Director: Wes Craven

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

I'm not all that big a Wes Craven fan frankly, but I thought Shocker (1989) delivered what a cheezy horror flick is supposed to deliver & good casting had a lot to do with it.

Serial killer Horace Pinker (excellently played by Mitch Pileggi in pre-X Files days) is sent to the electric chair. He's pretty certain he'll be back. Sure enough, his soul enters into the world's electrical system, & he can manifest just about anywhere any sort of power source reaches, possessing victims electrically.

The humorous highlight of the piece is when killer & hero pursue one another through a channel-shifting television landscape. But most of the film goes for chills, not comedy. Time has not been entirely kind to Shocker & it's not as scary in the new millenium as it seemed in the previous, but it remains a highwater mark for Craven.

The obvious influence Craven's original claim to fame Nightmare on Elmstreet (1984) perhaps keeps Shocker from getting the credit it deserves, but I'd think any honest assessment would find Pinker a more interesting supernatural serial killer than Freddie, though Freddie over time acquired a vastly higher kitsch value.

Deadly FriendMore in keeping with Craven's usual level of skill, alas, is Deadly Friends (1986) about a super genius boy (Matthew Laborteaux) who somehow seems totally retarded beginning to end.

It was based on a horror novel & I remember thinking this might turn out to be better than most of Craven's crud, as his films tend to be flawed by lack of structure or in other words bad storytelling ability. Having an actual story to begin with sometimes helps a director overcome a tendency toward rambling bad attempts at telling tales.

But the film just sucks. The cute robot isn't cute enough & the bride-of-frankenstein theme lays there like a frigid dud. I really wanted Boy Dr Frankenstein to just get killed; I mean, the crazy little bastard steals a corpse of a gorgeous girl & keeps her hidden in the house or in the shed knowing she's killing people. The only conceivable explanation for why a "genius" would do that is because even geniuses need to wack off.

The only character worth caring about was the girl herself, abused then killed by her dad, then for all practical purposes similarly "used" by the pervy boy next door who's supposed to be so smart but seems to be no smarter than Wes Craven.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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