Shock Waves (1977)

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“Visitors to a remote island discover that a reclusive Nazi commandant has been breeding a group of Zombie soldiers.” — IMDb

I AM SUCH A SUCKER FOR NAZI ZOMBIES. Don’t ask me why, but my love was ignited when I first saw Dead Snowand now Shock Waves has just sealed the deal (really, it’s too bad I didn’t see them in reverse order).

A group of tourists are on a commercial boat and they start having some engine issues, naturally (because any time there is a boat in a horror movie expect some shit to go down). They see this eerie orange glow which perplexes everyone and sort of sets the mood, and soon its nighttime and they sideswipe an unknown object before spotting the apparent carcass of a huge vessel nearby. By morning they realize that not only is the captain missing but the boat is taking on water, so they escape via a dinghy to a nearby island where they find said captain… dead on the shore. They look around for help and find an old rundown hotel with a single reclusive resident (played by the awesome Peter Cushing). It turns out that the mysterious vessel they spotted had been previously sunk by Cushing, a retired SS Commander, because it contained The Death Corps, ultra-powerful aquatic soldiers that were meant to be a secret weapon for the Nazis during World War II but proved to be impossible to control. When Cushing realizes the soldiers are back, now zombified, he is convinced they are doomed… and he may be right.

** SPOILERS! **

The story itself vaguely reminded me of “Dagon”, a short story by H.P. Lovecraft — not in all aspects, of course, but the boat landing on shore, a monster that lives in the water, and the survivor going mad re-telling the story.

It is not your typical zombie movie in many senses. I mean, not only are they NAZI ZOMBIES (yesss), but they operate almost exclusively in the water. It’s not nearly as gory as one might expect (or want) a zombie movie to be, but, honestly, I didn’t mind that. It was just quirky and weird enough for me to not expect it to adhere to normal zombie standards. They also have a cool look to them — still the white, dead looking zombies that you expect, but with more water-logged goodness!

There’s a few particularly badass scenes. The glass bottom dinghy gliding over the dead body of the captain, for one. The first few scenes of the zombie soldiers emerging from the ship and walking, fully clothed, underwater… so freaking cool. Just this slow motion dread. The side shot of the zombies rising up out of the water… unnggghhh so good.

The score — done by Richard Einhorn in his feature film debut — was pretty awesome as well.

Overall, not the strongest plot in the world and the movie generally lacks a good deal of action (or strong character development), but it has this air of dread to it that I enjoyed — and, again, with waterlogged Nazi zombies, how can you really go wrong?

Rating: 6/10 | Director: Ken Wiederhorn | Writer: Ken Wiederhorn, John Kent Harrison | Music: Richard Einhorn | Starring: Peter Cushing, John Carradine, Brooke Adams, Fred Buch, Jack Davidson, Luke Halpin, D.J. Sidney, Don Stout

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