SHOCK WAVES *** USA 1977 90 mins Dir: Ken Wiederhorn.
A low key, well-remembered cult item, this prefigures the 21st century trend for Nazi zombie movies. At one time it was largely lost in the strange zombie netherworld that existed between the two Romero tent pole movies. Set to a creepy, atonal score by Richard Einhorn, it opens with Brooke Adams rescued by a lone boat, and she spends the rest of the movie recalling how she ended up exploring an island and a run-down hotel inhabited by a haunted Peter Cushing who warns, quite rightly, “There is danger here…danger in the water…”
There are familiar, fashionable post-JAWS scenes of a subjective underwater menace causing schools of fish to flee, somewhat predicting the zombie-shark interface in Fulci’s ZOMBI, though many scenes possess a uniquely eerie charge – particularly the striking image of several blonde, goggle-sporting Nazi zombies rising up from the water like they’re in some long-forgotten SS enhanced retro rock music video. It’s a slow-burn and the talented Adams is reduced to a reactive eye candy screaming role, though Cushing, on Basil Exposition duties, is typically commanding as the surviving member of a German team responsible for creating “Death Corps”, a special unit of “perfect soldiers” designed for underwater use.
Review by Steven West