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This is a great little film that combines two of the 70s most popular
horror movie themes: monsters in the water and undead zombies. It also
features the always-wonderful Brooke Adams (from "Invasion of the Body
Snatchers") in a major role, not to mention both John Carradine and
A group of vacationers being taken on a cruise around some unspecified tropical islands experiences some trouble when a decades-old ship appears out of nowhere and rams their boat. The "ghost ship" is populated by undead SS soldiers who were created to survive both underwater and on land, and it goes without saying that they have no friendly intentions.
The new castaways take refuge on an island inhabited solely by Peter Cushing, a former Nazi commander who was in charge of the "Death Corps", and their host gives them a hasty explanation about what they're all up against.
The rest of the film is the tourists and sailors being stalked and offed by the zombies, who have really wrinkled skin and wear groovy goggles. Unlike the standard flesh-eating zombies of 70s horror, these undead guys don't wanna bite you, they just wanna hold you under the water until the bubbles stop. Genre fans hoping for some cannibalism or guts will be disappointed.
The visuals in the movie are sometimes striking. The underwater shots of the zombies are bizarre, as are the scenes of them rising up out of the ocean (or whatever body of water happens to be handy). Most of the action takes place on the island, which features a deserted resort that is pretty creepy in itself. A couple of the shots reminded me of "Carnival of Souls", with one or two scenes of undead faces looming just under the surface of the water.
The editing is a bit choppy and slightly incoherent. It seems like a few scenes establishing the characters were excised, as well as some other exposition such as the fate of the tourists's boat (what DID happen to it, after all?). The pacing is also not for all tastes, since this movie never builds into a all-out assault or anything, but it's an enjoyably creepy chiller in the classic 70s style. This is a prime candidate for DVD rediscovery. Watch it if you can find it.
'Shock Waves' is a low budget horror movie with few special effects... actually not very special effects at all. We're talking a half a dozen "zombies" which are basically people in Nazi uniforms holding their breath underwater. The cast apart from Brooke Adams ('Invasion Of The Body Snatchers', 'The Dead Zone') are unknowns, with guest appearances from horror legends John Carradine and Peter Cushing. One would think this would be a real turkey only good for a few laughs, but not so, it's a surprisingly effective thriller with atmosphere to spare. One of the reasons I enjoy horror movies is that creative directors are capable of making something special out of virtually nothing. 'Carnival Of Souls' and 'Night Of The Living Dead' are obvious examples. El cheapo budgets, unknown actors, minimal effects, but two of the greatest horror movies ever made. I'm not saying 'Shock Waves' is anywhere near THAT good, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected from the cheesy packaging on the video box. The concept of underwater Nazi zombies is an intriguing one, and was subsequently used by Jean Rollin and Jess Franco in 'Zombie Lake' and 'Oasis Of The Zombies'. I always enjoy seeing John Carradine, but his role is, let's be honest, little more than a cameo. I have a major crush on Brooke Adams, she's goofy but beautiful, and admirers won't want to miss this one as she spends most of her time in a bikini. One minor complaint - I wished Peter Cushing had more screen time. He's my favourite horror actor after Vincent Price and I always enjoy his performances. All in all 'Shock Waves' is an underrated and creepy movie that all horror buffs should try and see. It's just one of many overlooked 1970s horror gems that deserve more attention than they get (see also 'Count Yorga, Vampire', 'The Brotherhood Of Satan', 'The Crazies', 'The Legend Of Hell House', 'Deranged', 'Alice, Sweet Alice', 'Thirst',etc.etc.)
A group of survivors off a boat disaster became stranded on an island-
but that's not their main problem. As now a hermit informs them that
the island isn't safe as there are invincible Nazis zombies that lay
dormant off the island- but it's to late as they have risen after 35
years from the sea and now they're back to their old ways.
For an incredibly low-budget film this was definitely enjoyable and a bit inventive in the execution. If you think it's going to be like your usual zombie film forget it. There is no flesh eating and it lacks gore actually there isn't any at all. There is no action packed scenes of zombies and people getting blown away or cut up, as the deaths happen to be pretty quick and sharp. Some we don't even get to see. The deaths might be paced really slowly, unimaginatitive and even bloodless. But I didn't mind, as the point wasn't to shock the audience with violence, but the use of atmosphere and images to keep them captivated and at unease.
The plot idea of the living dead was a very intriguing one Nazis have produced invincible soldiers for WW2 that can adapt to any habitat because they could live without food and oxygen, with the sole purpose to kill. But when war was over, their U-boat was sunk so they weren't found out. The story itself does get a bit repetitive and some plot holes show up that are pretty transparent and might get on people's nerves. Like why did the Nazi zombies decide to surface now after laying dormant for 35 years. What happen to the pleasure boat and in the first 5 minutes we learn who survives, so now where just trying to figure out what order they will die in, which for some could be quite tedious and less suspenseful, but for me the film's flaws made up for it with memorable images of the Nazi soldiers called 'Death Corps', a sombre atmosphere, alluring setting and Cushing & Carradine to ground it.
The special effects well there were hardly any, with the exception of the usual rotting corpse - but the make-up of the Death Corps are definitely striking and kind of creepy. Especially when they're lurking in or around the water. I don't know why, but there is something pretty hypnotic about them when they pop out of nowhere in their black goggles. Though their skin is quite pasty and pale, but their uniforms look like they haven't aged at all.
The lush scenery on the island ranges from the waterlogged swamps; rich beaches, dense forests and the large deserted hotel are quite haunting with the eerie feel of isolation and dread. The electronic score with its vibrant sounds, adds another element into the mix of the very absorbing mood of the atmosphere.
The direction by Ken Wiederhorn is a bit uneven and slow, but for me the slow pace really built up the anxiety and tension of the situation. With a slow opening, until the Death Corps arrive on the screen, though the pace doesn't entirely pick up as there are slow parts in between the deaths. But the images we see keep you glued to the screen. Wiederhorn might have over-used the 'Death Corps', but somehow you forgive him for the repetitiveness.
The acting from Cushing and Carradine is superb and the rest of the mainly no-name cast was reasonably fair. As the characters they play are pretty stereotypical and one-dimensional. Peter Cushing as the enigmatic Nazi SS Commander that was formerly in-charge of the Death Corps, but is now a marooned hermit and John Carradine as the Boat's grumpy Sea Captain Ben had only small roles and it was too bad that they didn't share any screen time. But otherwise they still left their marks (especially Cushing's speech on the Death Corps). While the lesser known cast Brooke Adams as the female lead in her first film is delightfully sweet and Luke Haplin as the Captains first mate takes the lead and the courageous heroine role.
The film itself is filled with ambiguity from beginning to end, but because of that it gives it a dreamlike and mysterious feel that you question did this really happen? It's hardly flawless entertainment, but still a very charming low-budget horror film.
The Boneventure is out on a holiday cruise. The captain (John
Carradine) and his salty crew are taking their passengers on a cruise
they'll all never forget
if they live that long. The cruise is soon cut
short as they are run into by a huge rusty ship that strands them on a
reef. The survivors make their way to a dilapidated and rundown island
resort whose only occupant (Peter Cushing) is a man with a terrible
past that returns to haunt them all. When long dormant SS soldiers
(created through nefarious means) come ashore the bodies begin to pile
Ken Wiederhorn (of Return of the Living Dead part II fame) helms this solid (and even sometimes creepy) horror flick. "Shock Waves" moves at a quick pace with a good, solid cast (with some genre vets). The music score is pretty good as is the overall script. "Shock Waves" is good fun.
Real movie summary: A U-boat with WW2 Nazi soldiers, killed and brought back to life to fight as "un-killable", is ship-wrecked on a Caribbean island. 30 yrs later, a "hire-boat" is also shipwrecked there. The Nazi commander of the unit, Cushing, is the only "survivor" on the island. BUT, the "Zombie un-killables" come back to do what they were experimentally used to do in battle ... kill without thought or feeling... uncontrollably... The movie has numerous images that stay with you long after the movie is over, and a musical background in the beginning which was very haunting. Good acting, a believable script, and nice film shooting, round it out to make it a memorable classic. I've had a really tough time locating the film at any video store. Good luck finding it!
I rented this film a few years ago strictly because I was a fan of Peter Cushing. I thought "Hm - Underwater Nazi Zombies? This should be fun." I had a mental image of Cushing running around in some green velvet Victorian jacket and a full head of hair opening cages and sending zombies off to do his bidding. Boy was I wrong. I got a grainy, dark, brooding little 70s movie that kept me looking over my shoulder. Pete looks terrible in a torn uniform, scarred face and bald pate. His performance is brief but striking. The rest of the cast (John Carradine - excepted) is fairly unfamiliar. This makes it all the more terrifying. They could be your neighbours being chased around and murdered by these horrifying monsters. And the zombies are some of the scarriest on film. They don't scream, or eat anybody. They just bob out of the water staring through black goggles and cut a path of destruction across the island. Wonderful. Contrasting to what I expected, this amazed me. It has since become one of my all time favourite horror films. It sure scared me more than Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Kind of a letdown there. But then I always could trust in Cushing.
Ken Wiederhorn, who went on to direct the dull EYES OF A STRANGER, hits
celluloid paydirt with this thoughtful, creepy and lyrical horror
Mostly a work of effective moments, its images of dead Nazi soldiers emerging from the sea and advancing towards a distant shoreline have never left me or lost their power to evoke a sense of horror.
The story is a simple one, as the best horror stories are. Members of The Death Corps, an SS unit never apprehended by Allied Forces, return to menace holidaymakers with a little help from a friend.
The moderate pacing works in favor of the off-kilter narrative and the numerous sequences in which the undead soldiers attack the living are swift and highly effective.
Peter Cushing turns in a small but sincere performance, as does genre stalwart John Carradine.
Score by Richard Einhorn is memorable.
SHOCK WAVES has nothing in common with recent Hollywood horror films, but it has plenty in common with mostly unseen (outside their country of origin) Japanese horror outings such as LIVING SKELETON.
This film isn't a big budget film which may put off some viewers from the outset. It is very good if you're into this kind of thing though. The horror is not too explicit, but is more suggestive, and this actually makes the film genuinely creepy in parts. The performances are a little amateurish by the lower cast members, but Peter Cushing is in commanding- if all too brief - form and John Carradine gives a good perf. Brooke Adams also registers well in her acting debut. The plot is daft yet manages to convince, mainly because there is a really neat exposition scene in which Cushing explains what is going on. He's such a persuasive actor that even though the whole idea is so preposterous, when he says it you kind of feel compeeled to believe him. I rate this flick and would hope that anyone reading this at the moment would go out of their way to try to see it. It's worth the time and has a weirdly effective way of sticking in your mind for a long time afterwards.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most fellow Horror/Exploitation fans will probably agree that
Nazi-Zombies are usually a guarantee for ludicrously silly sleaze
flicks, such as Jean Rollin's hilarious, beyond awful "Le Lac Des Morts
Vivants" ("Zombie Lake", 1981) and Jess Franco's "L'Aimbe Des Morts
Vivants" ("Oasis of the Zombies", 1981). However, this is not the case
with the film that started the short-lived trend of (underwater)
Nazi-Zombies, Ken Wiederholm's "Shock Waves" of 1977, starring Horror
icons Peter Cushing and John Carradine. "Shock Waves" is a rather
creepy and atmospheric Horror film which is surprisingly gore- and
sleaze-less. Actually, the focus is set entirely on the suspense here,
as there is no nudity and all the killings are quite tame (especially
by the violent late 70s standards).
The film begins with a short explanation about Nazi experiments to create a race of invulnerable super-warriors. John Carradine plays an elderly captain who is shipping a bunch of tourists around. When they collide with an apparent ghost-ship by night, the tourists seek refuge on an apparently deserted island. Not a good idea, as for the last thirty-something years, the island has been serving as a hideout for a sinister elite SS-Commander (Peter Cushing) and his army of undead Nazi-Warriors...
Though the film starts a little slowly, it builds up a creepy atmosphere. Cushing and Carradine are great as always, though I lament the fact that both of them had a rather short screen time. Especially Cushing, doubtlessly one of the true deities of the Horror genre, is very sinister and diabolical as the SS-Commander. The armies of undead Nazis rising from the water are creepy as hell, the location is great, and the score nicely underlines the suspense.
It has to be said that this is technically not the first film about Nazi-Zombies - "Revenge of the Zombies" of 1943 (also starring John Carradine) supposedly already had a similar topic (though I haven't yet seen that film, and therefore cannot confirm this with certainty). "Shock Waves" is definitely the film that started the trend in the 80s, however, a classic of its kind and a creepy little film. See it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
- Shock Waves makes the third zombie-Nazi movie I've watched (or at
least tried to watch). Previously, I've seen Zombie Lake, which is so
bad it's quite funny, and I've tried to watch Oasis of the Zombies but
can't seem to stay awake to finish it. So my experiences with
zombie-Nazi movies hasn't been too good. Shock Waves, however, is a
totally different animal. It's actually good.
- The plot is quite simple. IMDb brief plot outline sums it up perfectly - "This horror movie concerns a shipwrecked yachting party. Rose (Brooke Adams) and her fellow yacht-mates, including the captain (John Carradine) run aground on an island when they hit an odd-looking freighter. Once beached, they meet up with an aging SS Commander (Peter Cushing) who had been in charge of a crew of zombies." What the shipwrecked passengers don't realize is that just off-shore, the zombies lie in wait.
- Shock Waves isn't your typical gun-munching zombie movie. In fact, there's very little in the way of gore to be found. Instead, the movie relies on a heavy, foreboding atmosphere to create horror. And it's quite effective. From the very beginning, the sense of dread is real and omnipresent. The open ocean, the island with it's twisted trees and swamps, and the deserted hotel all add to the atmosphere. In addition, rarely have I heard a musical score that was so perfect in setting the tone of a movie. The score effectively sent chills down my spine. And, unlike a lot of horror movies, other than a few of Carradine's scenes in the beginning of the movie, there's very little humor to take away from the atmosphere.
- For such a low budget film, the acting is excellent. While Carradine and Cushing have little more than cameos, both add an air of sophistication and authority. Once again, Cushing proves that no matter how far-fetched the script, he can make a viewer believe anything. I also enjoyed the performances of Adams and Luke Halpin of Flipper fame. Maybe it's just me, but Halpin comes across as a poor man's Brad Pitt. The rest of the cast is noteworthy in that they are effective in their given roles.
- My biggest complaint about Shock Waves is also one of my favorite moments. The first time we see the zombies rise from the ocean in mass, it's quite a scene. It's a signature type moment that I'll remember for a long time. But, the second time we see the zombies rise, it's not as effective. But by the time we see the zombies come out of the water for a third or fourth time, it begins to feel like filler. Once was good - the second time was pushing it - the third time was one too many.
- In the end, I'm certainly glad I didn't let my past experiences with similar movies stop me from seeing Shock Waves. It's great.
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