Shock Waves (1976)
|Once They Were Almost Human! Beneath
the living...Beyond the dead...From the depths of
Hell's Ocean! The Deep End of Horror!
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
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.
(Out of 5)
|September 30, 2003
|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.
|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
3. Never fire a flare gun in an enclosed space...like
a walk-in refrigerator.
|-"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."
|Ken Wiederhorn (Return of the Living Dead 2)
|John Kent Harrison (Murder By Phone)
|Reuben Trane (King Frat)
|COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
|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
|AKA : Death Corps (1977); Almost Human
|Trailer - Blue Underground
|An Interview With Ken Wiederhorn - Blue Underground
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