
Running time: 109 minutes
Director: Wes Craven
Producers: Barin Kumar, Marianne Maddalena and Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Stars: Mitch Pileggi, Peter Berg, Michael Murphy and Camille Cooper
Originally released in 1989, given an 18 certificate and going onto DVD ten years later, this hour and fifty minute movie bends the realms of electrical reality to bring out one hell of a fast paced movie.
Craven had tried to make this the first in a long running saga involving Horace Pinker, hoping to follow the success of his Nigthmare on Elm Street series, but this movie was the one and only, possibly the main reason why it became a bit of a cult classic.
Like most people out there I do like a good horror, especially with Cravens signature on it, such as 'The people under the stairs', 'The Hills Have eyes' and even the Elm Street comedies...sorry, horrors. So I was sure that this movie would be of the same calibre and I was quite happy to watch this when it first came out back in the late eighties. But as the plot began to unfold I realised that I may have made a bit of a mistake in my choice of viewing, causing my mind to suppress it for years, until a few months back when I came across a cheap DVD of it in a bargain bucket at my local shop.
So, knowing I had seen it but unable to remember if I enjoyed it I grabbed the copy and headed off home in the hope of relaxing in front of the box with a few beers and a half decent movie.
Unfortunately, as the plot unravelled once again, I soon realised why my mind had suppressed it for so nearly two decades.
** BRIEF PLOT...
After multiple murders, including police officers, women and even children, Serial killer Horace Pinker, (Mitch Pileggi) is finally caught by Detective Lieutenant Don Parker, (Michael Murphy), with the help of his son Jonathan, (Peter Berg), and is sent to the electric chair for his crimes.
But as Pinker has made his own deal with the devil he vows to return and seek revenge on those who brought him to justice, So as his body writhers as the electricity flows through him his soul becomes entangled in the electricity supply, allowing Pinker to keep to his word, with the power to possess anyone and everyone.
So, with Pinkers electrical soul on the loose, now even more dangerous than ever, Jonathon has to find a way to stop him, with the help of Allison, (Camille Cooper), his girlfriend, with a plan which is out of this world.
** IN CONCLUSION...
Unfortunately, the title of this movie really does say it all... it IS a shocker, and not in a good way either. It is not one of the best horror movies on the market by far and it is not a surprise that this was a one off, unlike the Elm Street sagas.
The opening scenes are quite good, maybe a little gripping in fact, showing some nice action and thrills as the hunt for the big bald serial killer progresses, looking like the movie could be one of Cravens better ones, but this action stops before it really gets going once Pinker is caught and brought to justice in the way only the U.S. know how, making the movie go down hill quicker than a greased gym shoe on a freshly polished slide.
In fact, I can safely say that the movie becomes so incredibly stupid that you may find yourself becoming slightly engrossed, almost mesmerised, in the hope of something scary actually happening. Unfortunately, this is not to be as the more the plot unravels the more utterly stupid it becomes.
There are many scenes, especially the 'chase' scenarios towards the end, which just seem to have been written by a child with a severs drug dependency, trying to force the viewing public to believe that this massive man mountain called Horace Pinker could end up being flushed around your local power station.
The comical chase scenes with Pinker and Berg as they find themselves appearing on several different television shows are the likes with which Matt Groaning would be proud of with Itchy and Scratchy.
Even the acting is a little 'iffy', although Pileggi does look the part as the psycho with an electric personality and lack of hair, but even his looks are no compensation for his rather tacky, wooden performance. But as for the rest, well, Murphy looks like he was rejected from a 1960's cop show, his acting still not improved. Berg comes across as a typical adrenalin fuelled youngster with a fear of nothing, apart from good acting maybe, and even Cooper, with her lovely smile, could not deflect the fact that her role in this 'pudding' of a movie was a bit of a let down, being a little on the cheesy side.
The special effects are beyond a joke, even for the late 80's, and there are many movies at the time with a lot better effects, such as the fly, the howling and even the Burbs, so why was this one so badly made?
In all, if you want to have a bit of a laugh with out frightening those around you then this is the movie for you, but if you want a good scary horror then avoid this like the plague, go for something more frightening, maybe something like Bob the builder or even the Teletubbies.
If you do want to get a copy of this movie, maybe to see if your taste in good horror movies differs to mine, then get over to amazon and get one for just over £7.
Storyboard vs. Film Scenes
Audio-commentary by director Wes Craven
Shocker by The Dudes of Wrath
Sword and Stone by Bonfire
No more Mr Nice Guy by Megadeth
Timeless Love by Saraya
Demon Bell/the balled of Horace pinker by Dangerous Toys
Love Transfusion by Iggy Pop
Different Breed by Dead On
NOTE: There is supposed to be a remake of this 1989 version which will be made in 2009 with Henry Rollins as Pinker... God help us all.
i haven't got any points so please read this!!!! 'Shocker' was basically an attempt by wes Craven to give the world another horror franchise with another gimmicky maniac. He wasn't anywhere near as successful as he was with the legendary pop-culture figure Freddy Kruger, but this film has both gore and laughs to offer the horror fan. The plot concerns Horace Pinker, television repair man by day, multiple murderer by night. After being finally caught, he is sentenced and duly executed in the electric chair. However, this turns out merely be the start of his crimes, as he is transformed into some weird, unspecified electro man, who also has the handy power to posess people, jumping from body to body. set against him is the decidedly wimpy Jonathan, who seems to have some bizarro connection with the killer, and often finds himself 'seeing' the murders as and before they happen, a trait which leads the police to suspect him of the dreadful deeds. As the bodies pile up, Pinker and Jonathan become locked together in deadly battle.......... Nothing new, right ? Well thats true, but the film is still plenty of fun. PInker, played by Mitch Phileggi (Skinner from the X-Files) is an amusingly over the top buffoon who belows his way through the role, and although it was obvious he never had the charisma that propelled Jason Voorhees and The Shape through so many adventures, he's good value as a one off psycho. There's plenty of action, and ol' Wes as usual delivers the gore goods, in particular with one great lip ripping scene. There are also lots of laughs, although admittedly some of them are unintentional: like when Pinker posesses a little girl, who turns foul-mouthed, and adopts his crazy limp. As with any posession pic, there are geat scenes of characters wrestling to control the evil spirit, for exmple by grappling with their own hands when he tries to make them murder. I guess no-one could e
ver accuse this film of being suspenseful or atmospheric, but, hey, what do you expect ? The effects themselves are pretty good, especially in the amusing end scene, and overall they help to make the film move along briskly. Overall, if you are a horror fan, this is a good, solid genre entry. There is plenty of action, its never boring and its 5 by 5 for entertainment. Its a great film for geting some beers in with your buddies, and thats as good a reccommendation as any.
'Shocker' was basically an attempt by wes Craven to give the world another horror franchise with another gimmicky maniac. He wasn't anywhere near as successful as he was with the legendary pop-culture figure Freddy Kruger, but this film has both gore and laughs to offer the horror fan. The plot concerns Horace Pinker, television repair man by day, multiple murderer by night. After being finally caught, he is sentenced and duly executed in the electric chair. However, this turns out merely be the start of his crimes, as he is transformed into some weird, unspecified electro man, who also has the handy power to posess people, jumping from body to body. set against him is the decidedly wimpy Jonathan, who seems to have some bizarro connection with the killer, and often finds himself 'seeing' the murders as and before they happen, a trait which leads the police to suspect him of the dreadful deeds. As the bodies pile up, Pinker and Jonathan become locked together in deadly battle.......... Nothing new, right ? Well thats true, but the film is still plenty of fun. PInker, played by Mitch Phileggi (Skinner from the X-Files) is an amusingly over the top buffoon who belows his way through the role, and although it was obvious he never had the charisma that propelled Jason Voorhees and The Shape through so many adventures, he's good value as a one off psycho. There's plenty of action, and ol' Wes as usual delivers the gore goods, in particular with one great lip ripping scene. There are also lots of laughs, although admittedly some of them are unintentional: like when Pinker posesses a little girl, who turns foul-mouthed, and adopts his crazy limp. As with any posession pic, there are geat scenes of characters wrestling to control the evil spirit, for exmple by grappling with their own hands when he tries to make them murder. I guess no-one could ever accuse this film of being suspenseful or atmospheric, but,
hey, what do you expect ? The effects themselves are pretty good, especially in the amusing end scene, and overall they help to make the film move along briskly. Overall, if you are a horror fan, this is a good, solid genre entry. There is plenty of action, its never boring and its 5 by 5 for entertainment. Its a great film for geting some beers in with your buddies, and thats as good a reccommendation as any.
Wes Craven directed this eighties classic which has been copyed and imitated ever since horrace pinker multiple murderer ,lunatic and basicaly not a nice guy is finaly captured and put to death via the electric chair so its over write (wrong). Pinker played with gusto buy X files Mitch Pileggi returns from the grave with the ability to travel through electrical currents, tv signals and is now able to take over the bodys of other people at will (which includes a young profanity spouting girl). Now invincible he carries on where he left off and is determined to bring down the perpetrator in his capture who just happens to be pinkers long lost son also starring Craven favourites Heather Langenkamp Peter Berg and a cameo by Alice Cooper.
Wes Craven's Shocker takes media manipulation to a new level in this story of an evil force emitted from television sets that has the power to kill. The film centers on high school athlete Jonathan Parker (Peter Berg). His estranged father is homicide detective Don Parker (Michael Murphy), who has been working on capturing an elusive serial killer plaguing the town. One night, during a particularly vivid nightmare, Jonathan dreams that while Parker is away on an assignment, his family is murdered by the serial killer. In the dream, Jonathan can identify the killer -- local television repairman Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi). Amazingly, it turns out that Jonathan's nightmare was reality. Using Jonathan's dream as evidence, Pinker is brought to trail, found guilty, and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Before his execution, Pinker makes a pact with the devil so when he is electrocuted, the electricity from the chair will give his spirit powers of evil. At first, Pinker's murderous spirit travels in and out of people's bodies, prompting the host to commit murder. But when it seems more effective to communicate with people by television signals, the spirit is willing and soon people suddenly become possessed by Pinker's spirit through TV screens and engage in murderous atrocities. All this is done by Pinker to exact retribution upon Jonathan, who was responsible for sending him to his death.
Shocker allows Wes Craven to hang onto his title as the master of the horror genre--but only just. Centring once more on a charismatic lead character (Horace Pinker) Shocker continues Craven's penchant for combining fantasy and horror. Pinker (played with zeal by Mitch Pileggi of X-Files fame) is a serial killer--the "family slasher"--terrorising the inhabitants of the city of. Having murdered the foster family and girlfriend of all-American boy Jonathon Parker (Peter Berg), the latter finds he can foresee Pinker's actions in his dreams. The resulting supernatural developments (including ghosts, magic charms and possessed bodies) are more than a little muddled but underpinned by the continuous gruesome hack and slash action. A film with its brain most definitely disengaged, Shocker is still undemanding, wince-inducing fun. On the DVD: Not much to offer from this format. The splendidly dated 1980's American heavy metal soundtrack (including Kiss and Megadeth) comes through loud and clear and the sound effects are certainly horribly audible. Picture quality is fine but not spectacular. Extras are limited to scene selection, the trailer and a selection of storyboards and their cinematic equivalents. --Phil Udell