L.S. Klepp
September 13, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Shock Radio

Current Status
In Season
Leigh Clark
Fiction, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C

It’s a great idea for a thriller: A foulmouthed radio shock jock resembling Howard Stern squares off against an elusive serial killer who keeps phoning in to the show, promising new carnage. Is there a strange mirror-image complicity between these two pursuers of notoriety through repulsive behavior? We never find out. Leigh Clark — as inept as the L.A. cops in his book — lets his premise get away. The radio trash talker, Aaron Scott, turns out to be a nice Jewish boy. As for the killer, known as the Phantom, he sounds at first like Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver, possessed by an urge to purge and purify the city. But Clark overdoes it, turning him into a hideously deformed comic-book monster with superhuman powers. Although the tide of Shock Radio easily pulls you in, about halfway through, up to your ears in gore, contrivance, and cliche, you’ll be looking for a way out. C

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