Horror, Zombies

Shock Waves (1977)

Comments Off on Shock Waves (1977) 31 October 2014


Studio: Blue Underground

Theatrical Release: July 15, 1977

Blu Ray Release: November 25, 2014

Director: Ken Wiederhorn


Review by James Klein

I’m not quite sure where to begin with my review of Shock Waves. Considered to be a cult film, the film which stars Brooke Adams, Peter Cushing and John Carradine in a story revolving around Nazi zombies should be a film I would enjoy. Seeing it years ago, I was underwhelmed. While short, the film was just a boring little thriller. While the budget was low, the film didn’t seem to try very hard at being scary. Some characters were downright annoying and the basic plot or reason behind these zombies didn’t make much sense. Has my opinion changed?

Shock Waves begins almost like it wanted to be a Jaws-clone, with a small charter boat taking a few passengers on a cruise around the ocean. Captain Ben Morris (John Carradine who is always a pleasure to watch regardless of the film) is a crotchety old skipper who seems to just bark orders at his first mate, Keith (Luke Halpin, best known for Flipper and Mr. No Legs). When the boat goes through a strange orange light and soon gets lost in the mist, the Captain goes off to explore and ultimately winds up dead in the water.

As the boat springs a leak due to a strange looking freighter ship, the passengers and crew take refugee on a deserted island where an old abandoned hotel rests. As they look about, they come in contact with an old SS Commander (Peter Cushing) who they quickly find out was a Nazi during the war. But he wasn’t just a Nazi, he was in charge of The Death Corps, a raid of zombie soldiers who killed with their bare hands. When the Germans couldn’t control them any longer, they were sent off to the island, never to be seen again.

Although it is never explained, the Nazi soldiers suddenly start rising out of the ocean ready to kill off everyone they come in contact with. Was it the strange light that awoke these killers? Was it the freighter ship that hit the charter boat? Or was it the screenwriters not bothering to explain?

The real problem though isn’t just the screenplay, its the slow pace and off screen bloodless kills. These zombies are just not scary looking nor do we ever see their strength that is bragged about during the movie. And why is it that they can’t see when their goggles are taken off? Carradine, Cushing, nor Brooke Adams in a bikini could keep me from falling asleep. With a running time of 85 minutes, it felt like 185.

Not making matters any worse, the picture quality is downright awful. Now, let me start by saying this is by no means Blue Underground’s fault. They have proven time and time again that they take pride in their transfers and have shown a great appreciation to the genre, despite if one likes or dislikes a movie. The problem is that the original negative has been lost and this version has been taken from the only known source material. With that in mind, I forgive the poor, grainy, faded picture. The mono soundtrack is fine although it would have been nice to have heard the sounds of the splashing or the creepy score by Richard Einhorn in the rear speakers. The sound could have been much more full.

Blue Underground does give a wide range of special features. There is a commentary track by Weiderhorn, Alan Ormsby who did the make up effects and filmmaker and fan, Fred Olen Ray. There are interviews with Adams (she is so old now, my childhood crush is a granny), Halpin, Einhorn, and producer/cinematographer Reuben Trane (he has some interesting stories, my favorite is that Cushing cost 10% of the movies budget when he only worked for five days) Throw in some trailers and radio spots and fans will enjoy the vast array of special features.

I just don’t get the love or admiration of Shock Waves. What is it I am missing? All I see is a dull, un-suspenseful, poorly written, low budget horror film.

Rating Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★½☆☆


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