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MOVIE REVIEWS

Shock Waves (1976)


TAGLINE
Once They Were Almost Human! Beneath the living...Beyond the dead...From the depths of Hell's Ocean! The Deep End of Horror!

Shock Waves on DVD
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There’s no question that zombie films make up their own subgenre of horror. What you might be able to question, is that there actually exists a subgenre of zombie horror movies… the nazi zombie movies. I guess that’s a sub-subgenre? I don’t subscribe to that notion, as I don’t think there are enough of them to make up a sub-subgenre. Though I could very well make a case for the sub-subgenre of "bad" zombie movies, because there are plenty of those. Shock Waves isn’t one of them, however.

During World War II, German scientists performed top-secret experiments in the paranormal and worked at creating an invincible super soldier. They succeeded on creating a squad of soldiers who were neither living, nor dead. Allied troops later spoke of battling with this elite SS unit, known as the Death Corps, who fought without weapons and killed with their bare hands. The allies never captured a single member of this SS unit.

Two couples looking for some leisure time on the ocean take a dive boat out for some relaxation. The boat’s captain (John Carradine) and first mate (Luke Halpin) expertly manage to shipwreck the boat near a remote island. Upon finding the home of a self-exiled Nazi commander (Peter Cushing) they all learn of the story of the undead super soldiers and what became of them. And unfortunately for the living, the troops are ready for service once again.

While the screenplay certainly has some holes in it and leaves a few questions unanswered, its doesn’t fall into the "painful" category. Though, there is a particularly head-scratching scene on the boat where the captain and his guests are talking about something that was ultimately cut from movie. You see, earlier in the day there was some type of solar "occurrence" that has everyone looking towards the sky. Then in the next scene, the captain is explaining it away as, "…a minor underwater disturbance. With the hot sky acting on the cold current coming from a mile down below." Huh? Apparently there was a scene where a skull and/or body parts were supposed to surface near the ship.

Ken Widerhorn’s direction was passable, but ultimately, I think it’s the acting that keeps this movie afloat…no pun intended. No, they’re not spectacular performances, but overall it’s pretty decent. As it should be expected, veteran actors Carradine (The Astro-Zombies) and Cushing (Star Wars) are the standouts, though I don’t think it’s on either one of their best roles lists. Brooke Adams (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and Halpin (Flipper) put in some honest work while the rest of the main cast are fairly forgettable. Though don’t discount the eight actors playing zombies. They did a yeoman’s job and seemed to take their roles very seriously, adding a lot of believability to the film. That’s saying a lot since they were cast from an ad put in the paper down on location in Florida.

These Nazi zombies look good for being some thirty plus years old. By that I mean they’re not very decomposed. To their credit, they are on the pasty side and they’re pretty wrinkled. You know how you get when you’re in the bubble bath, er…shower too long? Sorta like that. They’re still fairly creepy, though. Since we don’t know how exactly these guys were created, you could explain away the decomposition by some kind of anti-aging zombification serum. Maybe they used an early form of Dr. Herbert West’s good stuff. What’s more impressive is that their uniforms don’t look decayed at all. You can rationalize the zombies, but not the uniforms I’m afraid.

Shock Waves is the first film for director Ken Wiederhorn. Likewise, it’s the first film for all the credited screenwriters as well as the producer. Many of the film’s flaws can be attributed to the lack of experience, but even with its flaws, Shock Waves is very watchable and managed to attain a cult following over the years. I think there are a few reasons why.

First of all, it manages to escape what most zombie movies can’t…simply being a crappy movie. If you can at least be an average zombie film, with the glut of all the really bad ones, you’re destined to stick out among the crowd. Secondly, it’s a rather unique take on the undead. Only Zombie Lake really comes close to the premise of underwater Nazi zombies, and Shock Waves is head and shoulders above that dried-up piece of dead wood. Thirdly, there are a few very memorable scenes that will stick in your mind. For me, the best was the scene where all the undead Nazis rise up out of the water one by one and slowly head to shore. And lastly, you have the mere presence of John Carradine and Peter Cushing. Between the two, I think they’ve been in about a billion films and have both accumulated their own legions of fans throughout their career. Put it all together and you’ve got a flick that will continue to add to its following for quite some time to come.


FILM RATING

(Out of 5)
DVD RELEASE DATE
September 30, 2003
REVIEW POSTED
January 05 2004


DEAD KEV'S ADVICE
Shock Waves is average, but just a shade better than that. You'll find a few memorable scenes and a somewhat unique take on zombies. Worth renting for that, but you might wanna see it before you add it to your collection.
LESSONS LEARNED
1. When accosted by nazi zombies, try pulling off their goggles. If they're not wearing goggles...I guess you're screwed.
2. Don't hide in a walk-in refrigerator with someone who's claustrophobic.
3. Never fire a flare gun in an enclosed space...like a walk-in refrigerator.
FAVORITE QUOTES
-"Don't you know, we've been hit by a ghost ship."
-"The sea spits out what it can't keep down."
-"Sure we hit something, a school of canned tuna."
-"There is danger here. Danger in the water."


DIRECTOR
Ken Wiederhorn (Return of the Living Dead 2)
WRITERS
John Kent Harrison (Murder By Phone)
Ken Pare
PRODUCER
Reuben Trane (King Frat)
CAST CHARACTER
John Carradine Captain Ben
Brooke Adams Rose
Luke Halpin Keith
Jack Davidson Norman
D.J. Sidney Beverly
Fred Buch Chuck
Don Stout Dobbs
Peter Cushing SS Commander
Clarence Thomas Fisherman
PRODUCTION COMPANY
Zopix Company
STUDIO
Blue Underground
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
United States
RUNNING TIME MPAA RATING
85 mins R


INTERESTING TIDBITS
Shock Waves was inspired by the book 'The Morning of the Magicians' by Louis Pauwels.
Alan Ormsby did the makeup on Shock Waves. He was writer/actor in the zombie film Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things.
The production company name Zopix was short for "Zombie Pix."
AKA : Death Corps (1977); Almost Human (1977) [UK]
MEDIA
Trailer - Blue Underground
AROUND THE WEB
An Interview With Ken Wiederhorn - Blue Underground


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