Friday, June 21, 2013

Rare Flix: Shocker

The fact that I got an actual DVD Transfer puts it ahead of Deadly Blessing right away!  Today's film is Shocker, a film that shows that Wes Craven only has so many ideas.  Well, that or the Studio System won't let him do anything all that new too often.  Given that we're looking at a Scream TV Show in the future, it could be either really.  What is this film about?  Well, a criminal dies and comes back to life to make life hell for a teenager who he thinks wronged him by using inexplicable dark magic powers.  This time though, it's not a Janitor, it's not child molestation and it's because of electricity in place of fire.  This is more than a sort-of Remake of Nightmare on Elm Street though.  You see, this film came out in 1989, right around the time that House III: The Horror Show did.  If you don't know the film or didn't read my review (tisk tisk), it's about a convicted killer who dies in the Electric Chair, only to try to drive insane/kill the Cop (Lance Henriksen) who put him away.  So is one a rip-off of the other?  They came out so close together that it's really hard to say.  Ironically, House III rips off Elm Street far more overtly by having their killer appear in weird visions or as other creatures.  Craven rips off himself less and John Carpenter more, as the body switching gimmick here reminds me of both The Thing and Prince of Darkness.  Will this film top it's House rival and be the one true 'Killer comes back to life as Electricity to get revenge' film to rule them all?  To find out, read on...
A killer who takes out whole families (about twenty years ahead of Fear Itself's Family Man) is terrorizing a Town.  In that same town, a young man (Peter Berg) hits his head during Football Practice.

Why does that matter, you ask?
He has a vision of some murders and actually sees the killer.  As it turns out, he's somehow mentally-projecting himself there...somehow.  Seriously, they don't explain it.
Unfortunately, since he wasn't there for real, he can't stop the murder of his family (save for his Dad).  They try to 'soften' the blow by saying that they were his adopted family.

If that wasn't the reason, then why make him be adopted?  It adds nothing otherwise.
Eventually, the killer is caught- after being shown as practically omniscient and super-human-, but manages to do some weird ceremony to keep his soul alive.
In the days following, he becomes a static-like spirit that can possess people and he uses them to try to kill our hero.  Why they still limp is anyone's guess.  I guess it's psychosomatic.
Fortunately, our hero has the ghost of his dead girlfriend on his side.  I've never dated a Deus Ex Machina before- it must be nice.
The static spirit of the killer refuses to give up.  Fortunately, our hero has a convoluted plan involving giving himself a concussion, luring the spirit into a camera and leading it through stock footage.

It's at this point that the film just goes over the rails.  Seriously, they run through footage of the Hindenburg Crash!
Speaking of which, how does them jumping into footage of the News cause them to physically-interact with the Reader (John Tesh in a weird cameo)?  I realize that none of this is really logical, but I still draw the line here!

Yes, even more than when they run through Leave it to Beaver footage.
After that, there's a very confusing wrap-up involving the power in town being blown out, a remote control and somehow the killer being turned into an explosion of pixels.  I guess it's up to you to fix him, Willy Wonka!  The End.
I'm...I'm not that shocked.  After House III, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Would I get the same movie?  Would Craven blatantly rip himself off?  To his credit, there aren't many 'Freddy' moments here.  They pretty much all show up in the end, although he does have a few quips before then.  The killer is certainly an odd mix of Freddy and Jason Voorhees, as he's presented as a mostly-silent figure initially.  However, once he starts talking, he won't shut up.  It's an odd transition to say the least!  The biggest issue here involves explaining things.  House III was a bit vague how the magic worked other than to just say 'He used black magic and now he's electric.'  In this film, they pretty much say the same thing.  My issue, however, is actually with the whole 'psychic connection' bit.  How?  Why?  When?  Why?  Seriously, they don't explain a damn thing!  This guy hits his head, has a dream where he says events actually happening and can just now 'sense' the killer.  I'm sorry, but no.  You can't just pull that crap out of your ass and expect it not to stink.  It does stink and really hurts the whole experience.  Regardless, it's a decent-enough film with some touches of creativity, even though it tends to go over the top near the end.  Isn't that right, Timothy Leary?
Next up, a crazy film that has truly earned it's cult film reputation.  After four years, it's time for a proper review of this shit.  Stay tuned...

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