As we all in the horror community know by now, one of the most influential directors of all time has recently passed. Wes Craven died a few days ago, leaving behind a legacy of horror films that will never be forgotten. As a testament to his success over the years, fans have been flooding social media with shock, sadness, and admiration for the late filmmaker. One of the best ways to pay tribute to this legend is by watching his films. We all know his greatest hits: The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes (I & II), A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, New Nightmare, Scream (I-IV) and Red Eye; but there are also some not as widely known films like: Deadly Blessing, Swamp Thing, Invitation to Hell, Deadly Friend, Shocker, Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed, and My Soul to Take. Most of us have seen his hits dozens of times and can quote unforgettable lines by the infamous Ghostface from Scream. “Do you like scary movies?” “Hang up on me again and I will gut you like a fish!” But when I found out about this unexpected death, I wanted to commemorate him by watching one of his movies that I haven’t seen: Shocker.
I found myself immediately smiling as soon as the opening credits started. I could tell this movie was going to be full of rock & roll, metal, and murder. Basically, epically 80’s. Shocker tells the story of Jonathan and his deadly connection to a serial killer. Jonathan Parker is a college football player with great potential if only he could focus more on the game instead of the beautiful ladies. He is distracted by his blonde girlfriend, Allison, when he runs into a goal post and sustains a head injury. This head injury stirs something within Jonathan and he begins to see visions of future killings by the mad, Horace Pinker. Pinker goes on a murder spree that is cut short by the police with Jonathan’s help. When Pinker is sent to the electrocution chair, he uses electricity to come back from the dead and seek vengeance against do-gooder, Jonathan.
I know horror films tend to be far-fetched, but this one really pushes those boundaries to the point where I have to suppress rolling my eyes. Horror is all about scares and imagination. This is full of imagination but unfortunately lacking in scares. Its part comedy, so that doesn’t help with the scary factor either. And by comedy, I mean corny comedy. The fact that this college kid is allowed to be part of all the cop chases is unconvincing. Jonathan has some sweet karate moves. Wait, isn’t he supposed to be a football player? After Pinker’s electrifying execution (set to metal music, of course), it all kind of goes downhill. Pinker jumps from one body to the next, taking over innocent bodies to do his bidding, including a young little girl, which I will admit, is slightly amusing.
It is obvious why this is one of Wes Craven’s lesser known films. It’s really not that good with a ridiculous premise, sub-par special effects, very little gore, and zero suspense. I’m trying to look for a beacon of light here, but I just can’t in this case. Not every film can be a winner and this dreadful film is in no way a reflection of Wes Craven’s mastermind. Wes Craven’s films are without a doubt powerful and memorable, the good and the bad. I mean, he invented one of the greatest and some of the scariest villains of all time, Freddy Krueger and Ghostface! Wes Craven will always be the King of Nightmares in my book. Wes Craven, thanks for the nightmares and sleepless nights. R. I. P.
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