REVIEW: Shock Waves

Ah Shock Waves. No other type of zombie is more famous than the Nazi zombie and although modern zombie hounds might think that Dead Snow is the premier example of this, they are in fact wrong. One of the earliest forms (possibly the first form) of Nazi zombies stems from a 1977 film called Shock Waves. It has since become somewhat of a cult classic and I was somewhat fortunate to watch it. Essentially, it’s about a group of people who go out onto the ocean to enjoy a peaceful time of relaxation and I guess none of these people know each other because it’s sort of like a tour boat or something. Well, the boat runs aground and they end up being stranded on a deserted island with an old abandoned hotel. They soon discover that an exiled Nazi scientist who created a battalion of undead super soldiers that were buried beneath the ocean occupies the hotel. Terror ensues when the battalion rises from the murky depths to kill everybody on the island. Really, the only thing this film had going for it was the zombie Nazis and nothing else; everything else seemed pretty bland.

Brooke Adams plays our heroine who some people may recognize from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Dead Zone but to be honest, she isn’t interesting in this film at all and it’s sort of funny. It seems like the main cast is completely overshadowed by the supporting cast, specifically two people, who don’t have nearly enough screen time. Veteran actors Peter Cushing and John Carradine lend themselves to make the movie interesting. Carradine’s over the top crotchy portrayal as the ship’s captain makes for a good laugh now and then, especially when he brings up the ghost ship. Peter Cushing is calm, reserved and charismatic as always and I think he has a great character. I could just see this man’s story: famed and decorated SS Commander/scientist who was once very prestigious and courteous, now washed up, dirty, old, forgotten and living in secluded exile. It’s tragic but deserving. The rest of the cast isn’t bad but I gather that this was an indie movie so the occasional bad acting is fine and even adds to that cheesy 70’s charm.

Personally, I think it’s the zombies that really add the flavor to this film mainly because their presence gives the scene an ominous, menacing mood that is otherwise not there at all. Unlike Dead Snow, these zombies aren’t fully decorated in SS uniforms nor do they have the appearance of a rotting corpse. Here, they are dressed in very casually while still maintaining that Nazi look but their faces are just pale and wrinkled. It may be cheap but it accomplishes so much. They walk slowly, they practically appear out of nowhere, they stare at you from afar, they grab you and kill you underneath the water and they don’t eat you. If you walked into this movie not knowing anything about it or an explanation from the film, you’d think that they are just an army of killers. They are so cold and emotionless that they are almost human in a sense and not an undead monster.

I think that Shock Waves trucks along at relatively slow pace and naturally I feel more happier when I get to see people stalked by Nazis and that doesn’t really happen until the last 20 minutes of the movie. Otherwise, I was somewhat bored by this film. I’m sure that if I saw this at a young age I would be creeped out by it but right now I think the mood is really bland unless you throw the Nazis into it. I’m find with questionable acting and very little action but there should be a tradeoff like a tense or menacing mood throughout the entire thing. It’s not bad, especially for an indie movie (or so I think) but it’s just boring at times. I’m sure they are bound to remake it but then it would nothing but blood, guts and nudity but since this movie should be heavily based on atmosphere, that’s the direction a remake should go in as well. I’m sure that I’ll come by this movie again and maybe then I’ll be more lenient on it.

Available on Amazon.

About Rick Romanowski

Undead reviewer and owner of Paradise of Horror!