Shocker. 1989. USA. Written and directed by Wes Craven. With Michael Murphy, Peter Berg, Cami Cooper and Mitch Pileggi. 35mm. 110 min.
From slasher to surreal. Wes Craven originally wrote Shocker as a call-out to what he perceived as the declining quality of the Nightmare on Elm Street series (his last credit to that point was as a screenwriter on A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors, in 1987), and the film is packed with his ideas about the power of dreams (again) and the ubiquity and influence of television in 20th-century America. Mitch Pileggi owns his scenes as the vicious TV repairman and serial killer Horace Pinker, who is caught thanks to a mysterious psychic connection with local football hero Jonathan (Peter Berg). Pinker’s trip to the electric chair does not go smoothly, and he uses a newfound ability to harness the power of electricity to jump from body to body as he hunts Jonathan…and the film only gets weirder from there. The last reel is a bizarre trip through late ’80s TV culture, complete with a Timothy Leary cameo. The soundtrack is provided by Megadeth and metal supergroup the Dudes of Wrath.