With the sad news recently of the passing of horror legend Wes Craven, we are reminded that these geniuses of film will not be with us forever. Fans didn’t know of Craven’s illness and his death came as a shock not only to fans but also to the entire entertainment world. Comedian and musician Fred Armisen even wore a Freddy Krueger glove and red and green striped tie to the Emmy’s in tribute. And as usually happens when a beloved artist passes on, we all set out to rediscover his work. Nightmare on Elm St marathons have been going on, new attention to his non-horror film Music from the Heart and renewed love for his lesser known films. This week Shout! Factory releases a new Blu-ray edition of his 80s cult classic Shocker.
Jonathan Parker (Peter Berg) is an all-American kid whose mother and siblings have just been murdered by serial killer Horace Pinker. And Jonathan saw it all in a vision. When his police lieutenant father catches Pinker and sends him to the electric chair, they think their troubles are over. But thanks to a ritual Pinker performed in his cell he has been granted life after death in the form of an electrical entity that can inhabit any body. Now Jonathan must use his visions to find a way to stop Pinker once and for all.
Shocker was pretty much written off by critics upon its initial release as being a rip off of Craven’s own A Nightmare on Elm St and it does have much in common. Switching back and forth between reality and another realm, visions, murder. But Shocker was aiming to be a much more fun movie than Craven’s other work. And in that it succeeds. Berg is great as the lead and X-Files alum Mitch Pileggi is having so much fun as Pinker it is contagious. The kills are inventive and gory and the silliness is ever present but never overwhelming. The body possessing switcheroo’s and the over the top finale involving Berg and Pileggi running through TV shows as they channel hop trying to kill each other are so much fun you simply cannot deny it. Craven crafted a horror film of its time being quite a bit ahead of its time in portraying the evils of modern technology. Shocker is a blast from start to finish.
As usual with Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Editions, Shocker is packed full with amazing special features. A brand new audio commentary with director of photography Jacques Haitkin, co-producer Robert Engelman and composer William Goldstein, new interviews with Mitch Pileggi, Cami Cooper, and Shep Gordon (awesome!), a new documentary about the music of Shocker, and a host of other special features from previous editions. For Craven fans or just fans of great 80s horror, this new edition of Shocker is worth every penny. Highly recommended.