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SHOCKER (1989): Retro Review…No More Mr. Nice Guy

Mitch Pileggi Rocks! In Shocker

I was fortunate enough to see this film in a theater back in 1989 and love it. Back then I was a hardcore fanboy, licking on Craven sack and loved everything he did. I am older, wiser, and not as much of a fanboy. So I revisited it and though the film is still good, with an amazing performance by Mitch Pileggi as Horace Pinker, but the similarities between it and A Nightmare On Elm Street are uncanny. You have a high school student with a Lieutenant as a father and doesn’t believe him, you have the kid being able to interact with the villain within his dreams, you have elements within the dream able to be transported to reality. I mean why did I not pick up on these similarities back in 1989. Guess my tongue was to far back on Craven’s taint to notice.

The story follows Johnathan, a high school football star who dreams of is foster mother and siblings being killed by a mass murderer. Turns out his family was killed in real life and he’s the only one that can identify the killer from his dream. He sets out to get the killer with his Lieutenant father close behind. The killer, Pinker, is finally caught and is executed by the electric chair. But with his voodoo ritual background and intelligence he’s able to manipulate a weird electrical pulse or signal, that allows his spirit to jump from body to body. Pinker is looking for revenge and sets out to kill all his friends. Jonathan, along with his father, must stop Pinker for good.

So yes this strays from A Nightmare On Elm Street, but the similarities are certainly there. Peter Berg, as Johnathan, is something less to be desired in my opinion, so glad he traded careers and began directing movies.

Peter Berg tries his best acting impression in Shocker

Craven mixes some great music, like he did in his later films, into the score and really brings a rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere to the film. The electricity element added to the storyline in interesting and the end sequence within the TV is pretty cool. But what really makes this movie work and interesting is, again, Mitch Pileggi. The delivery of his lines, the intensity in his facial expressions bring the character to an over-the-top psycho level. Craven certainly knows how to choose cast his villians, that’s for damn sure.

Over-all, I still consider this a classic, if not for Mitch Pileggi, because of the interesting elements of the story that are outside the Elm Street lore. Certainly check this one out if you haven’t or revisit it if it’s been awhile!



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Chad Armstrong

President/Co-Owner at LC Films
Chad Armstrong is a writer/producer/director who was born and raised in Long Beach CA. In 2009 he relocated to Alabama where he founded LeglessCorpse, a site dedicated to independent horror films, and soon after created the indie horror distribution company LeglessCorpse Films (currently known as LC Films). Not only is he co-owner of and LC Films he is also President of the newly formed Back Aisle Video label. Chad's most recent feature film is Deimosimine, and currently in development on the feature film Blood Dancers 2: Full Moon.