THE SHAMAN (1987) Reviews and overview



The Shaman is a 1987 American slasher horror feature film directed by Michael Yakub  from a screenplay co-written with Richard Yakub (he also provided the synth score). Thomas R. Rondinella, editor of Girl School Screams (1986) and director of Blades (1988) was the sound editor.

The movie stars Michael Conforti, James Farkas, Mike Hodge (Office Killer; Doctor Jekyll and Ms. Hyde; Blue Steel), Lynn Weaver, Michelle Kronin, Elaine Graham, Ilene Kristen (Knock Knock, 2007), Sean Ashby, Bianca Levin, Mark Folger, L. Paul Watson, Leonard Tepper (Class of Nuke ‘Em High) and Avind Harum (the guy wearing a Batman t-shirt in Frankenhooker) as The Shaman.


Two escaped convicts come across an old man camping in the woods and threaten him. The “old codger” leaves the escapees to his food and drink but swiftly and unexpectedly returns, knifing them both to death.

Later, the Shaman, as he is known, proceeds to lurk about in the shadows whilst two young couples and an Afro-American family go about their normal lives, unaware of his presence until he (inexplicably) stains some drying pillow cases with blood.

Eventually, he kidnaps Millie and informs her workaholic husband Jack that he needs his assistance to implement his “plan”. Under the Shaman’s control, Jack forces the mailman off his motorbike and kidnaps him. Having disposed of the mailman, the unlikely duo go about terrorising the neighbourhood…



Extremely obscure, and rightly so, The Shaman suffers from an unfocused mundane plot that never gets behind the vagueness of its villain’s plans for power by controlling people. Besides the four almost bloodless killings, there is almost no horror here and little reason for anyone but masochistic low budget movie addicts to bother watching.

The acting is pretty ropey at times, particularly Mark Falkas’s faltering performance, although it must be said that there are much, much worse examples of thespians struggling on film. The lame finale consists of amateurish fight scenes interspersed with much running around, before the inevitable demise of the mind-controlling, power-obsessed protagonist and a return to normalcy.

Having been gratingly ponderous for most of the movie, towards the climax of proceedings director and composer Richard Yakub’s synth ‘accompaniment’ finally descends into random noodling, as if simply got bored by his own co-scripted ‘action’ and lost interest providing aural support. If you care to venture into the nebulous world of this blue-rinsed Shaman, you are likely to be equally as numbed.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Choice dialogue:

Jack: “What are you, some kind of religious fanatic, or something?”

Filming locations:

Near the Tappan Zee Bridge, on the border of New York and New Jersey.


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Thanks to Brian Albright’s Regional Horror Films book for background information

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