Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factory - SHOCKER Collector's Edition on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scream Factory - SHOCKER Collector's Edition on Blu-ray

SHOCKER (1989, Wes Craven)
Wes Craven's passing is still so fresh, it having happened just days ago, I am still in a state of processing the man and his legacy. He was certainly one of the first directors whose names I came to know. He and John Carpenter's possessory credits were the first indications I became aware of as an indicator of some kind of authorship for a movie. Being a child primarily of the 1980s, Craven was pretty unavoidable in that he was responsible for creating one of the most popular horror franchises of the time. Freddy Krueger was a name that kids in my schools knew well and his knife-fingered persona was one that was almost obligatory around Halloween. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET really tapped into something in the zeitgeist and genuinely frightened (and scarred) a lot of youngsters my age when the movies first appeared on the scene. Craven had helped birth a new monster into the world and he was terrifying (especially in that first ELM STREET movie). Though I prefer Jason Voorhees to Krueger personally, I cannot deny that NIGHTMARE had a profound effect on me when I finally saw it. I actually waited a little while because it had been built up a lot at the time and I feared it would be too much for me. When I finally got to watch it, at least one if not two sequels were already available on VHS. The movie really got to me and I'm pretty sure I had some trouble sleeping for a while after. It was certainly a film that made me want to dive deeper in the horror genre in general. The truly ingenius thing about Krueger as a character was that his domain was the dreamscape and that made him so much more potent as a boogeyman. Potent not only to the other characters in his movies, but also potent to teenagers and others who were susceptible to bad dreams after horror movies anyway. It was like his perfect synergy for making an iconic bad guy. Kids watched his movies and went home and dreamed about him, but that only made him even more popular. It's like Craven knew he could prey on people's subconscious minds to keep the character going. Who knows if he actually thought about all that, but it certainly worked and Craven (though he had had success with other horror movies) himself  became a giant in the horror genre. Fast forward to 1989. My best friend and I saw SHOCKER in the theater and being none the wiser, we thought it was absolutely amazing. It was gory and scary and had a badass killer and a wicked soundtrack My friend and I had started to get into "heavy metal" music around that time and we were already on board with bands like Megadeth and Metallica when the SHOCKER soundtrack came out on CD. I'm pretty sure my friend was actually turned onto the band Dangerous Toys from that soundtrack even. Watching the movie now I have mixed feelings about it. There is a ton of nostalgia there and I think the first third or so is actually pretty intense. There's a point in the movie though where it starts to turn into something else. It's actually when Megadeth's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" plays in the film for the first time. It plays over a scene of the electric chair being prepared for Horace Pinker (the killer in the film). It's a tone shift from the prior scenes which are gritty and emotional. You see, Horace Pinker is an brutal and sadistic (almost bloodthirsty) serial slaughterer of humans. He kills more people in the opening 30 minutes of SHOCKER than Freddy or Jason kill in an entire film. He's known as "The Family Slasher" in the movie so it's clear he's not a one-death-at-a-time kinda guy. He's as evil as any killer I've ever seen in a movie, but he doesn't enter an over-the-top caricature phase until just after that Megadeth song plays in the movie. I understand that the movie lays out that a transformation has just occurred around that time, but the tone shifts so sharply that it's kind of hard to hang on without being thrown from the ride. One of the complaints I've heard about the movie is that it is way too long. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is a pretty tight ninety-one minutes long and there is a lot packed into that time. If SHOCKER has length issues it may have to do with the fact that it seems like a movie and a half. It runs an hour and 50 minutes and you can feel the length I must admit. That said, for a movie with a couple different things in it, it is still quite entertaining. The first part is kind of like a really graphic episode of a TV show with elements of a serial killer and some small bits of supernatural stuff happening. the second two-thirds is where it kind of becomes another NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movie and being as we have seen several sequels to that franchise (the 3rd one being particularly enjoyable) it may seem a little tired in comparison. There's a point just before the execution where Horace Pinker bites the lip of one of the prison guards and it stretches like a cartoon character. My first reaction upon seeing that this time was, "What the hell was Craven thinking??". Then I thought about it a bit more and it all started to make sense. Sam Raimi has a deep affection for the Three Stooges. I never thought that love could be incorporated into a horror film in any way, but Raimi makes it work in EVIL DEAD II. Craven clearly has a similarly twisted sense of humor when it comes to the macabre and so scenes like that one in SHOCKER are examples of that I guess. Does it work as well as when Raimi does it? No. That said, I respect the man trying to stretch things a bit (pun intended) and establish a bizarre universe where terror and slapstick inhabit the same space. Though some might argue this is one of Craven's lesser efforts, I believe he was one of our greatest horror directors and it was his sense of humor that set him apart from a lot of the others. That sense of humor is on display here in the most wicked of ways.

Special Features:
Scream Factory continues their tradition of not skimping on the supplements here with a well rounded Collector's Edition package. First off, the transfer looks quite good and will certainly please all the fans of the film. Beyond that, a bunch of extras are included:

-A (NEW) Audio Commentary With Director Of Photography Jacques Haitkin, Co-Producer Robert Engelman And Composer William Goldstein.

-An Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Wes Craven.
-(NEW) Cable Guy – An All- An Interview With Actor Mitch Pileggi.
-(NEW) Alison's Adventures – An Interview With Actress Cami Cooper.
-(NEW) It's Alive – An Interview With Executive Producer Shep Gordon.
-(NEW) No More Mr. Nice Guy – The Music Of "Shocker," Featuring Interviews With Music Supervisor Desmond Child And Soundtrack Artists Bruce Kulick (KISS), Jason McMaster (DANGEROUS TOYS), Kane Roberts (ALICE COOPER), and Dave Ellefson (MEGADETH).
-2 Vintage Making Of SHOCKER Featurettes Including An interview With Wes Craven
-Theatrical Trailer
-TV Spots
-Radio Spots
-Original Storyboard Gallery

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