With film series like Dead Snow and Outpost, I was sure that the Nazi zombie sub-genre was a fairly new one in the horror world. It seems I was mistaken as Ken Wiederhorn, John Kent Harrison, and Ken Pare told the story of undead SS super soldiers way before any of these films existed with their 1977 flick, Shock Waves.
A boat is taken out of commission, leaving its passengers stranded on a desolate island without their captain. They are warned to leave by the sole inhabitant (Peter Cushing) of this abandoned land, but it isn’t until they find out the truth that they heed his warning… the truth being that they are being stalked by a group of undead soldiers who were the result of an experiment gone wrong during World War II.
I love finding out about horror films that seem to have been lost in obscurity so many years ago. Thanks to Blue Underground, I have now been able to experience another of these forgotten low-budget tales of terror. Shock Waves is a fun little flick that will take you back to the days of zombies before they were covered in gore and carnage like we see on an almost daily basis.
Shot with a rather small budget for horror in the 70’s, the crew behind the scenes of Shock Waves was able to create a film which seemed much larger than it actually was. After watching a few of the interviews shot as bonus features for Blue Underground’s Blu-ray release, I learned that there were a total of about six actors used as zombies for the film. I was certainly fooled because through some movie magic, I was convinced that I saw a group of about 20 or so on my screen, at one point. Take that kind of inventiveness, an effectively scary soundtrack, and a cast consisting of the great Peter Cushing and John Carradine and you got yourself a winner!
While we’ve grown accustomed to some pretty gnarly looking zombies over recent years, with rotten flesh and innards pouring out, it is nice to be reminded where all of this type of stuff started from. Sure, everybody knows about Romero’s classics like Night of the Living Dead, but not everyone is aware that there are plenty of other zombie films from back in the 70’s and 80’s that are just waiting to be re-discovered. In fact, without the imagination of filmmakers like Wiederhorn and his team, I’d venture to say that some of the zombie lore we enjoy today wouldn’t even exist.
Okay, so the acting wasn’t the best and I really would have loved to see some variety in the death-by-zombie scenes, but that still doesn’t take away from what Shock Waves has to offer. In addition to everything I’ve listed above, Reuben Trane executes some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in quite some time. With beautiful underwater sequences and grisly POV shots, he really takes this tiny independent film and brings it to the next level of horror entertainment.
If you are on the market for the film that started the whole Nazi zombie craze, look no further. Without this, there would be no Oasis of the Zombies, Dead Snow, Blood Soaked or any other film in the [sub-]sub-genre! Shock Waves can purchased on Blu-ray today from Blue Underground.
I give this film 3.5 flare guns out of 5.