'Shock Waves' (1977) - Zombie Movie Review

Updated on January 3, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

A woman aboard a small boat is rescued by a group of fishermen. The woman, disoriented and suffering from sunstroke, reacts with panic. Feeling attacked, she defends herself from her rescuers.

Her voice-over informs us about a horrible and traumatic experience that at times she doesn't know if it really happened or was a delusion. The rest of the story is basically a flashback of what happened to her.

The woman, named Rose (Brooke Adams) is part of a group of tourists who are on board a small commercial boat that doesn't seem to meet the standards of customer service.

But, apparently, this group of tourists wanted a different experience, so they convinced Captain Ben Morris (John Carradine), his right hand Keith (Luke Halpin) and chef Dobbs (Don Stout) to let them sail with them. The rest of the tourists are composed up of Chuck (Fred Buch) and married couple Norman (Jack Davidson) and Beverly (D.J. Sidney).

Within a few days, it's clear that the tourists weren't prepared for a hard life at sea with no luxuries. They even begin to question the ability of Captain Morris to navigate.

The complaints aren't completely absurd, though. After entering an eerie orange haze, the boat's navigation system has been completely damaged, leaving the vessel without a clear direction. The captain shows certainty that the problem will be easily solved (in addition to giving his own scientific theory about the haze's nature) and begins to get really hostile with the complaining attitude of his passengers.

However, everything will get worse. In the middle of the night, with Keith in charge of the boat and in total darkness, the boat is sideswiped by a hulking and imposing ship that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. The captain, furious at Keith, uses a flare gun to better determine what happened. What they find is even stranger: a rotting and spectral vessel wrecked at a distance.

The next day, everyone awakens with the revelation that the captain has disappeared and the boat is slowly and progressively sinking because of the collision. They're forced to abandon the ship and seek help on the nearby island.

On the island, they seek refuge in an abandoned luxury hotel that already generates a creepy feeling of something beautiful that was devastated by some horrible reason.

However, the group will discover that they're not alone. An enigmatic German old man (Peter Cushing), with a horrible scar on his face, has been living there for decades and their presence greatly disturbs him.

The creepy old man explains. He's an old SS commander in charge of an experimental infiltration elite group called "Death Corps", which was basically a group of aquatic Nazi zombies. I'll say it again: aquatic Nazi zombies. The creatures turned out to be impossible to control, so the old man decided to sink the ship in which they were on, many Kms from the island's shore.

Of course, his logic didn't make any sense. After all, we're talking about--I repeat--aquatic Nazi zombies. They have been able to walk underwater and reach the island. Bottom line: The aquatic Nazi zombies (I would never get tired of saying it) are back and their only purpose is to kill.

What's Your Rating For Shock Waves?

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Shock Waves has the enormous merit of packaging a story that clearly belongs to a B-Movie in a serious, credible and of good aesthetic quality presentation.

For this, Shock Waves is supported more in suspense and atmosphere than in gore and cathartic violence. A couple of deaths are shown on the screen, but the vast majority of them happen off-screen. The terror is more in the discovery of the corpses by the survivors, in a very intelligent move to show a hostile environment that slowly and progressively is preying on its unwanted visitors.

The cast does a great job with the material. They perfectly capture the impotence and confusion of being a stranded group on an unknown, menacing island. Brooke Adams is the beautiful scream queen with the right dose of charisma and talent.

But who really steals the focus is undoubtedly Peter Cushing (You know, Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, who was recently "CGI-revived" for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). His enigmatic nameless Nazi character manages to give credibility to a myth that otherwise would be perceived as absurd.

Cushing, like John Carradine, has a very brief appearance that leaves us wanting more. And in another movie, that would have been a negative thing.

Shock Waves offers an interesting twist to the genre, showing Nazi zombies in a surprised slow burn, mystery narrative structure that works beautifully.

Movie Details

Title: Shock Waves

Release Year: 1977

Director(s): Ken Wiederhorn

Actors: Peter Cushing, John Carradine, Brooke Adams a.o.

3 stars for Shock Waves (Zombie Movie Rating)

© 2019 Sam Shepards

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