Shock Waves (1977)

Article #1606 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-7-2005
Posting Date: 1-4-2006
Directed by Ken Wiederhorn
Featuring Peter Cushing, John Carradine, Brooke Adams

Survivors of a boat wreck find themselves on an island terrorized by underwater zombies, the product of Nazi experimentation.

My DVD of this movie has a quote calling it “The best of the Nazi Zombie movies”, and it may be; truth of the matter, I had to strain to think of others I’ve seen, and the only one I could dredge up (REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES) wasn’t much competition to begin with. And when I checked the “nazi-zombie” category on IMDB, I didn’t see anything there that would give this movie a run for its money. Yet, I have to say that if this movie is the best of the subgenre, I feel it’s more by default than by this movie’s intrinsic strengths.

The movie’s strengths are easy to see; it has the novelty value of giving us both Peter Cushing and John Carradine together for the first time; it’s too bad that the character played by the latter is already dead before the character played by the former shows up, so they have no scenes together. The make-up is quite striking, and the scenes of the zombies walking underwater and rising up from the waves are very effective. Unfortunately, the movie uses them so much they lose their effectiveness; after the umpteenth shot of a zombie poking his head out of the water and then ducking back down, I was ready to move on. The movie also has a weak script and some poor editing; many of the characters are left undeveloped, some of the scenes seem to be happening at random, and often it’s difficult to figure out where the zombies are in relation to the human characters. The droning and repetitive soundtrack is eerie enough, but has too little variation to be really effective and it also tends to make each scene of the movie feel more or less like all the others. It’s a shame; the basic premise and situations here show a lot of promise, and with a better script, more assured direction and a stronger sense of pace, this one could have been a knockout rather than a mixed bag.


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