Shock Waves (1977)

shock waves 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Zombie soldiers inhabit island.

During WWII a Nazi commandment experimented with the supernatural by taking dead soldiers and turning them into zombies who would become killing machines that could not be taken down and impossible to destroy. When the war ended a lone SS Commander (Peter Cushing) took these zombies to an isolated island where he hoped to destroy them, but instead they became more powerful. When some castaways from a waterlogged boat arrive at the island they are greeted by these zombies who waste no time in returning to their killing ways.

The film starts out with promise and the idea has potential, but the film reverts too much to a pedestrian narrative that bogs down the action and turns it into a bore. The dialogue is banal and the characters annoying. The film would’ve worked much better had it taken a Dario Argento approach where the focus stayed solely on mood, imagery and a pounding music score while completely scrapping the dull characterizations altogether. In fact having only one or two people make it to the island would’ve been perfect as the rest of the supporting cast seem better suited for a pathetic B-comedy.

shock waves

The zombies aren’t all that interesting either. The shot showing one of them walking on the ocean bottom without any breathing apparatus was impressive, but otherwise they spend the majority of time simply lurking around in the backdrop. They can also easily be killed by having the shaded goggles that they wear taken off, which isn’t too exciting. Having the Cushing character describe their origin even though it had already been explained at the beginning by a narrator was unnecessary and in many ways no explanation or only supplying one at the very end would’ve made it creepier.

Veteran character actors John Carradine and Cushing both made $5,000 for their efforts, but their presence in both cases was not needed. Brooke Adams is good in her first credited speaking role in a film, but the rest of the cast came off like amateurs and Buck Henry lookalike Jack Davidson seemed like he had walked onto the wrong movie altogether.

Shot in 1975 the abandoned hotel on an island setting adds a bit of ambience, but overall it’s a wasted effort. The scares, tension and special effects are all quite minimal and the story’s original elements become overshadowed by a flat and unimaginative script.

shock waves 2

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: July 15, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 24Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Ken Weiderhorn

Studio: Zopix Company

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

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