31 Days of Guilty Pleasures – ‘Shocker’

Jason McDonald

A few years ago I did a daily countdown to Halloween that featured some of my favorite scares from 31 different horror movies. This year I’m bringing back the feature, but this time we’re taking a look at some of my favorite guilty pleasures.

There’s no rhyme or reason to how these movies are being listed, so the placement on the countdown doesn’t denote any sort of ranking. Also, my definition of guilty pleasure is a movie that ranges from either being not very good to outright bad, but there’s something about it that still makes it endearing to watch

It’s time for another underappreciated Wes Craven classic. We kicked off this week with “Cursed” and now we’re looking at a more retro film that wasn’t appreciated in its time. Today we’re looking at “Shocker”! Bzzzz zap!

Wes Craven released “Shocker” in 1989, five years after “Nightmare on Elm Street”, and some people would say that the film was an attempt to recreate the success of Freddy Krueger for Universal Pictures.  The film featured a known serial killer finally getting his comeuppance (like Freddy) and then coming back from the dead as a supernatural being (like Freddy) to hunt down the child of one of the individuals that pursued him (kind of like Freddy). Only in this case you can replace the dream world with the world of television.

X-files Skinner

“Shocker” starred Mitch Pileggi as the notorious killer which, as a kid that grew up on ‘The X-Files’, this always tripped me out cause I was used to Pileggi as Skinner.  He certainly wasn’t a hero on that show, but he seemed like an upstanding guy who always tried to do right by Mulder and Scully.  So seeing him straight up murder people in “Shocker” was absolutely bizarre.

I also found it interesting that this one starred Peter Berg as the lead survivor.  This film took an interesting twist with who it’s final person would be.  “Nightmare on Elm Street” had Heather Langenkamp attached as it’s final girl so for “Shocker” Wes Craven flipped the script and genders and had a guy fill the role of final boy.  Peter Berg is best known now for his directorial pursuits, but horror fans will always remember him for this role and his traumatizing performance in “Fire in the Sky.”

Also notable about this film is how intertwined it is with ’80s rock.  Specifically Alice Cooper who had some original songs and even had one of his classic songs, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, remade by Megadeth.  Later Cooper would go on to play the father of Freddy Krueger in “Freddy’s Dead.”  So it’s pretty cool to think about Alice Cooper and Wes Craven becoming buds over this movie and then somehow that leads Cooper to becoming the guy who fathers Freddy.  That’s a lifetime honor.  Also, if you haven’t seen the Megadeth cover of “Mr. Nice Guy” you definitely should.  As much as I love the original, this cover is my favorite:

Speaking of rock, you should also check out this segment from the Halloween edition of Headbanger’s Ball.  It features Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop talking about their favorite scary person.  Iggy talks about Noriega like a lunatic and Cooper tries to go with the flow so he can promote “Shocker.” It ends with Cooper’s bandmates or roadies (honestly not sure) restraining Horace before he can attack Cooper. It’s solid gold cheesiness.  Check it out below.

Man, “Shocker” isn’t a great movie, but it certainly makes me remember how much I loved the ’80s.  If you want to see a less fantastical Freddy Krueger lampoon television, “Shocker” is an excellent way to spend the evening.  What do you think? Let us know below. In the meantime if you have any other favorite guilty pleasures, be sure to share.

1 Comment

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      1. Patrick October 7, 2018 at 8:29 pm

        Mitche Pillegi has been around in Hollywood in the mid late 1980s long before Shocker and X Files.

        Check out the movie 3 O Clock HIgh where Mitch was still bald back then in the mid late 1980s