Retro Movie Review: Shock Waves (1977)

May 26, 2011

by Peter Nielsen

“Once they were almost human! Beneath the living… Beyond the dead…

From the depths of Hell’s ocean! The deep end of horror!”

It’s a beautiful day in a tropical paradise somewhere and Rose, played by Brooke Adams (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Dead Zone), is enjoying a swim in the clear ocean whilst the tour-boat she’s on, is being repaired. It’s obvious that it’s not a new boat, it has broken down before, and some of the other vacationers are kind of grumpy about that. All of a sudden the sky turn a yellowish color and strange noises are heard from the depths.

No one can explain it and the captain disregards it as nothing more than a strange occurrence. Later that evening some of the passengers complain about that and the state of disrepair the boat is in. The captain, played by the legendary John Carradine (the man has more than 300 credits to his name, for Christ’s sake), tells them that they don’t know what they’re talking about and that they should basically mind their own business.

Hmmm... now where did I park my sub?

Hmmm… now where did I park my sub?

That same night, the boat is hit by a large ship seemingly coming out of nowhere, damaging the smaller vessel so much that they have to abandon it. The mysterious dark ship appears to be deserted and old. The next morning the crew and passengers row ashore on a nearby island and take shelter in a desolate and abandoned (well, almost abandoned) hotel. It’s inhabited by an old SS Commander who’s been living there since the end of World War II.

He tells them they’re in great danger and should leave the island right away. When asked why, he tells them of a secret experiment performed by the German government during the war. They made so called super-soldiers out of the dead bodies of psychopaths and murderers. Soldiers who didn’t need food, water or even air. Soldiers who killed without remorse and with their bare hands. Unstoppable! Unfeeling! They were able to adapt to any environment they were put into… desert, snow or even water.

Surf Nazi's must die... indeed!

Surf Nazi’s must die… indeed!

This is were the zombies come in! With black goggles and nazi uniforms they stride across the bottom of the ocean. They come from the mysterious ship that collided with the cruise-boat earlier, seeking the survivors. They don’t want their flesh… They don’t want their brains… They just want them dead! Plain and simple!

The killings themselves are blood- and gore-less and happens fairly quickly. There’s not even much fighting with the zombies, but what we DO get in abundance though, is a creepy and unsettling atmosphere. The scenes where they suddenly appear out of the ocean are genuinely scary.

That is one nasty scar!

That is one nasty scar!

What also helps setting the mood is an eerie and disturbing electronic score, composed by Richard Einhorn.

The director Ken Wiederhorn (King Frat, Return of the Living Dead Part II), has made a great little movie with a rather small budget and a largely unknown cast, apart from Mr. Carradine and also Peter Cushing who plays the aging SS Commander. Mr. Cushing you of course know from, among countless titles, such classics as Horror of Dracula, Star Wars and Horror Express. The other “semi-known” actor is Luke Halpin who had mostly worked in television (the Flipper TV-show) and also in Mako: The Jaw of Death.

But having mostly unknowns cast in a movie like this works to its advantage, I think. I like Shock Waves! It’s slow-paced, but never boring, and a deliciously creepy little horror-gem. Sure, there are plot-holes big enough to drive a bus through sometimes, but, hey… In a movie like this, they’re to be ignored. Enjoy the movie for what it is and you’ll do just fine.

And with that, my friends, I’ll leave you, so until next time… Make sure to check the water before you go for a swim!

And I don’t mean the temperature.


Retro Movie Geek © 2015