Combat Shock (1984)

R  |   |  Drama, Horror, Thriller  |  14 May 1986 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,888 users  
Reviews: 50 user | 62 critic

A dangerously disturbed Vietnam veteran struggles with life 15 years after his return home, and slowly falls into insanity from his gritty urban lifestyle.



(as Buddy G)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rick Giovinazzo ...
Frankie Dunlan (as Ricky Giovinazzo)
Veronica Stork ...
Cathy Dunlan
Mitch Maglio ...
Paco - Gang Leader
Asaph Livni ...
Labo - Gang Member
Nick Nasta ...
Morbe - Gang Member
Mike - Junkie
Arthur Saunders ...
Lori Labar ...
Lead Prostitute / Vietnamese Woman
Jim Cooney ...
Interogating GI
Ray Pinero ...
Welfare Worker
Leo Lunney ...
Frankie's Father
Terry - Strung-Out Junkie (as Ed Pepitone)
Martin Blank ...
Bob Mireau ...
Security Guard
Tom Desantis ...
Man Behind Frankie


Frankie is a war vet whose life sucks. He has no money, a nagging wife, junkie friends, and a deformed baby. This is the story of one day in his pathetic post-war life. Written by Josh Pasnak <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Fighting, killing, maiming. Agent orange and the torture cages were the easy part!...


Drama | Horror | Thriller | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 May 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Nightmare  »

Box Office


$40,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Buddy Giovinazzo partially funded this film with money from his own wedding. See more »


When Frankie inspects the revolver drum magazine after loading it, some of the cartridges have a dent in the primer made by a firing pin, meaning that they've already been fired. See more »


Cathy Dunlan: [looking to Frankie] You're not looking for a job... you're waiting for the world to end...
See more »


Featured in Adjust Your Tracking (2013) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Stark urban nightmare!
29 March 2001 | by (Parkton, MD) – See all my reviews

"Combat Shock' differs from most Troma releases it that it is not "intentionally" cheap and idiotic (a la "A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell" to name but one, of many). Filmed amidst the squalor of inner city slums, and admittedly mounted with an ultra-low budget, this initial film of Director Buddy Giovinazzo is a stark portrait of urban poverty and hopelessness that is both repellent and somehow, captivating, despite the amateurish thesping & technical execution.

Definitely not a film for everyone, this picture paints a bleak portrait of a veteran GI and former POW, Frankie Dunlan (played by Rick Giovinazzo, brother of the Director), whose memories of his experiences in Viet-Nam have left him functionally deficient upon his return to civilian life. Incapable of holding a job, but saddled with the responsibilities of supporting a wife and deformed child ( a side effect of his Agent-Orange exposure), Frankie awakens each day to a dead-end future, with no perceivable way out. He eventually comes to grips with his hopeless situation in a stark and shocking climax.

This film will never win any acting awards, but the overall milieu is realistically captured and the final effect is powerful, albeit depressing in the extreme.

Worth viewing (particularly via the Troma DVD, released in '98), despite the production drawbacks. And kudos to Troma for being the (only) apparent distribution firm willing to release this film. Troma also recently rescued Dario Argento's "The Stendahl Syndrome" from distribution limbo, so despite Lloyd Kaufman's (Troma topliner and tacit "official" spokesman)outright pandering to the video market's lowest (and I mean lowest) common denominator, he proves that, at least once in a while, he has some genuine "Taste".

9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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