Between the genre rejuvenators NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and SCREAM, director WES CRAVEN hit a number of fly balls, SHOCKER being one of them. Large chunks of the film work fantastically, particularly the relatively realistic family killer on the loose opening scenes and the rabid bulldog performance of MITCH PILEGGI (Skinner from THE X-FILES), as wannabe horror icon Horace Pinker. Even if you commit yourself to the fact that Craven at this point is really experimenting with dark fantasy rather than outright horror, this mishmash requires the audience to change gears and swallow an awful lot.
Personally I have no problem with folks turning into electricity and jumping through television sets and in-and-out of host bodies. Set it to some heavy metal music and you’d really have to be a stick in the mud to gripe. I just have a real problem with helpful ghosts. I’m sorry I just do.
I hate helpful ghosts.
Like in THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remake where CHRIS KATTAN appears at the end all fluffy to save the day? It really pissed me off. In SHOCKER it’s CAMI COOPER our football hero’s (PETER BERG) slaughtered girlfriend who returns to set things right.
Now mind you, I don’t care if the ghost gives some advice or leaves messages on the bathroom mirror and CAMI does look swell covered head to toe in the red stuff, but delivering magic love necklaces and shooting beams of light from her abdomen is just too much for your poor Unkle Lancifer. I really have to draw the line.
To tell you the truth I’m not a big fan of rule set-up scenes either, and SHOCKER has a doozey where mid-way through the film BERG somehow explains the perimeters of this movie’s “logic” to his nonplussed football buddies.
Of course all is forgiven, when a little girl becomes possessed by the evil Pinker and begins spitting and swearing like a trucker and jumps into a nearby tractor in order to run down constipation-faced BERG. I did see SHOCKER in the theater and will always remember the audience howling at this scene. It certainly went over bigger than Pinker’s assortment of BAZOOKA JOE meets FAT ALBERT zingers. (Did the electrically charged Pinker really say, “Care to take a ride in my VOLTZ wagon?”) I know there are adamant supporters of this movie and I guess it is goofy fun in many places, but even if I could recover from the constant channel switching changes in tone and the mixed signals about capital punishment and violence in the media, there’s still the attack of the massage chair scene to contend with which comes off like a deleted scene from PEE WEE’s PLAYHOUSE.
I really wish I could enjoy this near miss more than I do. Here’s to hoping that someday a friendly ghost will appear and tell me how.