Friday, June 21, 2013

'Shock Waves' -- Carradine and Cushing contribute to a great movie

By Steve D. Stones

Besides being a genuinely frightening film, Shock Waves manages to have two great horror icons – John Carradine and Peter Cushing. The film follows in a long line of the Nazi zombie sub-genre of films that were shown in the 1970s at drive-ins. I would certainly rank Shock Waves as the best of the Nazi zombie films.

The real star of Shock Waves, in my opinion, is the eerie music score by Richard Einhorn. I can’t imagine viewing this film without the electronic synthesizer music by Einhorn. It holds the entire film together, and seems in sync with the march of the zombies.

Shock Waves manages to be scary without showing one drop of blood or extreme zombie gore. Most zombie films specialize in lots of gore. This film, however, does not, yet it still manages to entertain and horrify the viewer.

The plot follows a group of tourists on a dive boat off the coast of Florida. They collide one night with an old abandoned Nazi ship from World War II. The grumpy old captain, played by John Carradine, dives below the boat the next morning to inspect it for damages. He is later found dead, having drowned.

The tourist group, cook and captain’s first mate abandon the boat and row ashore. After arriving on a deserted island, the group encounters several zombies dressed in Nazi uniforms. They also find an old abandoned hotel inhabited by a Nazi commander, played by Peter Cushing. Cushing has been on the island since the ending of World War II, and informs the group that the German high command had developed a race of invincible soldier who could kill with their bare hands. He calls them the Death Corps, which is the alternative title of the film.

One by one, members of the boating group start to be attacked and murdered by the zombies. Most of them are pulled down into the water and drowned by the zombies. These are some of the most effective and creepy sequences in the film. Close up shots of the zombies submerging from the water makes goose bumps grow on your skin.

The original negative of Shock Waves is thought to be lost, so director Ken Wiederhorn released a print from his personal archive in 2002 to be released on DVD by Blue Underground. A VHS video of the film was also available in the 1980s by Prism Entertainment. The Blue Underground DVD has an interesting audio commentary by director Wiederhorn, make-up designer Alan Ormsby and still photographer-filmmaker Fred Olen Ray. An interview with actor Luke Halpin, who plays Carradine’s second mate in the film, is also on the DVD extras. Watch this film with another Nazi zombie film like Oasis of The Zombies or Zombie Lake. Enjoy!

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