I never saw this one back in the day, and I never sought it out in the years since, because I remember reading the reviews at the time of the film’s release. Turns out I maybe should have listened to those reviews. What I hoped would prove a nostalgia-fueled romp with some quality flourishes by writer/director Wes Craven, um, didn’t. A serial killer sent to the electric chair, who returns from the dead as a ghost that can travel through electrical current, where anybody close to a wall outlet is in danger? Sure sounds promising, doesn’t it?
Let’s face it, Wes Craven may be one of the true giants of the Horror genre, but he can on occasion make a lousy movie. SHOCKER is far too silly to ever be taken seriously as straight Horror, and it has one insurmountable flaw keeping it from succeeding as a comedy: it isn’t funny. Nor does it have all those qualities necessary for the viewer to fully enjoy it as a good “bad” movie. I had fun with it, yes, but it isn’t one of the all-time greats of campiness, which is what I’d been hoping for if I couldn’t have a serious, ahem, shocker.
Around this time in Craven’s career, the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise had petered out—FREDDY’S DEAD is proof of that—with SCREAM and NEW NIGHTMARE still a few years off. With THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS being the notable exception, Craven went into a creative slump following the previous year’s THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. SHOCKER represents what came out of that slump.
The soundtrack kicks ass, though.