A murderous TV repairman, Horace Pinker is killing people in a small town left, right and center. He eventually finds the home of Lt. Parker, who is investigating his crimes, and savagely murders Parker's wife, son and daughter. His other son, Jonathan has a strange connection to Pinker through his dreams, and he directs his father to Pinker's business, where a small group of officers enter. Pinker escapes in a horrific spree, killing four officers and then targeting Jonathan's girlfriend, Alison. Another dream leads Jonathan and his dad to a residence where they catch Pinker in in the act of kidnapping. Pinker is arrested after a fight with Jonathan and sentenced to die in the electric chair. When executed, Pinker - who supposedly had given his soul to the devil in exchange for the power to come back as an energy source - takes over people's bodies and continues committing murders, until Jonathan devises a plan to bring Pinker into the real world, and then cut off his power source... Written by
Wes Cravens' "Shocker" is often one of the more derided in the directors' career, but in this own reviewers' humble opinion, it still manages to be pretty entertaining, even as it gets awfully silly and keeps wavering between a serious, sombre tone and an insane, over the top one. It doesn't help that it's too obvious that Craven was trying to create another Freddy Krueger in the form of raving maniac Horace Pinker, a savage psychopath played to foaming-at-the-mouth perfection by Mitch Pileggi, eventually to become better known for playing Skinner on 'The X-Files'.
Pinker's on the loose, slaughtering whole families, but opposing him is college football star Jonathan Parker (a remarkably sincere Peter Berg), a nice guy who was raised by a police lieutenant (Michael Murphy). Jonathan and Horace, who are connected in a way that the younger man doesn't anticipate, are also psychically linked, and Jonathan is able to give the cops his name and place of business and before too long the killer is caught and executed.
But the story doesn't end there, as Pinker, in league with Satan, "survives" the electric chair and lives on to overtake various unlucky people and control their bodies, including, in the movies' most memorable sequence, a little girl. How can one hold in their laughter watching this blonde haired moppet curse like a sailor, and try to operate a bulldozer?
Ultimately, the movie is a little too absurd for its own good, but damn if it doesn't have some good atmosphere, show off some amusing ideas, and go overboard on the bloodshed. One particular murder scene is just drenched in the red stuff. One of the methods used to combat Horace is pure corn, involving Jonathans' love for girlfriend Alison (Camille Cooper) and an all-important locket. The best stuff is the wonderfully ridiculous climax in which a rampaging Horace and Jonathan run amok through TV programming (they end up in an episode of 'Leave it to Beaver' where Jonathan pleads for the Beavers' help). This does show some invention, and the special effects are effectively cheesy. (One has to love the "You got it, baby!" moment.)
The cast is extremely game throughout this thing; also popping up are Ted Raimi as an assistant coach, Vincent Guastaferro ("Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI") as a victimized cop, Heather Langenkamp in a tiny, non-speaking cameo as a murder victim, Richard Brooks ('Law and Order') as football player Rhino, Ernie Lively as the warden, rock guitarist Kane Roberts also doing the cameo thing as a road worker, and Cravens' kids Jessica and Jonathan in bits. The heavy metal soundtrack adds to the fun.
Overall, this may not be something this reviewer would necessarily consider "good", but it's still something of a hoot, and may keep some people watching out of sheer disbelief.
Six out of 10.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?