On October 2, at 6:45 AM mass murderer Horace Pinker was put to death. Now, he's really mad.
Year of Release: 1989
Running Time: 109 minutes (1:49)
Director: Wes Craven
Peter Berg ... Jonathan Parker
Mitch Pileggi ... Horace Pinker
Michael Murphy ... Lt. Don Parker
Sam Scarber ... Cooper
Camille Cooper ... Alison
Richard Brooks ... Rhino
Ted Raimi ... Pac Man
John Tesh ... TV Newscaster
Heather Langenkamp ... Victim
Jessica Craven ... Counterperson
Jonathan Craven ... Jogger
Wes Craven ... Man Neighbor
Brent Spiner ... Talkshow guest (uncredited)
Master of horror Wes Craven directs this exciting visual treat which introduces a diabolical mass murderer who harnesses electricity for unimaginable killing powers. About to be electrocuted for a catalog of heinous crimes, the unrepentant Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi) transforms into a terrifying energy source. Only young athlete Jonathan Parker (Peter Berg), with an uncanny connection to Pinker through bizarre dreams, can fight the powerful demon. The two dive in and out of television programs, chasing each other from channel to channel through stunning scenes of disaster, game shows and old reruns. A blend of dazzling special effects, jolting humor and an electrifying soundtrack, Shocker is an ironic tale of terror and madness in the video age.
Wes Craven's Shocker... cause apparently we didn't already have enough reasons to cancel cable TV. To be fair, having Mitch Pileggi hop outta the screen an start stabbin' you is still not as painful as watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I think it's pretty clear who both loves and hates this one. Guys on Death Row love it, naturally. If you're inclined to take out your frustration on people with the aid of kitchen utensils, who wouldn't love another chance after a visit to Ole Sparky? Equally obvious, bleeding heart liberals hate it on account of poor Mitch gettin' railroaded by our cruel an unjust justice system. A few counseling sessions an he could have been completely rehabilitated, but no. He gets the chair just for killing 127 people. Fascists. What I offer you, the reader, is the group of people who neither love nor hate, but are VINDICATED by Shocker. The pioneering souls who even in this day and age, remain off the grid. No serial killers coming in through their electrical outlets, they aren't connected to anything but their own power source. And while you'd hardly even blink at the prospect of it, who ever heard of a serial killer getting in through your generator, solar panels or windmill? Not gonna happen. They are completely and utterly safe, while you and I risk mutilation day in and day out, via the wall outlet that sits not 10 feet away from us at any given time. Sure, the off the gridders can't use a TV for more than about 3 hours. And they may not be able to fry up a hamburger without trudging out to the generator shed an jerkin' the pull rope 47 times until it revs up. But they have something you and I will never have: peace of mind. And you can't put a price on that. Alrighty, well, as the finest movie to merge the plots from Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hidden and feature obligatory cameos by Wes Craven's children, you might wanna pay attention to this next part, as I dredge up knowledge, submitted for your consideration. First thing you're gonna need to know if you're the outdoorsy type: concussions cause precognitive dreaming. Sometimes helpful, sometimes horrible. Afterall, it's good to be able to cheat death, but on the other hand, every night when you go to sleep, you know you're gonna wake up knowing exactly what the prospect of a new day brings. It's like that asshole friend everybody has that won't quit spoilin' the ending to things even though they know it makes you wanna pound 'em in the head with a claw hammer.
Second, the length of time prisoners sit on Death Row is greatly exaggerated in the real world. Mitch Pileggi gets captured, sentenced, an executed all before Peter Berg's hair even gets a chance to grow out. So for all you people whining about how expensive it is to keep prisoners locked up for 20 years before their execution? Don't bother getting worked up, it's all just an elaborate ruse to fool the bleeding hearts into thinking there's still time to save them. An third, dead girlfriends are extremely useful for retrieving lost talismans. So while I'm not recommending you kill your girlfriend just so you won't have to worry about finding your keys every morning, it is worth considering if the unthinkable should happen. Now, something I wanna talk about that's left me in a complete state of confusion is the role of electricity in soul transference. As you've probably already read in the Child's Play review, lightning can be extremely hazardous to a soul transfer. I know, I've heard people claiming the soul transfer brings about the lightning, just like you have. But what those jack wagons fail to realize is that whether that's true or not, you don't want your new body gettin' deep fried while you're climbin' in. So cause an effect aren't really relevant here, fact remains, it's dangerous. Or so I thought. Having watched Shocker, I really don't know what to think anymore. Cause for Mitch Pileggi, the electrical aspect is not only not all that dangerous, it seems integral to the process. Without the blessing of Raiden, you're not body hoppin' at all. I've looked into breakin' the tie by lookin' at the film makers' credentials, but that doesn't do any good because, while Child's Play is the better movie, Wes Craven is the better director. I really pride myself on bringing you the facts as they relate to these movies, and as such, I can no longer in good conscience stand by my previous comments about optimal soul transference locations previously mentioned in the Child's Play review. I don't want that kinda thing hangin' over my head should something go wrong with your transfer while operating under my instructions. So what I recommend is to consult with your deity before makin' any plans, that way, we all end up winners. In the meantime, I'll be trying to work through this confusion and hopefully come to some conclusion that takes everything into account, but that still makes sense, an I apologize to anyone that may have encountered difficulty in their soul transference as a result of my instructions.
The movie begins with an angry, faceless man screwin' around with the guts of his TV set. It's not hard to understand while he's angry, afterall you can see he's got molten plastic drippin' onto his foot an sparks singein' off his eyebrows. In the background, one of his 177 TV sets is providing exposition about how there's a killer on the loose an how he's so clever an sneaky that the police couldn't catch him if he wore a belt of donuts an dripped coffee from his nipples. Elsewhere, a jock (Jonathan) that spends most of his time thinking with his jock, is practicing his ball handling skills while tryin' to run the bootleg option an stare at his girlfriend (Alison) on the sidelines all at once. To be fair, he's really not all that dumb when you consider that the average jock gets tripped up tryin' to do just two things at once an it takes three before he gets completely boggled. But tripped up he gets when his buddy, Rhino, gores him outta his cleats after he can't figure out which end zone to pay attention to. Then the coach comes up an tears him a new asshole about how great he could be if he'd just quit thinkin' about anything but football an after the coach takes about a half a bottle of antacids, they resume practice. This time, Jonathan's completely in the game. He's so in the game that after he tricks Rhino into lookin' at his hooves, he blows by him, makes the reception, and blocks out everything but the goal post. Unfortunately, that's kind of a problem if you don't stop before you get there, an after he leaves a face print in the post he needs to lay down for a minute until his brains stop ricochetin' around in his head. Next thing you know, he's walkin' home with Alison an when he heads into his house she vanishes. She does that sometimes, it's just something he's come to accept about their relationship. What's unusual, is that upon entering the house, his siblings are a lot deader than he remembers an when he hears his mother screaming upstairs he runs up to find Mitch Pileggi drawin' a big smiley face on her throat with a kitchen knife. About that time he bolts up in bed, marginally more confused than normal, but then the phone rings an it's his Dad (Who's both a private, and a public Dick) tellin' him that his (foster) family got sliced up into cold cuts an that he'd better come check out the crime scene so he can develop some serious psychological trauma. The next morning, Jonathan invites Dad to a cafe so he can unload his story about how he dreamed about the murders while they were happening. Unfortunately, Dad's not a very good detective, an even though the kid can provide details about the crime, Dad storms off. He's not being paid $8 an hour to listen to this garbage.
Jonathan follows an he's eventually able to talk Dad into getting some flunkies together so they can go check out the dive he saw in his head while he was viewing the latest episode of I Dream of Meanie. Jonathan's certain Stabby McJabbington's home, but its not until both of Dad's flunkies are missing an there's a pool of blood seeping out from under a rotating bookshelf that they catch on. Outside, Podunk's finest have their backs to the building an don't seem to realize that the officer approaching them is about a foot taller than any of the officers that entered an think nothing of it, until Mitch reveals himself an goes all Maniac Cop on 'em. Back inside, Dad an Jonathan have located their missing flunkies an a room with more dead cats inside than one of them double wides you'd see on Hoarders. Too late though, cause Mitch has already taken off in his pedo-van an Dad has to take a minute to vent his frustration on Jonathan for not warning him that Mitch was dangerous. The next day, Mitch is watching TV an discovers that the cops know who he is an they saw what he did, an now he's madder than a Republican at a gay wedding ceremony an he's more than ready to go squeeze the squealer. Elsewhere, Alison has to remind the chunkhead that just cause most of his family died an his Dad's havin' a nervous breakdown that doesn't mean it's okay to miss practice, so he starts to head out when he remembers the $3.99 he dropped on a necklace for her over at the CVS pharmacy the other day an gives it to her. It's as precious as plated gold to her though, an after I get done puking from viewing the touching moment, Jonathan leaves for practice. But the $3.99 was all for naught, cause as soon as Jonathan leaves Mitch shows up an starts perforating Alison with a vengeance, an when coach gets the news he figures he'd better send Jonathan home cause he's afraid the kid's psyche might still have a thread of sanity intact an walkin' in on his girlfriend's aerated corpse is just the medicine he needs. When he arrives home, there's about 30 gallons of blood sloshed all around the room an like any good artist, Mitch has signed his work, just in case the chunkhead wasn't sure who did it. So an indeterminate amount of time later, they plant Alison (Who's lookin' pretty pristine for someone that got stabbed about 83 times) in the ground an afterwards, Jonathan decides to take a nap so he can see what Mitch is up to. He's got Rhino with 'im so he won't hit the snooze button on the alarm clock, an once Jon figures out where Mitch is they head over there to pound the tar outta him.
Only once they arrive at the house, the cops show up too an as they head in they find Mitch in the middle of a job. He moves pretty fast for a gimp, and somehow beats all the cops to the roof of the building where he crosses over to the roof next door an removes the bridge. But all that football pays off now, cause Jon's able to jump the distance an ninja kick Mitch right in the kidneys. Mitch is pretty tough though, an he gets up an suplexes Jon onto the pavement an shoves 'im up against a fuel tank an gets ready to part his hair with the butcher knife right as the cops emerge from the stairwell an haul his butt off to the crossbar hotel. Jon's understandably upset, bein' as how he had Mitch right where he wanted 'im an Dad tries to get 'im to calm down by tellin' 'im he'll get the chair an that'll be the end. Bad news for Mitch, seems he's already got a date with Ole Sparky before Jon's clothes have even had a chance to go outta style. But he's got a plan. Before the guards can come get 'im an strap 'im in, he tears the guts outta his TV set an hooks 'em up to himself like jumper cables an starts shockin' the bejezus outta himself an asking his voodoo Jesus to get him outta this predicament til he passes out. The guards aren't real sharp, so they start givin' him CPR til he latches onto the bottom lip of one an stretches it out like a piece of Laffy Taffy til it comes off an then bites the finger off the other mastermind, all while spouting off some fantastic one liners. They're finally able to get him into Ole Sparky an after he calls the priest a pedo, he tells Jon what an asshole he was for shootin' 'im in the kneecap when he was a kid an that he may have cut his career as a serial killer short in doing so. Seems Dad never told Jon what happened to his biological parents. By now, Dad's had about enough of Mitch's inability to keep a secret an pretty quick the executioner turns on the juice an Mitch gets cooked just enough to leave a poop in his drawers when the electricity gives out. He ain't quite dead yet, but he looks a lot like a TV dinner brownie that got about 10 minutes longer than it needed. So the executioner has the doctor check to see if he's well done enough or if he's a little Pinker on the inside than they prefer an when she does Mitch grabs ahold of her an gives her a bigger shock than the one America received when it found out Kristin Shepard was the one that shot J.R. Then the lights go out again an when they return, Mitch's gone an the doctor's sittin' on the floor lookin' like her brain just divided by zero. Everyone fans out to find Mitch, only when they find him he just kinda collapses an spontaneously combusts. Meanwhile, the cops are takin' the doctor to the hospital so they can get her bleedin' heart back to normal sinus rhythm, only when the cops take off she starts talkin' like her balls just dropped an spins the passenger's head around like Linda Blair's an steers the police cruiser into a fuel tanker.
So once the cops get out to the explosion they find out the driver's still alive, an send 'im off in the meat wagon so the medics can try to scrape the burnt parts off like a piece of toast that got a little too toasted. That night, Jon dreams about Alison, only she looks like Sissy Spacek during the climax of Carrie an she tells 'im that it's up to him to stop Mitch cause the cops couldn't catch crabs from a $10 hooker. Upon waking up, he realizes he now has the necklace Alison was wearing when she was buried. It's supposed to help, cause... love I guess. Meanwhile, there's a cop pounding on the front door an his Dad's leavin' a message on the answering machine about how the cop that went with the meat wagon's disappeared. Which makes sense considering he's at the door tryin' to bust in. Jon tries to talk sense to the cop, but the cop won't stop draggin' his gimpy leg along the ground an haphazardly firing shots at 'im an makin' it real dangerous to be anything but Jon, cause this guy trained at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. While it does take longer than it might take the average person, it still doesn't take Jon too long to figure out that Mitch is inside the cop, an immediately starts mocking him for his choice in vessel. But after firing off about 40 rounds, Mitch is finally able to get a shot into Jon's arm when he suddenly has a fainting spell. It's short lived, an when a jogger happens by to check on 'im, he shoots 'im in the back an hops into his body. Meanwhile, Jon's run off to get a clean pair of shorts when some 6 year old punk kid plows into 'im with a front end loader. Unfortunately for Mitch, now inside the punk kid, his legs don't know how to be as long as Jon's, even without the gimp an pretty quick Jon's got ahold of 'im an Mitch is cryin' Mama, literally. Then Mom shows up an tries to pry Jon off Mitch an succeeds in distracting Jon enough that Mitch is able to get a well placed L.A. Gear into Jon's penile region to buy himself some time, only the kid's body starts rejecting his spirit like a bad kidney an he has to jump into Mom on the quick. But Mom's just a dainty flower, so then he hops into a construction worker that comes over to make sure Jon's not a creeper an then starts tryin' to pick axe Jon in the cajones. Unfortunately, as he tries to squirm outta the way of Eunuchdom, he drops the necklace Alison retrieved for him an Mitch ends up with it attached to his pick axe. Realizing the significance of it far more than the audience, who wasn't deemed important enough to warrant providing an explanation to, Mitch chucks the pick axe about 200 yards into a nearby pond an Jon runs like a Taco Bell patron to the nearest bathroom.
So Jon goes to the coach for help. He's a pretty gullible kinda guy an buys the story almost without hesitation. So Jon asks him an the assistant coach to go to his house to retrieve his diving mask, cause that place is a death trap an he's not about to go back there. They need the diving mask to retrieve the necklace, cause love is... well it's really important okay, just trust me. But after a while Jon starts to worry that the coach might be goin' through his underwear drawers so he heads home to check on 'im. Sure enough, the coach is talkin' like he gotten into Jon's tequila, but then pulls himself together an starts makin' a beeline for Jon's jugular. Jon's able to get a door between them, but Mitch's goin' all Jack Torrance on the door an then Ted Raimi's corpse falls down outta the top of the closet on Jon, who then falls on his keys. YEOUCH that smarts. About that time Mitch kicks the door in an the coach starts fightin' the power an Mitch starts worryin' he's gonna lose control an just stabs his vessel out of spite. But now Mitch's spirit's all nekkid an without a body, an as if that wasn't bad enough, Alison's ghost shows up an hits Mitch with the Care Bear Stare an knocks 'im flat on his ass, an in dire need of a plan. But he's a resourceful boy, an he's eventually able to block out his mother's warnings about sticking things in the light sockets an after a good recharging, shoots himself inside the outlet. About that time, Dad shows up an seems understanding enough, until he touches a lamp an goes all Benedad Arnold on Jon an has his flunkies put 'im in his police cruiser. Jon has betrayed face. But before Dad/Mitch can take 'im for a joyride, Rhino shows up an busts the window outta the cruiser an hauls Jon out an he runs. He runs so far away. Dad/Mitch gives chase in his cruiser an pursues him up to the roof of a building where he unloads another 25 or so shots into various things which ricochet, but never bleed. Eventually they end up lookin' like a pair of King Kongs climbin' the Empire State Building an Jon has to yell at his Dad to quit bein' such a weak minded dickweed or Mitch's eventually gonna get close enough that even he couldn't miss getting a few rounds into his hiney. Dad's able to break free long enough to realize he's scared shitless of heights an tumbles off the tower onto a satellite dish below, where Mitch decides to punt for the time being an flies outta Dad's body in the form of a television signal that gets beamed out into TV land. Finally, Jon's got a plan to get rid of Mitch without killin' a buncha people. But he's gonna need the varsity squad, a TV anchorman, and the $3.99 CVS pharmacy necklace to pull it off. One... two... three... DEFENSE!
Alrighty, first of all, I apologize for the length of that plot summary. If you've never seen the movie, it may seem like I unnecessarily drew that out, but no. I compacted it as much as possible without leaving out any important plot points. The movie just has shit happening constantly. It never lets up, there's gotta be something goin' on all the time, which is kind of ironic considering they never used that time to explain some of the bigger plot holes. In an effort to avoid sounding like every other review of this movie, ever, I'll just blow through them real quick. We never find out why Peter Berg can peek in on Mitch Pileggi to see what he's up to. If it'd been something he could do his whole life, that'd be okay (enough for me anyway), but it just happens after he cracks his cranium on the goal post one day at practice. So basically, if he pays attention during that split second an avoids the post, we have no movie. We never find out what the significance of the necklace is. Obviously it's symbolic of Berg's corpsed up girlfriend, but she only had it for about four minutes before Mitch went all Mick Jabber on her, so it's really got no sentimental value. It also seems to have some kind of power over Mitch that's not particularly clear. It seems like he can't hop into anything wearing it, but why that is is never made clear. There's a couple other little things that aren't worth complaining about, but those two are real problems. That said, lets not get too stupid about this. It is a horror/comedy after all. I think that part gets lost in translation for some of the people rating this one. The movie is not taking itself dead serious, and I see little in the way of dialog or writing that is unintentionally funny. Everything that's funny is supposed to be funny. I'm not sure some of the reviewers caught that part, and it's kinda important. With the exception of the plot holes, of course. Those are funny because they're so sloppily handled. IMDB was a bit kinder to it than I had anticipated. Rotten Tomatoes took a big greasy dump on it, but then, that's what they do. It's certainly got problems, but, as usual, the movie has been crucified on both sites. I really don't see it. Mitch Pileggi was fantastic in this movie. Having watched this, it's clear that his acting talents completely went to waste on the X-Files. His over the top portrayal of Horace Pinker is one of my favorite performances in any movie. Which is not to say this is anywhere near one of my favorite movies, I'm just rating his individual effort on its own merit. They put in some really amusing one liners, some that're genuinely hilarious, and others that're just so hokey you can't help but enjoy them. Jack Frost followed the Horace Pinker blueprint in their movie as well, and that's probably what single-handledly saved it from the toilet bowl.
Autopsy time. Lets give this sucker a *why* incision an see how come it don't deserve what the folks at the IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes say about it. As I mentioned, the plot has problems. Pretty bad ones. And those problems are going to cause a rather large dent in its overall rating. Fortunately, this is the only area that will face any serious damage on its score. The acting is excellent. As I mentioned, Mitch Pileggi's performance, on its own, gives this movie a large portion of its overall rating. None of the other characters were really all that interesting, but nor were they poorly acted or bogging down the movie in any way. It also features two of Wes Craven's children in minor, "I got the part because my Dad's the director" roles. Here's the who and the why they matter; Michael Murphy (Phase IV), Peter Berg (Fire in the Sky), Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files, both the series and the movies. The host of In Search Of, 2002 version. Legion of Fire: Killer Ants!, Hunter's Blood, Return of the Living Dead Part II, Mongrel) Sam Scarber (Soulkeeper, The Borrower, Fear), Camille Cooper (The Lawnmower Man 2), Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Wes Craven's New Nightmare), Virginia Morris (Intruders, Species), Jessica Craven (Wes Craven's New Nightmare), Richard Brooks (The Crow: City of Angels, The Hidden), Linda Kaye (Bad Dreams), Vincent Guastaferro (Friday the 13th Part VI), Bruce Wagner (I Madman), Christopher Kriesa (Le6gion of the Dead, Hellraiser: Inferno, The Nurse, Bloodsuckers, The Dentist, Voodoo, Serial Killer, Scanner Cop, I Madman), Bob Swain (Wavelength), Ernie Lively (Sleepwalkers, The Monster Squad), John Mueller (Return to Horror High), Jonathan Craven (The Last House on the Left), Lindsay Parker (Critters 2), Dendrie Taylor (War of the Worlds 2005, Species, Star Trek: Generations), Stephen Hudis (Nightstalker), Gary Davies (Amityville: The Evil Escapes), Timothy Leary (Demon Island), Ray Bickel (Alligator II).
Ted Raimi needs no introduction, he's pro. It also has an extremely small role performed by Brent Spiner of Star Trek fame, and John Tesh as a TV anchorman. Thank goodness he didn't compose the soundtrack. So the acting is a win. The special effects are alright for the time, I refer mostly to the sequences in which Mitch Pileggi is outside of a body an just hangin' around all apparition like. Those sequences are nothing special, but nothing that causes any serious harm. The electrical effects are standard 1980s stuff, they get the job done better than CG could ever hope to, even if they may not be perfect. Beyond that, you're pretty much left with blood and a few throat slashes, all of which look good. The shooting locations are okay. Not problematic, but nor do they really bring too much to the movie. There isn't a lot here you haven't seen before, or that does much to generate atmosphere. The soundtrack is fun, and one from which people will remember the rock songs, rather than the scoring. It includes a cover off Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" performed by Megadeth, which, while decent, does a disservice to the original. Overall, Mitch Pileggi saves it from becoming mundane, though it's still just an average horror flick.