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Shocker - Collector's Edition

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Scream Factory
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Wes Craven
Peter Berg
Mitch Pileggi
Michael Murphy
Cami Cooper
Richard L. Brooks
Bottom Line: 

Following the massive success of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven took less of a hands-on approach to the franchise it would spawn (only returning to co-write and produce the fan-favorite Dream Warriors and write and direct, what, in my opinion, is  the best of the sequels, the meta-before-meta-was-even-a-thing Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), and chose to develop other properties, including the dismal Deadly Friend and The Hills Have Part II, as well as a few choice nuggets like The People Under the Stairs, and the fantastic The Serpent and the Rainbow. None of those films, however, came close to duplicating the success of his finger-knived, fedora-wearing creation, which may explain his return to the “slasher” genre with 1990’s thematically similar Shocker.  

A serial killer stalks the quiet suburban homes surrounding Los Angeles, killing families while they sleep, and leaving nary a clue as to how he’s managed to slip in and out of their homes unseen. While the city is in a full-blown panic, young college football star, Jonathan Parker (Peter Berg), is nonplussed by the chaos around him, choosing to, instead, focus on his game and his girlfriend, Alison (Cami Cooper). That’s all about to change, however, when, Jonathan has a dream that sees him standing outside of his childhood home, where he comes face to face with a man (Mitch Pileggi) preparing to massacre his family. Jonathan awakes from his nightmare, and is relieved for a moment, only to receive a phone call telling him that his foster mother, sister, and brother had been brutally murdered.

Jonathan races to the crime scene where his father, Don (Michael Murphy) – the lead detective on the case – tries to shield him from the carnage, but, after their funeral, Jonathan tells his father about his dream, and that not only can he describe the man, but he knows his identity from the van parked outside their home that evening.

Desperate to catch the killer, Don rallies his men and, accompanied by Jonathan, converge upon the rundown workshop of television repairman, Horace Pinker. However, Pinker is one step ahead of them, and makes short work of Don’s backup, escaping in a police uniform, and finding a new target in Jonathan, whose story dominates the headlines the following day. Unwilling to let this interfere with his preparation for the big game, Jonathan attends his team’s practice session, while, back at his apartment, Pinker pays a visit to Alison. Once again, Jonathan finds himself at a crime scene in which Pinker has claimed someone that he loves, and he vows to catch him and make him pay for what he’s done.

With the aid of his friend Rhino (Richard L. Brooks), Jonathan falls asleep in hopes of, once again, catching Pinker in the act, with instructions for Rhino to wake him up if he senses trouble. The plan works, and Rhino and Jonathan rush to the scene of another murder, while Don and a convoy of cops quietly follow. It’s here that Pinker is finally caught and taken into custody, but, later, as he prepares for his execution, Pinker performs a strange ritual that somehow transforms him into pure energy upon his death, and the killer becomes even more powerful and dangerous than anyone could have imagined. However, a stunning revelation proves to make Jonathan just as dangerous to Pinker, leading to a supernatural showdown of shocking proportions.

Shocker disappointed me on my first viewing back upon its release as, for me, the film’s similarities to Craven’s own A Nightmare on Elm Street just struck me as a desperate “return to the well” for the director, and I didn’t revisit the film until nearly a decade or so later. Oddly enough, I was more willing to look past the repurposing of the formula Craven, himself, had created, and, instead, focused on the new ingredients Craven had added since, including the familial dynamic, a touch of the biblical, and an even darker, more nihilistic protagonist. As I said in my recent review of Craven’s The People Under the Stairs, Shocker isn’t one of his best films, but it is one of his most accessible and popular, especially among its large and loyal following, hence its addition to Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition series.

Right off the bat, I have to say that Shocker represents one of the finest transfers Scream Factory has given us, with an amazingly clean and crisp image that is as close to pristine as they come. This is a vibrant, balanced, and sharp image that’s teeming with the three Ds - detail, depth, and dimension. It’s almost too good as some of Shocker’s special effects look a bit worse for wear under the scrutiny of HD!

The accompanying audio tracks are also a welcome surprise, with a really robust 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track that works overtime, delivering impressive punch in the bass department, while dialogue is natural and well-mixed. Directional and environmental effects are also smartly mixed, providing a nicely immersive experience, while the film’s heavy metal soundtrack crunches along with appropriately bombastic results.

Bonus features include a wonderful collection of all-new goodies including:

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Director Of Photography Jacques Haitkin, Co-Producer Robert Engelman And Composer William Goldstein
  • NEW Cable Guy – An All-New Interview With Actor Mitch Pileggi
  • NEW Alison's Adventures – An Interview With Actress Cami Cooper
  • NEW It's Alive – An Interview With Executive Producer Shep Gordon
  • NEW No More Mr. Nice Guy – The Music Of "Shocker," Featuring Interviews with Music Supervisor Desmond Child And Soundtrack Artists Bruce Kulick (KISS), Jason McMaster (DANGEROUS TOYS), Kane Roberts (ALICE COOPER), and Dave Ellefson (MEGADETH)
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Wes Craven
  • 2 Vintage Making Of SHOCKER Featurettes Including An interview With Wes Craven
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spots
  • Original Storyboard Gallery
  • Still Gallery

Easily now serving as the definitive edition of Craven’s popular slasher, Scream Factory’s Shocker – Collector’s Edition is a must-own for fans of the film, and comes highly recommended! 

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