46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2006
Saw the trailer for this as a sophomore in high school, circa 1977. The second I saw the begoggled undead shock troops emerge from the ocean I was hooked - SHOCK WAVES has gone on to be my favorite low-budget film of all time, and I've seen a-plenty. No cannibalism here, no gore, no entrails - just bizarre, creepy atmosphere to burn and the claustrophic paranoia that is at the very heart of this classic Florida-shot mood piece. And if that ain't enough, you also have John Carradine, Peter Cushing, Luke Halpin (all grown up from his "Flipper" days) and the excellent Brooke Adams, who wears a bathing suit better than anyone since Julie Adams (no relation as far as I know) in CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Blue Underground has done an excellent job with this package. In addition to enlightening, entertaining commentary from director/co-writer Ken Wiederhorn, filmmaker/photographer Fred Olen Ray and make-up designer Alan Ormsby, there is a wealth of advert media: original trailer, a Luke Halpin interview, TV and radio spots and a gallery of stills and newspaper ads for double feature and drive-in showings. To have this in your library is to have a bona-fide minimalist cult classic. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!!
75 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2002
First, let me say that I like the 1975 horror flick "Shock Waves." Secondly, it must be the only film in history that has Peter Cushing, John Carradine, Brooke Adams AND scuba Nazis. After years of struggling to find this little known creepfest on video, I am pleased to see it has finally been released on DVD.
What I noticed after watching this film again recently (...), was how reliant "Shock Waves" was on mood and atmosphere to create its horror. Director Ken Wiederhorn has draped his film with creepy images of gothic mansions and decaying laboratories and, of course, hungover android Nazis standing on the ocean horizon, ready to destroy every living thing within sight.
Unlucky travelers, among them Brooke Adams and Fred Buch (?!), are in the wrong place at the wrong time when they are stranded on an island whose only inhabitant seems to be Peter Cushing in an old dark house. Van Helsing he's not. In fact, Ol' Pete's a former SS scientist who created a race of underwater-breathing Nazi androids for use as WW II submarine commanders. Naturally, these Aryan zombies are accidently released into what is already is very weird environment. Complete with tattered SS uniforms, black jack boots and dark sunglasses, these...scuba soldiers proceed to crush every thing in their path, including one especially artificial-looking shark.
But the mood is the key, and this flick thrives on a foreboding, ominous tone. In "Shock Waves," the trees are covered with hanging moss (this film must take place off the coast of the southern United States), walls are streaked with mold and cobwebs, the wind is constantly blowing, odd noises can be heard in the darkness, and then you have a manic John Carradine spouting gibberish as if he were still acting out the opening scene in "The Grapes of Wrath."
When watching "Shock Waves" today, I am reminded of many of those terrible Italian zombie films from the same period, in which unlucky travelers are stranded on an island and soon become the appetizers of the hungry undead. This film, thankfully, is not as graphically violent as those repulsive extravaganzas. In fact, "Shock Waves" relies far more on suspense and mood than violence.
If ever a film was deserving of cult status, the unique and utterly bizarre "Shock Waves" certainly is. For those not yet acquainted with its eerie allure, this Nazi-zombie-shocker will be a pleasant surprise.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2010
The 70's was the breeding ground for great horror films. The mainstream audiance was being treated to a slur of religious themed horror films (Exorcist, its sequel, The Omen, Beyond The Door) etc, and there was a big underground scene going on. In 1977, this indie shocker crept to theatres and made a small impact. But it's reputation since then has grown and it has been dubbed a classic, rightfully so. Of course there are many clones, the most obvious being the truely horrible Zombie Lake. But this movie, utilizing the underwater nazi zombie idea is very well crafted and lives up to its title. Although some might find it slow and lacking by modern standards, for those who like horror from the era when real horrror was being done, this one is a near essential. Staring an unknown Brooke Adams, and horror legends John Carradine and Peter Cushing, the low budget on this flick is apparent. Like Halloween a year after it, the writers wisely cast one (or 2) highly famaliar face to reel in their target crowd. Although they play the same usual "warning theres something bad going on here" character they've both always played, they do it with the bravado you'd expect of both the veterans. Some island tourists aboard a boat captaine'd by Caradine has some kind of equipment problems, loses its way, and gets sideswiped by a large unknown ship. They take refuge on a nearby island and not to give too much away, Cushing living there in isolation, is the former head of a core of superhuman killers (not dead nor alive but somewhere in between) that have just so happen to be rising from their watery grave on this day. Of course, on paper this sounds cheesy, however director Ken Wiederhorn really treats this flick as if it were the kind of late 60s Hammer film Cushing himself comes from. It's extremely eerie indeed. The music by Richard Einhorn is what really fills this movie with great tension and a very chilling atmosphere. Of course the shots of the monsters rising from the sea are the trademark image of the movie, this is one of the best horror films of it's decade, at least in the top 30. One thing that might irritate some waters is the lack of gore or any real violence, although others might find this a good thing. That doesn't mean this a kid movie, it's mood more than makes up for the lack of blood, and the raw low budget look will turn off anyone from the younger generation that is used to the typical Hollywood 10 million dollar slasher remake crap. This is a classic yet underlooked horror nugget.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
On a desolate, nondescript Caribbean island, shipwreck survivors are surprised to discover that an eccentric old German doctor resides there in an abandoned and dilapidated hotel. They soon learn, however, that the old Teutonic medical man is more that just eccentric; he's a former S.S. officer who has continued with the experiments assigned to him by Der Führer. And it isn't long before the castaways find themselves battling for survival against a corps of amphibious Nazi zombies!
This off-the-wall, low-budget horror film is just as goofy as it sounds, but it's still pretty good fun. And believe it or not, it actually spawned a bizarre sub-genre of Nazi zombie films that includes 1981's THE LAKE OF THE LIVING DEAD (a.k.a. ZOMBIE LAKE), 1981's NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, and 1983's THE OASIS OF THE LIVING DEAD (a.k.a. BLOODSUCKING NAZI ZOMBIES), to name just a few. None of its cinematic offspring quite reach the guilty-pleasure or cult status of SHOCK WAVES, though.
British horror icon Peter Cushing portrays the former S.S. officer, his interpretation somewhat reminiscent of his turns as Dr. Frankenstein in the films that came out of England's Hammer Studios in the 1960s and early 1970s. Actor John Carradine, a familiar face in American horror from the 1930s through the 1980s, appears in the minor role of the captain of the shipwrecked vessel. Carradine's character dies early in the film, however, so the two great horror veterans never get to share any screen time. A very unfortunate missed opportunity, as such a pairing certainly could've pushed SHOCK WAVES just a smidgen closer to notability.
Actress Brooke Adams has a prominent role as one of the shipwreck survivors. (Indeed, the story actually unfolds like a sort of flashback as her character thinks back to the experience.) Genre fans will recognize her from such films as the 1978 remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, the 1983 film version of Stephen King's THE DEAD ZONE, a cameo in Larry Cohen's 1985 horror satire THE STUFF, and many others.
The edition of SHOCK WAVES on DVD from the folks at Blue Underground is pretty good. Considering that the film was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm, and taking into account the fact that the disc was digitized from the director's personal copy of the film (the only complete version known to exist, according to the DVD jacket notes), this transfer--in anamorphic widescreen at the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1--looks quite good. In fact, when compared to the crappy video versions previously available, it's easy to forgive the minor filmic artifacts and the sometimes soft details.
And the DVD has some great bonus material, too. The best is the feature commentary with director Ken Wiederhorn, make-up man Alan Ormsby, and filmmaker Fred Olen Ray. The trio are delightfully glib and candid, offering lots of humorous and informative anecdotes regarding their experiences in making low-budget horror. There's an interview with star Luke Halpin, who offers some info about his costars and some of his memories about making the film, and there are also a few radio spots, a television spot, and the film's theatrical trailer.
As far as films go, SHOCK WAVES is not the best that Blue Underground has to offer, but it's nonetheless one of those fun guilty pleasures that fans of schlocky low-budget horror will want to add to their DVD collections.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of the most impressive things about this little shocker is how it makes its point without resorting to slashing, gore, blood or similar affects.
This little movie, from 1975, is up there with "Squirm" and "The Ring" as creepy films that will keep you on edge throughout. This was one of Peter Cushing's final films and the film debut of young Brooke Adams, who really looks good in opening scenes swimming in a yellow bikini.
The drama revolves around a bunch of witless "Gilligan's Island" types whose tour boat first conks out, then runs aground. The captain is the first to be killed mysteriously. The crew and passengers trek to a nearby island, where Cushing discloses the existence of Nazi underwater shock troopers leftover from World War II.
These guys arrive on a ship that doesn't really exist. You can probably figure out what they do afterward although the way they do it may surprise you.
This film has a very effective "music" score that aids the action and plot. Using electronic devices popular in the 1970s and later used to strong effect in John Carpenter movies, this film moves along slowly but effectively with the musical sequences helping unleash the action to come.
This was an unusual low budget flick in that it featured two aged stars (Cushing and John Carradine) and no other male leads of note. Adams was anything but a household name when this film was released, although she went onto a nice career in the movies.
I can't agree with those that equate this film with gory opuses such as "Dawn of the Dead". This movie reiles on the intensity of its musical descriptions to build anticipation of things to come that results in high suspense. It is similar to the quality that made "Blair Witch Project" such a success at the theaters.
This is what makes this movie worth watching almost three decades later, while the actors are dated by the long hair and odd attire prevalent in the era of Disco. It is the classic virtues of terror, anticipation and psychology that make this little movie memorable.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2006
this is one of my better loved horror movies from my youth. this tale of gene splised nazis who can live underwater or on land is good creepy fun and it doesn't gross you out like so of todays zombie movies do.
a group of tourist are traveling in the carabbian sea with captain john carradine(big mistake!!!!) and his first mate when one night the run into a ship that is stuck under the water. in the daylight they find the captain gone and set off toward and island very close by to look for him. there the meet a mad nazi doctor (cushing,with lighting bolt scar down his cheek!!!) who becomes very upset when he hears their story about the ship. he relates to them how during the war he helped invent a squad of underwater nazis to fight for the german army and as the war ended he took the soldiers and ran to this island and sank the boat and the zombies in hope they would stay there forever. no such luck and one by one the people are picked off by these creepy zombies.
as a kid this scared me to death and now i still feel a little chill when i see the zombies pop up. give this movie atry and i think you will love it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2008
The Death Corps. are storm troopers killed in action during World War II and part of a Nazi supernatural experiment to create the indestructible soldier out of the most evil men they could find.Using their bodies making them into zombie soldiers.30 years later and a small ship carring a group of vacationers and a 3 man crew have awaken these Nazi zombies.Peter Cushing once commandered these troops,saying they were not able to control the squad,being that they were unpredictable and eratic in nature killing soldiers on their own side.Cushing is the soul occupant on an island they have become shipwrecked on.You can pretty much take it from there.Great soundtrack.Totally creepy atmosphere.Not a lot of blood and gore as this movie doesn't really need these elements to help make this little gem a great horror movie.If you like Peter Cushing ,pick this up.You will thank me for it.The one zombie nazi movie that really counts.Stay away from "Zombie Lake" and "Oasis of Zombies".These two turds came out in 1980 and 1981."Shock Waves" is the one to have in your collection.
P.S. I do own 'Zombie Lake' and 'Oasis of Zombies',but do not recommend them(cuz the're so BAD)unless you are a total nazi zombie junkie like me,if so while your at it pick up 'Dead Snow'
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I can't argue with some of the critical reviews, from slow pacing to misuse of Peter Cushing, to laughably ineffective Nazi scuba zombies.
That said, what can I say -- I really enjoyed this movie.
First off, you have a great premise, great location (the film was shot in Miami and features many scenes in the then-shuttered historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables), and the beautiful Brooke Adams in a bikini.
Add Peter Cushing, a wry John Carradine, creepy soundtrack and atmospheric directing, and you have a pulpy, fun B-movie zombie fest.
I fully understand why this film was a midnight movie staple at the Grove cinema back in the day.
I also enjoyed the extras, including interviews and old Miami Herald press clippings from when they filmed this in South Florida back in 1975.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2005
The 1977 horror effort "Shock Waves", has been a film I have long wanted to see. After my first screening of it I can say it most definately proves the adage that a film need not necessarily have a big budget to be highly effective in creating great atmosphere with heaps of tension and sheer horror. It's story should prove irresistable to any horror lover with the visual image of sinister waterlogged Nazi Zombies rising out of their watery graves to terrorise unsuspecting holiday makers trapped on an island with a scarred former SS commander almost a guarantee of a tension filled viewing experience. I most certainly found it that way and was really surprised by just how effective this little effort was in creating just the right eerie effect. Hopping on the undead zombie bandwagon "Shock Waves", actually manages to rise above many of the cliches of this genrre which was so popular in the 1970's. Aided as it is by some truly superb under water photography, a creepy musical score which is highly effective in creating the great sense of unease and a really interesting cast including legendary horror greats Peter Cushing and John Carradine, and former child star Luke Halpin, "Shock Waves", has all the right ingredients for a highly enjoyable and at times quite disturbing horror story.
Partially based on the novel "The Morning of the Magicians", the story opens with a dishevelled and disoriented young girl (Brooke Adams) being rescued from a dingy and it is her recollections of the horrific incidents she has just experienced told in flashback that make up the story. It seems she and a small group of holiday makers have taken a tour on a rundown old boat captained by a crusty old salt (John Carradine) a nd his young assistant Keith (Luke Halpin). After experiencing some strange weather changes and what appear like underwater disturbances the ship collides in the middle of the night with a strange vessel that literally appears out of nowhere and doesn't appear to have a crew. Sustaining damage the tour boat runs a ground just off the beach of a strange island. When the captain mysteriously disappears Keith takes the other passengers ashore in the dingy where they not only find the captain's body but also find that the island is deserted except for a mysterious German gentleman (Peter Cushing), who lives alone in an old hotel. It turns out he is a former SS Commander of the Nazi army who has fled to the island at the end of World War II and he warns the trespassers to leave the island immediately. As it turns out he has his own secret in that he was in charge of a daring experiemnt by the German High Command near the end of the war which saw the creation of a secret group of storm troopers called the Death Corps who were underwater breathing zombified killing machines designed to be unstoppable in battle and totally without mercy. Unfortunately the underwater disturbances have upset the death corps watery grave in the hull of the boat that the Commander had sunk them in after fleeing to the area at the end of the war and very soon they are coming ashore picking off one member of the group after another. The SS Commander himself becomes their victim and soon it is only Keith and Rose (Brooke Adams) who are left and attempt to make their escape from the sadistic zombie killers. Keith however doesn't make it after fighting off the death corp members as they attacked the dingy just as they thought they were clear of danger and then it is just Rose as the sole survivor who drifts away in the dingy awaiting to be rescued.
"Shock Waves" which had a highly effective working title of "Death Corps", was the brain child of independant filmmaker Ken Wiederhorn who was also the film's writer/director and he along with producer Reuben Trane managed to work wonders on a very meagre budget of $300,000. Obtaining the services of horror greats John Carradine and Peter Cushing was a definite plus and gave this low budget effort a status it might not have otherwise enjoyed. Not much time is given towards deep character development as is usually the case in these type of efforts however both these acting greats make the most of their smallish parts. Peter Cushing in particular delivers his usual polished performance playing another variation on his Nazi characterisation complete with hideous scar right down his face. He manages in a very short screen time to really create interest in his character and as to how a Nazi SS Commander happened to end up on this island all alone. Performances by the rest of the cast are uniformily ok with younger members Luke Halpin who is still best remembered for his role in the highly successful television series "Flipper", and Brooke Adams in her major film debut being th emost prominent and doing good work in the face of the zombie onslaught. The really memorable participants in the story of course are the extremely sinister "death corps" or zombies that arise from the bottom of the ocean and begin an indiscriminate killing spree among those trapped on the island. Their horrid appearance once again is a bit of a miracle considering the films low budget and it's amazing how their google covered eyes, Nazi uniforms, and blank unfeeling expressions give them a truly frightening appearance. The scenes of them slowly emerging from the water and creeping up behind some of the cast members are truly inspired pieces of filmmaking and go a long way to increasing the fear element in the story. A major plus in "Shock Waves", considering that alot of the action takes place near water or actually in it, is the superb underwater photography by Irving Pare. His work here is excellent in firstly depicting the old submerged wreck that is home to the long dormant death corps and in the chilling shots of the zombies rising up and moving off along the ocean floor heading towards land . The location used in Florida for the site of the island despite only being a few miles from greater Miami has a suitably isolated feel to it and the sets used, whether they be the abandoned old hotel or the marshy swamps, possess a strange other worldly feel to them that really removes the story and the viewers from anything safe or identifiable.
"Shock Waves", although certainly no great horror classic is a most interestign effort that is now a firm part of my horror film library. It probably would be impossible to create such a film as "Shock Waves", nowadays with such a low budget and be still able to include the performers, photgraphy and locations that it does. My only regret is that horror greats Peter Cushing and John Carradine who are both great favourites of mine didn't get to have a bigger involvement in the story and actually share some screen time together. Cushing's character in particular is a most interesting one which deserved to have been explored more however that is a minor qualm and the overall product is excellent and essential viewing for anyone who has a fascination for "zombie" oriented stories or horror efforts in general. Enjoy!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2005
After a run down tour boat captained by a half-made John Carradine collides with a "ghost" ship, two vacationing couples and the boat's crew find themselves stranded on a desolate island. After braving the jungle (and being watched by some rather pasty faced fellows clad in old Nazi SS uniforms), our party comes across the ruins of an abandoned hotel. However, the hotel is also serving as the home of a half-crazed, German scientist (a ravaged Peter Cushing) who - after an untimely death or two - informs them that the island is also home to the last remaining outfit of Hitler's war machine. In short, Nazi zombies! Unfortunately for our survivors, crazy as the story might sound it's also true and soon they find themselves trapped and hunted by a seemingly unstoppable army of the Aryan undead.
Considering the competition, saying that Shock Waves is arguably the best Nazi zombie movie ever made may seem like a back handed compliment. However, this low budget horror film deserves its reputation. Director Ken Widerhorn rejected the over-the-top gore and easy shocks that characterized so many of the other zombie films made in the `70s and instead concentrated on creating a truly eerie atmosphere of increasing dread and hopelessness. The film's grainy look, desolate locations, ominous electronic score, and almost relentless action creates a truly unique, dreamlike experience. As such, it's that rare horror film that - while it may not make you scream while watching it - actually sticks in the viewer's mind long after the final credits roll. The film's most famous scene - featuring zombie after zombie emerging from the sea and marching towards the island - is indeed one of the most truly nightmarish images in the history of horror.
The "human" cast is a mixed bag and the various performances range from being merely adequate to borderline histrionic. The two best performances are delivered by Luke Halpin (who brings a low key intensity to his role as the film's hero) and the aforementioned Peter Cushing. Indeed, Cushing's performance here might be surprising to those who remember him only as the coolly sadistic Baron Frankenstein or Grand Moff Tarkin. Hardly slick, Cushing's crazed fugitive scientist is almost feral and he explains the zombie's origins with such fearful power that it doesn't even matter that much of what he says makes absolutely no sense. Even if Cushing's German accent is hardly perfect, his performance is. The film's leading lady is a young Brooke Adams who later became a minor star in the early `80s and, even if her performance is hardly a revelation, she is appealing and likeable in the role. As for the rest, Jack Davidson has a few good scenes as an obnoxious used car salesman and John Carradine is ... well, John Carradine. However, the film's strongest performances come, of course, from the zombies. Still clad in their old uniforms and all possessing the same expressionless face, these zombies are never less than believable as a force of supernatural evil. Whether suddenly materializing out of the dark shadows that dominate the film or relentlessly pursuing their prey (unlike George Romero's comical flesh eaters, these zombies are aggressive, fast, and clever), the anonymous actors playing these monsters truly make Shock Waves a truly unique and nightmarish experience in horror.