Shocker appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mostly positive presentation.
Sharpness seemed good. A little softness affected a few wide shots and some interiors, but those were insubstantial. Instead, overall definition looked reasonably concise and tight. I witnessed no issues with moiré effects or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. Any print flaws were minimal, so we got a pretty clean presentation.
Colors were decent but reflected the issues that affected some of the era’s film stocks. This meant hues that seemed a but mushy, but the Blu-ray mostly displayed acceptable to good tones. Blacks were also a little inky at times, but they seemed fine as a whole, and shadows showed reasonably solid clarity. Despite some minor issues, this was a fairly appealing transfer..
Like the picture, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack also showed its age. That said, it was fine given those limitations. The soundscape showed decent stereo imaging for the music and gave us a fair sense of environment. I wouldn’t call movement and integration truly natural, but they added some involvement to the proceedings and used the five channels in a reasonably satisfactory manner.
Audio quality was dated but decent. Speech could be a little brittle, but the lines remained intelligible and were usually natural enough. Music gave us acceptable vivacity, and effects seemed okay; they lacked great clarity but suffered from no obvious distortion or other flaws. This was a more than serviceable soundtrack for a 26-year-old movie.
When we go to the Blu-ray’s extras, we get two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/director Wes Craven and presents a running, screen-specific piece. Craven discusses the project's roots, inspirations and influences, story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, effects and stunts, and related topics.
Craven delivers a pretty mediocre commentary. He touches on a decent array of subjects and gives us occasional insights, but a lot of dead air passes, and the remarks tend to be somewhat bland. Craven does mention the movie's similarities with Nightmare on Elm Street, which becomes interesting, but overall this remains a lackluster piece.
Note that Craven recorded his commentary for a 2001 UK DVD. I believe the track makes its US debut here, as I couldn’t find evidence it showed up on any prior US DVDs.
For the second commentary, we hear from director of photography Jacques Haitkin, producer Robert Engelman and composer William Goldstein. Disc producer Michael Felsher conducted independent interviews with these three, so we get them presented here in a totally non-scene-specific manner. First we hear from Haitkin and then we get the chat with Engelman and finally we hear from Gooldstein. All three interviews cover similar territory, as we learn about how the men got into movies as well as their work on Shocker and other aspects of their careers.
Despite the unconventional format, the interviews add up to a good commentary. The three participants cover their efforts and perspectives well and we learn quite a lot about the production. After the dull Craven commentary, this one proves to be refreshing.
A few featurettes follow. Cable Guy goes for 17 minutes, 36 seconds and offers a chat with actor Mitch Pileggi. He talks about his role, his performance, aspects of the shoot and other biographical/career notes. Pileggi displays an affable personality and gives us a nice set of notes.
During the 17-minute, 12-second Alison’s Adventures, we find an interview with actor Camille Cooper. She discusses topics similar to those addressed by Pileggi, as we learn of her life/career, with an emphasis on Shocker. Though not as interesting as Pileggi’s chat, we do get a good array of facts.
It’s Alive presents an 11-minute, 57-second conversation with executive producer Shep Gordon. As expected, he tells us about his career and what he did for Shocker. In particular, I like Gordon’s discussion of his work in music, as this reveals why Shocker uses so many rock tunes.
Next comes the 26-minute, 13-second No More Mr. Nice Guy. It features comments from Pileggi, music supervisor/producer Desmond Child, and musicians Jason McMaster, David Ellefson, Kane Roberts and Bruce Kulick. “Guy” looks at the rock songs featured in the film. Some decent comments appear to make this a moderately interesting piece.
A Vintage Making Of runs eight minutes, 48 seconds and actually presents two separate short featurettes. We hear from Craven, Pileggi, producer Marianne Maddalena, and actors Michael Murphy and Peter Berg. In addition to shots from the set, we get thoughts about the movie’s themes and concepts as well as story/characters. The segments work better than expected, though they include unfortunate spoilers.
We get two galleries, both of which offer running compilations. One provides storyboards (8:55), and the other gives us stills (6:32). Both offer a decent array of materials, though the storyboards work best.
Plenty of promos finish the set. We find the film’s trailer, two TV spots and two radio spots.
Apparently Wes Craven wanted to remake A Nightmare On Elm Street in the worst way, because that’s what Shocker did: create a bad copy of his earlier success. Slow, stupid and flawed in a variety of ways, Shocker flops. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture and audio as well as a nice selection of bonus materials. Skip Shocker and watch the vastly superior Nightmare instead.