Friday, May 20, 2011

#287. Shock Waves (1977)

Directed By: Ken Wiederhorn

Starring: Peter Cushing, Brooke Adams, Fred Buch

Tag line: "Once They Were Almost Human! Beneath the living... Beyond the dead... From the depths of Hell's Ocean! The Deep End of Horror!"

Trivia:  Headlining stars John Carradine and Peter Cushing each worked four days and earned $5,000 each

If there's one image that will stay with you after watching Shock Waves, it's that of a Nazi soldier, fully decked out in his uniform and wearing dark goggles, slowly emerging from the deep, dark sea. It's repeated several times throughout Shock Waves, and no matter how many times you see it, it'll still manage to unnerve you. 

When the boat they're traveling in collides with a mysterious ship, a group of vacationers find themselves stranded on a strange island inhabited by a former SS Nazi Commander (Peter Cushing). Having been on the island since the end of the war, this commander tells the story of an elite SS unit he himself created, one so powerful that the Allies could never defeat them. What made these particular soldiers so unique was that they were zombies, soldiers killed in battle who were resurrected so they could go on fighting. Now, as a result of the accident, these zombies have awoken from their watery grave, and unless the vacationers can find a way off the island, they'll surely be the undead soldier's next group of victims. 

Despite the fact it was made on such a small budget (estimated at $200k), Shock Waves co-stars two icons of the horror genre, whose roles, though admittedly brief, add quite a bit to the finished film. John Carradine is at his cantankerous best as the crusty old sea captain, bellowing out orders to his crew and ignoring the concerns of his passengers. He's a mean old cuss (in a fit of anger, he even chucks the boat's radio overboard), bringing a little flavor to the film's opening scenes. Yet it's Peter Cushing who gets the more prominent part as the SS Commander whose “army” has come back, looking for blood. Cushing, a veteran of Hammer's various horror franchises, spends most of his screen time worrying, and the rest dolling out warnings, yet his very presence is enough to get the audience's attention. 

Shock Waves is definitely a slow burn, and those looking for non-stop action chock-full of blood and gore may ultimately be disappointed. But if you're patient enough to stay with it, Shock Waves will prove a chilling bit of escapist entertainment.

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