‘No more Mr. Nice Guy’
Shocker – also known as Wes Craven’s Shocker – is a 1989 American comedy horror feature film written and directed by co-producer Wes Craven (Scream; A Nightmare on Elm Street; The Hills Have Eyes). The movie stars Michael Murphy, Peter Berg, Heather Langenkamp, Cami Cooper, and Mitch Pileggi.
According to Craven, the film was severely cut for an “R” rating. It took around thirteen submissions to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to receive an “R” instead of an “X”. Some scenes that were cut included Pinker spitting out fingers that he bit off of a prison guard, a longer and more graphic electrocution of Pinker, and a longer scene of a possessed coach stabbing his hand.
The film was released by Universal Pictures on October 27, 1989 to minor commercial success, grossing over $16 million from a $5 million budget, and critical failure, having been criticized for being too derivative of Craven’s earlier film A Nightmare on Elm Street.
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A serial killer, having murdered over thirty people, is on the loose in a Los Angeles suburb. A television repairman with a pronounced limp, named Horace Pinker, becomes the prime suspect. When the investigating detective, Lt. Don Parker, gets too close, Pinker murders Parker’s wife, foster daughter, and foster son.
However, his other foster son, a college football star named Jonathan, develops a strange connection to Pinker through his dreams and leads Parker to Pinker’s rundown shop. In a shootout in which several officers are killed, Pinker manages to escape, and targets Jonathan’s girlfriend Allison in retribution.
Another dream leads Lt. Parker and the police to Pinker, whom they catch in the act of a kidnapping. This time, just as Pinker is about to kill Jonathan, he is arrested. Pinker is quickly convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair…
“Shocker feels like an almost hallucinatory trip into the world of fantastic, with Craven still walking the slasher line rather confidently. I wouldn’t call it one of the more polished efforts from the visionary director but it certainly is far more entertaining and enjoyable than many have given it credit for over the years.” Daily Dead
“Just the narrative alone is completely off-the-wall bonkers and it’s absurdly glorious. We go from a high school romance story to a gritty serial murderer’s killing spree to a tale of black magic life after death followed by a literal chase through TV Land. There’s a reason why Doctor Timothy Leary makes a cameo in the film, and that’s not even a joke!” CHUD.com
“The primary gimmick is quite silly—a serial killer made of electricity—but it allows for a few inventive scenarios, particularly Pinker’s body-hopping and an extended sequence where he is actually absorbed into the broadcast TV programming. Shocker is more over-the-top goofy than scary, but it’s a good deal of fun and the special effects hold up pretty well after a quarter century.” Under the Radar
“Moving beyond mere whimsy into preposterousness, Shocker gets points for the loopy audacity of its narrative and some particularly moody cinematography from Jacques Haitkin, but simply doesn’t work consistently enough to be more than sporadically effective.” The BluFile
“Noisy (the soundtrack is ‘80s hair metal) and incredible even before Pinker’s execution (nobody in the story’s small-town seems overly alarmed by the fact that multiple families have been massacred), Shocker is thoroughly wick-wick-wack, but it’s certainly distinctive.” The Commercial Appeal
“Shocker, alas, ranks among his absolute worst, with his attempt to create another enduring villain like A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Krueger falling woefully flat … Badly written and poorly paced, Shocker also suffers from the sort of broad humor best suited for a Looney Tunes cartoon. Pileggi goes deliberately over the top as Pinker, and it ain’t pretty to watch.” Creative Loafing
“The emotional shit that Jonathan puts up with from Pinker (who even kills his girlfriend) drains the viewer…hard not to feel for the guy. While the story recycles many Elm Street ideas, the look of the movie is what really works. I give credit to long time horror cinematographer Jacques Haitkin.” Arrow in the Head
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-Audio Commentary with director of photography Jacques Haitkin, co-producer Robert Engelman, and composer William Goldstein
-Cable Guy – An all-new interview with actor Mitch Pileggi
-Alison’s Adventures – An interview with actress Cami Coope
-It’s Alive – An interview with executive producer Shep Gordon
-No More Mr. Nice Guy – The Music of “Shocker”, featuring interviews with music supervisor Desmond Child and soundtrack artists Bruce Kulik (KISS), Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys), Kane Roberts (Alice Cooper) , and Dave Ellefson (Megadeth)
-Audio Commentary with writer/director Wes Craven
-Two Vintage Making of Shocker featurettes including an interview with Wes Craven
-Original Storyboard Gallery
Cast and characters:
- Michael Murphy as Lt. Don Parker
- Peter Berg as Jonathan Parker
- Mitch Pileggi as Horace Pinker
- Camille Cooper as Alison Clemens
- Sam Scarber as Sidney Cooper
- Richard Brooks as Rhino
- Ted Raimi as Roy “Pac-Man” Stewart