Shocker (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wes Craven
Produced by
  • Warren Chadwick
  • Wes Craven
  • Bob Engelman
  • Peter Foster
  • Shep Gordon
  • Barin Kumar
  • Marianne Maddalena
Written by Wes Craven
Music by
Cinematography Jacques Haitkin
Edited by Andy Blumenthal
Alive Films
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • October 27, 1989 (1989-10-27)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million
Box office $16.6 million[2]

Shocker (also known as Wes Craven's Shocker) is a 1989 American comedy slasher film written and directed by Wes Craven, and starring Michael Murphy, Peter Berg, Heather Langenkamp, Cami Cooper, and Mitch Pileggi. The film was released by Universal Pictures on October 27, 1989 to minor commercial success, grossing over $16 million[2] from a $5 million budget, and critical failure, having been criticized for being too derivative of Craven's earlier film A Nightmare on Elm Street.


A serial killer, having murdered over thirty people, is on the loose in a Los Angeles suburb. A television repairman with a pronounced limp, named Horace Pinker, becomes the prime suspect. When the investigating detective, Lt. Don Parker, gets too close, Pinker murders Parker's wife, foster daughter, and foster son.

However, his other foster son, a college football star named Jonathan, develops a strange connection to Pinker through his dreams and leads Parker to Pinker's rundown shop. In a shootout in which several officers are killed, Pinker manages to escape, and targets Jonathan's girlfriend Allison in retribution.

Another dream leads Lt. Parker and the police to Pinker, whom they catch in the act of a kidnapping. This time, just as Pinker is about to kill Jonathan, he is arrested. Pinker is quickly convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair.

Prior to his execution, Pinker reveals that Jonathan is, in fact, his son, and that as a boy, Jonathan had shot him in the knee while trying to stop the murder of his mother. But what they do not realize is that Pinker has made a "deal with the Devil", When executed, he does not actually die but instead becomes pure electricity, and is able to possess others (it is unknown if the possessed hosts live or die after Pinker leaves their body since some of them were shown to be lying motionless after being released) to continue his murderous ways.

He soon possesses Lt. Parker, who uses his strength to fight off Pinker, who escapes into a T.V. dish. Jonathan and his friends try to find a way to fight him. Jonathan's friend, Rhino and his friends head to the power station to disable the power.

Jonathan, with the aid of Alison's "spirit", devises a scheme to bring Pinker back into the real world and accidentally discovers that Pinker, as with all energy sources, is bound by the laws of the real world; Jonathan uses this limitation to defeat Pinker, and traps him inside a television. Pinker threatens Jonathan that he will find a way out of his "prison". The film ends when Alison's voice tells Jonathan to take care of himself, while Jonathan's neighborhood suffers a blackout, caused by his friends blowing out the power main, trapping Pinker in the television.

Jonathan goes outside amidst all his neighbors and looks up at the sky. He asks Alison if she can see the stars to which she replies "Absolutely beautiful" Jonathan smiles and agrees and takes one more look at the stars.





According to Craven, the film was severely cut for an "R" rating. It took around thirteen submissions to the Motion Picture Association of America to receive an "R" instead of an "X". Some scenes that were cut included Pinker spitting out fingers that he bit off of a prison guard, a longer and more graphic electrocution of Pinker, and a longer scene of a possessed coach stabbing his own hand. Despite fan interest, an uncut version has never been released.

Box office[edit]

Shocker was released on October 27, 1989 in 1,783 venues, earning $4,510,990 in its opening weekend, ranking second behind the third weekend of Look Who's Talking.[3] The film ultimately grossed $16,554,699 in the United States.[2]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mostly negative reviews from critics and holds a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 24 reviews.[4]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD by Universal Studios in 1999.[5] It was subsequently re-released by the studio in 2007 as a double feature, alongside Craven's The People Under the Stairs.[6] The film's first Blu-ray edition was released by Shout! Factory on September 8, 2015.[7]


Shocker received a novelization.


Original musical contributions were made by Alice Cooper (who would later play Freddy Krueger's abusive foster father, Mr. Underwood, in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare), Megadeth who covered Alice Cooper's 1973 hit "No More Mr. Nice Guy".The movie's "title song" was recorded by The Dudes of Wrath, which was composed of Kiss' Paul Stanley and producer Desmond Child both on vocals, Vivian Campbell and Guy Mann-Dude on guitars, Whitesnake's Rudy Sarzo on bass guitar, and Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee on drums. Also backing vocals by Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Kane Roberts. The soundtrack was released on Capitol/SBK Records in 1989.[8]

Soundtrack listing:

  • "Sword & Stone" — Bonfire
  • "No More Mr. Nice Guy" — Megadeth
  • "Shocker" — The Dudes of Wrath
  • "Timeless Love" — Saraya
  • "Demon Bell — The Ballad of Horace Pinker" – Dangerous Toys
  • "Love Transfusion" — Iggy Pop
  • "Different Breed" — Dead On


  1. ^ "Shocker (18)". British Board of Film Classification. December 1, 1989. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Shocker (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for October 27-29, 1989". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. October 30, 1989. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Shocker (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Shocker (DVD)". Retrieved 2011-04-13. 
  6. ^ "People Under The Stairs, The / Shocker (Double Feature)". Retrieved 2011-04-13. 
  7. ^ "Shocker (blu-ray)". 
  8. ^ "Shocker [Original Soundtrack]". AllMusic. 

External links[edit]