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Shocker (1989)

Written & Directed by Wes Craven

By the time Wes Craven had come out with Shocker, we had received five installments of a Nightmare on Elm Street, staring Robert Englund. Having developed a natural flair for the macabre, he would go on to play the character a couple more times and in the long run, transform into one of the genre’s biggest icons. Leaving a sour taste in Wes’ mind for the simple fact that he wanted to create a different character that could give ol Freddy a good run at a franchise.
Starting out as an idea for a television series entitled Dream Stalker, with elements from his other works present throughout. Using a variation on his mode of entering dreams to create Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi); just your average homicidal maniac who practiced black magic and animal sacrifice. Yet having a twist to the storyline that did make for a nice compromise but otherwise passive addition to the Craven films. Ensuring the antagonist was backed with enough cheesy 80’s rock music to make a low budget movie with all the aspects you liked on Elm Street, just packed as though a rip-off of the before franchises already sterling reputation.

While the similarities (from this and NOES) are as varied from the most obvious, wherein your able to fall asleep on command and semi control your dreams. To how both fathers of the leads are Officers; both killers dawning in murders executed with a comedic fashion. With variances being that instead of killing using his dreams, due to his recent trip to the electric chair, he’d able to travel through various sources of energy. Jonathon, able to enter Horace’s dreams, did so only due to a connection not detailed until well late in the film. His attempted taunts towards the killer and way of trying to convince his father of what he knew to be true in the end all seemed too silly for myself. Though nothing they could certainly expect to take off into its own series. Because at the end of the day, Nightmare on Elm Street was just too good. Pileggi as our antagonist, gave a rather entertaining performance with more shockingly bad one liners then you could possibly imagine and a distinguishing limp that I didn‘t feel worked for the character. Though funny enough I didn’t dislike the film entirely, despite all the dry, sarcastic nuances detected.

The plot itself follows Jonathan (Peter Berg), whose “fantastic” abilities in Football no doubt provided him with some sort of scholarship (please say its so), for allowing to live in such a house. While only a Junior at Mid-Western Tech; wait…you mean this film doesn’t concern a bunch of High School kids? Which I mention because if not for the mention itself, you otherwise wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Which either says something about the level of acting or quality of the script. Which may have sadly been a little of both in this case. However, may also be a case where a particular Actor (in this case Berg) may just be better off as a Director than where his career started out in the beginning. I digress. Taken from his home at the age of seven, Jonathan seemed a good enough kid with all the right intentions. Whatever they may have been geared towards. Dating his on again off again girlfriend Alison (Camille Cooper) though in the midst of his tragedy endured at the beginning of the film, is able to preserve as a means of helping find the man behind the thirty something deaths responsibly for in their town. Alison only able to speak in ghastly harsh whispers that became more annoying as the film progressed; worse after she returned as a spirit to assist in Jonathon’s avenging.

For after the execution stunt, we discover a cat and mouse game between the main characters in which reaches a variety of extremes. Discovering the jump Pinker could make from one body to the next. Coming together with his Coach and football buddies for what seemed one disastrous plan after another to thwart out his intentions. Back in his house despite the terrible murder that had happened a handful of days ago when Horace gets to his father and a showdown occurs atop the information super highway (Cable Guy Ref)-well, you get the idea. Naturally, at this point having lost everyone close to him, he’s able to realize the bounds of which Pinker had sold his soul. Able to gain control and use his remote for a little revenge. Unable at this point to control any laughter subsided. Ending rather abruptly and with a sour taste in ones mouth, there was certainly no need to see what a possible sequel could produce.