Shocker (1989)

Before the internet, movies used to get sold at conventions and they’d give away pins and t-shirts after showing trailers. I had a Shocker shirt that I wore before the movie even came out and man, did I learn my lesson.

Here’s where I upset a good chunk of people by saying that outside of his TV movies, the first Freddy and The People Under the Stairs, I dislike just about everything that Wes Craven ever did.  His films feel pretty lazy to me and like the work of someone who had no interest in doing horror. Shocker is another cash-in on his part, an attempt to make a new slasher villain who, well, acts pretty much exactly like Freddy Krueger.

Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi) is that killer and he starts the movie by killing off Heather Langenkamp, pretty much using that whole old wrestling logic of jobbing out someone else’s archrival just to get over a new heel who will never really draw like the original. He also kills the entire family of Lt. Don Parker (Michael Murphy), except for his foster son Jonathan (Peter Berg, yes, the man who would go on to direct Friday Night Lights).

For some reason, Jonathan and Horace have a mental connection, which doesn’t help when the murderer kills the football star’s girl Alison. However, the dream world — umm, yes, this is not an Elm Street movie — leads Jonathan to Pinker who is executed in the chair but ends up escaping, just like House 3 (AKA The Horror Show). Or Prison. Or Destroyer. They all came out before Shocker.

In another example of “because horror movies,” Jonathan is Pinker’s son and the villain has sold his soul to Satan to keep killing via electricity, which is not as cool as getting to sniff Satanic cocaine like the similarly themed El Violador Infernal.

This is the kind of movie where you get bored and instead play spot the cameo of people like former Alice Cooper guitarist Kane Roberts or Ted Raimi or Dr. Timothy Leary.

Of course, no Wes Craven non-blockbuster — well, it did make triple its budget — would be complete without an excuse. This time, it’s the MPAA’s fault for cutting out all the gore.

Shocker was probably best known in my teenage years as providing the soundtrack in which Megadeth covered Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” as well as a title song from The Dudes of Wrath, a metal supergroup made up of The Dudes of Wrath, a supergroup composed of Paul Stanley and Desmond Child on vocals, Vivian Campbell and Guy Mann-Dude on guitars, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Tommy Lee on drums and Michael Anthony and Kane Roberts singing back up. Dangerous Toys also submitted a song about the movie, so there’s that.

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