The film was released by Universal Pictures on October 27, 1989 to minor commercial success, grossing over $16 million from a $5 million budget, and critical failure, having been criticized for being a rip-off 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 high school 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.
Eventually, 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.
- Michael Murphy as Lt. Don Parker
- Peter Berg as Jonathan Parker
- Mitch Pileggi as Horace Pinker
- Camille Cooper as Alison Clemens
- Sam Scarber as Sidney Cooper
- Richard Brooks as Rhino
- Ted Raimi as Roy "Pac-Man" Stewart
- Heather Langenkamp as an intended victim of Pinker's. Langenkamp played Nancy Thompson in Wes Craven's landmark 1984 horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and in two of its sequels, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and Wes Craven's New Nightmare.
- Wes Craven as the neighbor
- Jessica Craven (Wes Craven's daughter) as the clerk
- Jonathan Craven (Wes Craven's son and the film's visual effects coordinator) as the jogger (one of Pinker's possessed hosts)
- Dr. Timothy Leary as the television evangelist
- Brent Finkelstien as the talk show guest
- John Tesh as the TV newscaster
- Michael Matthews voices the Evil Mouth that grants Horace Pinker's request for power in Horace's contact with the devil.
- Kane Roberts (the guitarist from Alice Cooper's band) as a buff construction worker (one of Pinker's possessed hosts)
- Eric Singer as a member of the band on the talk show
- Eugene Chadbourne as Man in Bar
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.
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. The film ultimately grossed $16,554,699 in the United States.
The film's combined critical failure and not being as big of a blockbuster as Universal had hoped resulted in the trilogy franchise the studio had planned on to be canceled.
Template:Unsourced section 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.
- "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
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