Shocker (1989)

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Released 20-Feb-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 105:26
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Wes Craven

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Michael Murphy
Peter Berg
Mitch Pileggi
Sam Scarber
Camille Cooper
Ted Raimi
Keith Anthony-Lubow-Bellamy
Heather Langenkamp
Virginia Morris
John Tesh
Jessica Craven
Emily Samuel
Richard Brooks
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Michael Bruce
Alice Cooper
Dave Ellefson

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    After the smash hit success of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven released a string of assorted horror films that received mixed responses both critically and commercially. The thing that undoubtedly disappointed his backers the most in this period was his failure to create another blockbuster franchise from these movies. The reason? He had failed to create a marketable menace. Shocker's Horace Pinker (an angry pre X-Files Mitch Pileggi) was Wes Craven's attempt at creating another Freddy Krueger, shamelessly pitched at the MTV generation. He failed, but managed to create an interesting movie in the process.

    Horace Pinker is a crazed serial killer who loves nothing more than to slaughter entire families in between fixing their TV sets and practicing bizarre electricity worshipping voodoo. He is literally getting away with murder until local college football hero Johnny Parker (Peter Berg, turning in an embarrassingly over the top performance) starts having dreams about Pinker's crimes shortly before they happen. Alas, his dreams start shortly before Pinker slays Johnny's foster mother and siblings.

    It's not long before Pinker is caught thanks to Johnny convincing his foster dad (Michael Murphy), who happens to be the lead detective on the case, that his dreams are real. Pinker is sentenced to death by electrocution, but this surge of electricity to his body only makes Pinker more powerful than ever as he sets out to avenge his capture as an electrified spirit.

    The formulaic plot and dialogue of Shocker share more than a passing resemblance to A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the movie is ultimately let down more by the patchy storyline, underdeveloped script and overacting than its lack of originality. That patchy script is really the most frustrating thing about Shocker. The good bits are right on par with Wes Craven's best work, the not so good bits are on par with his worst, and there is not a lot in between the two extremes. The final act of the film, in particular, is brilliant - a madcap hybrid of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Videodrome that doesn't stop for air as it lampoons the channel-hopping, information-overload stereotype of the day. Shocker would have been a real winner had the rest of the script captured even a fraction of the energy in the finale.

    Wes Craven's accessible brand of black humour, that he would later perfect with Scream, makes Shocker worth a watch, but only die hard Wes Craven fans will want to do so more than once.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video is very good for a film of this age. The image is generally quite clear and sharp, with very little grain evident. The lack of extras and basic audio tracks have allowed for consistently high bitrates, despite this only being a single layer disc. There are some noticeable film artefacts throughout, with one or two scenes noticeably worse than others (such as the scene at 54:50, where as many as a dozen flecks are visible in each frame for about 20 seconds). There is also a noticeable telecine wobble at 6:14, where the otherwise static image shakes noticeably (although this is the only point where the video noticeably displays this artefact).

    The colour levels are consistent, although not particularly vibrant. The darker scenes hold up well, displaying good shadow depth. The transfer has kept the distinctly 1980s look to the colour.

    The main menu strangely forces the display to pan & scan a full screen image, despite the menu image itself being in 1.78:1. This unusual behaviour will make the menu appear to be of lower resolution than it should on some systems, but does not affect the main feature.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Three Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio tracks are available, in English, French and Spanish.

    The dialogue is at a very low level in the mix and is occasionally overpowered by music and effects. The music volume is louder than the dialogue volume to the point that I found the need to turn the master level down several times when musical montages came on screen.

    There are no audible clicks or drop-outs noticeable, aided by the fact that the overall volume level is quite low.

    There is no surround channel usage in the mix, and not much bottom end audio that will reach a subwoofer.

    The soundtrack features some great 1980s cheesy hair metal, including Alice Cooper and Megadeth, that goes well with the general 1980s MTV feel of the movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    A similar bare bones edition is available in Region 1, but Region 4 includes an additional Spanish language track and several extra subtitle streams (Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic, French).

    A Region 2 version is available that includes a Trailer, a multi-angle Story Board vs Scene, Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, German subtitles, Turkish subtitles and a German language track, but misses out on the French and Spanish audio tracks as well as all but the English subtitles on the Region 4 release.

    The decent range of extras on the Region 2 edition makes it the version of choice, but it is significantly more expensive than the budget priced local release at the time of writing.


    A very uneven movie that plays more for laughs than scares. Wes Craven die-hards will find more in this than most, but are likely to want the version with more goodies (although the low price may swing people towards this bare-bones release).

    The video quality is near exemplary for an older budget title. On the other hand, the sound is mixed at an irritating level.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDLG V8824W, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D512
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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