Combat Shock (1984)

R  |   |  Drama, Horror, Thriller  |  14 May 1986 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,889 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?


The wardrobe was purchased from the Salvation Army. 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: Taste it!
See more »


Referenced in Half Past Midnight (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

This is further proof that the films Troma distributes are far better than the films they make themselves
28 October 2006 | by (Worcester, MA) – See all my reviews

This is further proof that the films Troma distributes are far better than the films they make themselves. Don't be fooled by the cover depicting a "Rambo"-style bloodbath. This is a grim and harrowing portrait of a Vietnam vet's hell. Sure, the production values aren't great, but they add to the raw feel of the film. This isn't a film that'll uplift you (with the exception of feeling happy this isn't your life depicted). However, it is a powerful if impoverished film that must be seen.

There isn't much explicit violence for the first hour or so (with the exception of some Vietnam flashbacks). It depicts a veteran roaming the streets trying to make money yet maintain a sense of morality. He finds it difficult to be a good human being when he looks at the scum around him. He's in debt to a local loan shark, his only friend is a junkie, his wife nags him, and his baby was deformed by agent orange. Between what he has to take and his memories of Saigon, he finally snaps at the end.

This isn't an exploitation film as many may assume. Its obvious the director wanted to create something heartfelt and realistic about the trauma experienced by vets. He couldn't get anyone to finance it except Troma, who were known for schlock such as "Class of Nuke 'Em High". The baby is another notable aspect. Outside of "Eraserhead", there isn't a more disturbing deformed child caught on camera. The ending when he finally loses (reminding one of "Taxi Driver") is predictable but still powerful. There are scenes however that subtly show the main character to be a multi-dimensional person with feelings. He tries to talk to a child prostitute and help her only to be attacked by her pimp. Most distressing of all is the scene in which he calls his father (who thought he died in Saigon) to ask for money. Some have criticized the Vietnam flashbacks as being painfully low budget and obviously shot in New Jersey. They certainly don't look accurate but they do have a dreamlike feel that adds to the dementia of the character. Overall, this isn't a perfect film but is a memorable one. (7/10)

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