Shock Waves (1977)

OCTOBER 9, 2008


Had I known that Shock Waves was rated PG and that the headline star only appeared in two scenes before I sat down to watch it, I probably wouldn’t have been so bored and disappointed. I mean, we are promised zombies, AND Nazis, AND underwater stuff, and then... all of the deaths are either bloodless or offscreen entirely. Kind of a bummer, and worse, it makes it hard to keep my attention at 1130 pm when I’m four beers and half a cupcake into the evening.

Luckily it’s not without its charms. The cast is game, and their bickering is pretty amusing (especially the John Hodgeman-y Jack Davidson, who is sadly one of the first to go too). And no movie with John Carradine AND Peter Cushing can be entirely bad, even if they have about 10 minutes’ screentime combined. Brooke Adams was also pretty hot back in the day, and the plot has her spend half the movie in a skimpy swimsuit. Not too shabby.

Also, the zombies, despite not really doing anything, look pretty cool. They walk around underwater (there’s a great shot that seemingly runs a full minute of a guy walking around on the ocean floor, and the shot is wide enough to make sure you can tell that there isn’t an oxygen tank a foot away), and the multiple shots of them rising out of (or dipping back under) the water are pretty striking.

I also dug the downer ending. Adams survives, and we see her in a hospital, supposedly writing down her ordeal for a future memoir. But the camera swings around and we see that she’s just scribbling nonsense on the page – so it’s likely she’s batshit and/or becoming a zombie. Yay!

But come on! Why does nothing happen in this movie? You can’t make a zombie movie and not offer up at least ONE great death scene! There are laws against this! We (nerds who attend late night screenings of obscure horror movies) are promised at least one eye gouge and/or beheading for every 3 human characters in a zombie film.

So, I dunno. You might enjoy it if you know beforehand that nothing really happens in it. It’s got a good atmosphere (deserted towns are always a plus) and some fun characters, and it’s well made to boot. But if you are “waiting for the good parts” – don’t hold your breath.

What say you?


  1. One of my all time favourite zombie nazi films! Foreboding rundown island estate, Peter Cushing - SS Commander extraordinaire , unstoppable water logged zombies ;) Plenty of gore there is not, its more about the tension and lack of escape routes with this one. Agreed not a masterpiece but definitely a worthy addition to the zombie / zombie nazi genre.

    p.s Try six beers next time!
    & if its gore your after with that lush island isolated hell, maybe "Zombie Flesh Eaters" is more up you alley.

  2. So what were the 'great death scenes' in Night of the Living Dead? I also don't recall any eye gougings or beheadings in that film either.


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