Classic Movie Review #5 - Shocker 1989

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

Written and Directed By: Wes Craven. Starring: Mitch Pileggi, Peter Berg, Camille Cooper, Ted Raimi.

It's the final year of the 80's, a decade that gave horror fans countless iconic movie villains such as Pinhead, Chucky, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kreuger to name just a few. The man behind Freddy wasn't quite done yet though, and so in 89 we were served Wes Craven's Shocker.

For the unenlightened few, Shocker told the story of Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi - The X-Files). TV repairman by day, deranged Serial Killer by night, Pinker's M.O. is to break in to houses and slaughter entire families. It's a wonder he ever found time to sleep. In true Scooby Doo fashion, Pinker would have gotten away with it if not for a meddling kid...

Unfortunately for Horace, local High School Football star, Jonathan Parker, (Peter Berg, director of Battleship, Deepwater Horizon), has started having nightmares where-upon he is witness to Pinker's crimes. Parker's Stepfather happens to be the towns Police Lieutenant who also happens to be working the Pinker case. When his investigation leads too close to solving the murders, Horace kills his and Jonathan's entire family as a, not so subtle, "fuck you". Pinker then targets and murders Jonathan's Girlfriend, Alison, (Camille Cooper - 21 Jump Street, Lawnmower Man 2).

Jonathan uses the bizarre, dream connection to help track Pinker down to his TV repair shop. A scuffle develops and just as Pinker is about to kill Jonathan, Lt Stepdad comes to the rescue and arrests Horace.

Pinker is, as you would expect, scheduled for execution and the morning of his turn in Old Smokey, Jonathan pays him a visit. Parker is informed that Pinker is in fact his biological father and that he was taken in to care because Pinker murdered his mother and siblings. Baby Jonathan, it turns out, tried to stop Daddy by shooting him in the knee, which explains Pinker's limp throughout the film. Obviously this doesn't go down too well with Parker who, freaks out a bit. A Priest visits Pinker to serve him his last rites but Pinker is pre-occupied with making a deal with Television, Satan. He then jumps the Priest and starts chewing his face off. The Guards intervene and drag Horace to the Chair, where he is put to death via electricity..

Or so they all think..

Horace did not react well to receiving his electricity bill.

The deal that Horace made with Television Satan has allowed him to inhabit the afterlife as some form of electrical apparition. Pinker can't manipulate the outside world in such a state but luckily for him he can jump into other people's bodies, allowing him to take possession of them and therefore allowing him to continue his murder spree. The only drawback to this is that he uses up the energy of the person he possesses pretty quickly, requirering him to switch from person to person with a degree of urgency. He then uses this new talent to track down Parker and finish the job.

Pinker's body jumping is incredibly entertaining. He chases down Jonathan in varied forms, ranging from a construction worker, a police Officer and at one point, a foul mouthed 10 yr old girl. Towards the climax of the film, Parker and Pinker are engaged in a chase that see's them become trapped inside the realm of TV. It's all very comical and at times completely daft, but creative none the less, as their fight takes them from partcipating in a War movie, to Leave it to Beaver, to brawling on stage in a Rock Video.

Jonathan, with the aid of the ghost of his dead girlfriend (don't ask), devises a way to trap Pinker, by making the TV his prison. Once trapped in the TV Set, Janathan's friends blow out the town's power causing a Blackout and Pinker is gone..

Really? That's it? What happens when they inevitably get the power back on? Well thats Stupid!

Shocker, realistically, is guilty of falling in to the Cheesy, 80's horror catagory. It's daft as a brush at times and there are plot holes you could drive a car in to. That being said, I really love this movie. Sure it's dumb but it's too much fun to care. I am shocked, (pun intended), that it never got a sequel considering it was released in a decade where horror franchises saturated the market with sequels.

Horace Pinker had all the qualities to become a slasher movie icon and it never came to be. Seriously, Mitch Pileggi is so good in this movie. He plays Pinker as a complete, nasty piece of shit but in a way that makes you root for the villain more than the hero. It's a shame that we never got to see more Pinker movies and that Pileggi didn't go on to play more horror anti-heroes.

I don't know how well Shocker would hold up today, if shown, for the first time to a younger audience. The effects are dated, the story is laden with chedder and it holds no real place in today's Smart tech, Social Network obsessed world. Shocker is very much a product of the time it was made. I imagine if it was to ever get a remake, it would involve jumping in and out of mobile phones to possess people through their ears. Maybe Pinker would use his powers to simply write mean things about people on Facebook. They could call it: Shocker 2 - Cyber Bullying. I realise this entire paragraph probably makes me sound old and out of touch with the youth of today. Anyway it's not a remake I want to see happen anytime soon.

If you can appreciate the classics, despite their flaws or the fact that it's badly dated, then you could find a lot to enjoy in Shocker. If the only thing that can Wow you is the very latest in extravagant CGI, then i suggest you leave it be. And I haven't even got started on the soundtrack...

As if Pinker would forget his Son's big day.