30 years later, this grossly misunderstood film, widely dismissed as a misfire back in 1981, seems more like its creator's earnest attempt to warn us of some impending doom. Like an accidental prophecy of our bleak broadcasting future, with a touch of dark humor, SHOCK TREATMENT plays like someone woke up from dreaming the real horrors of American Reality TV, 30 years ago, and then tried to jot down their visions before they could forget them. If Anthony Burgess ever wrote a Game Show, I imagine it would have went something like this. Denton really is America's Truth - The Home of Happiness indeed. God help us. It's messy but its meta-weird, fun, and surprisingly intellectual stuff.
David Cronenberg was going to remake this. I don't pretend to know what transpired then, but I imagine he stopped himself because he realized he really just wished he had made it FIRST. The concept is so simple, and the turmoil produced slides into anxiety so neatly, it's very easy to wonder why this isn't shot in black and white, starring Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre or EHEM! Claude Rains (visual comparisons to 'The Invisible Man' notwithstanding). An instant classic. It remains my personal favorite among Time-Travel films.
Art/Direction and Bob Hoskins save this Neo-Noir from what could very easily, be reworked into a Noir spoof, given it's preposterous premise. Don't take it too seriously. Make some popcorn, try not to overthink the SHATTERING twist-ending, and you'll enjoy it.