Shocker just might be responsible for Japan's late 90's horror boom. I hadn't seen this one since it was originally released on video (the sneak-an-R-rated-movie method of choice for an 8 year old Wes Black), and my memory of it was foggy. Until last night.
It's a post-Nightmare on Elm Street shocker from Wes Craven, which tries to recapture the Kruger magic by bringing over the cast, crew, and formula from the Nightmare series. Even the title sequence was pulled from the original Nightmare to guarantee Horace Pinker as the next slasher icon. At least that's what the executives had in mind.
Watching it now I'm convinced that Craven is either half-parodying the Elm Streeters, or having fun and doing some self-sabotage on what was an overly-calculated attempt at making a new slasher franchise. Or this shit just blew up in their collective faces. Any way you cut it, it's a wild, wild, ride that's almost never scary, but is always throwing some insane concept or set-piece at you. Sometimes it even seems that Craven is channeling Sam Raimi, building on their decade long cinematic back-and-forth.
But, onto the Japanese horror thing. I'd scream "liar" right in the faces of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hiroshi Takahashi, and Hideo Nakata if they claimed to have never seen the film (well, maybe not, but I'd be thinking it as I kiss their asses). Before you cry foul, keep in mind that Kurosawa has named Hooper's Spontaneous Combustion and The Mangler as major influences, and, oh yeah, he basically remade Shocker as Pulse. He did it very well, and he went in directions that Shocker didn't, but it's clearly the springboard all the same. As for Nakata and Takahashi, replace bald, limping Horace Pinker with a slim, long-haired girl named Sadako and you have the finale to Ring (yes, that part is of Nakata and Takahashi's invention, not author Koji Suzuki's).
Of course that all pales in comparison to it featuring a bit part by former Alice Cooper guitarist, and my nihongo no kurasumeto, Kane Roberts as a muscle bound construction worker. Now, while the folks at Universal couldn't guarantee that Shocker would be the next great horror series, I can guarantee you that Kane will be hearing more Shocker questions tomorrow night than he has over the past twenty years.