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Movie Flashback: 1970s Shock Waves

Rose (Brooke Adams) is found alone and adrift on a small boat. She begins to recount what happened to her and her yacht mates, and through flashback, we follow along to see what happened. It appears forty years ago, at the end of WWII, the Nazis were creating a super soldier. The allies ran into this group, and it’s the only squad that the allies hadn’t recorded a kill against. These super soldiers fought without guns with super human strength. This is all told in the opening narration, and it’s quite effective in setting the mood. It turns out, these soldiers are zombies, and they are currently lying dormant at the bottom of the sea. This is of course unbeknownst to our yachters, led by the captain, played by John Carradine. As you can imagine, the yacht ends up off course and being blindsided by a ghost ship. They make way for a island in the distance in which they find a huge mansion populated by a lone man.

1970s Shock Waves

Peter Cushing, in a nice, though brief, role, appears to tell them they must leave his place. He is a SS commander from the war who has been living isolated from the world for forty years. When the yachters tell him about the shipwrecked vessel they hit, he recognizes this as a vessel containing the zombie soldiers. Now, the zombies rise, underwater, and walk to the island with purpose-the purpose to kill! But we’ll have to wait through half the films running time for that to happen. Instead we’ll see zombies rise from the water slowly, ad nauseam.

There’s an inherent understanding that comes with a Nazi themed horror film, and that is this: It’s going to be sleazy, and it’s going to be gory. Unfortunately, neither option is on display here. Granted, the scenes of zombies in full on Nazi regalia are satisfactorily creepy as they slowly raise their goggled heads from the water. However, the director, Ken Wiederhorn is aware of this, and beats it to death with a baseball bat. That would be fine if this setup led to the expected massacre; it doesn’t though, instead languishing in a uniform malaise that does at much to lull you to sleep as it does to creep you out.

There are kills, but they’re rather tame, and some happen off camera. The story is hanging by a shoelace to begin with, and the longer the story is depended on to carry the movie, the more the movie begins lagging in direction. The end product begins feeling more like a tv movie from the 70’s than an exploitation film, and I don’t think that the audience in the mood for “Shock Waves” is looking for an afterschool special.

Perhaps I’m so desensitized that nothing’s shocking, but when Nazi zombies roam the earth, I suspect they’ll use more than a garrote to extinguish the sad sack humans.

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