Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Shock Waves (1977)

Directed by: Ken Wiederhorn
Written by: Ken Wiederhorn and John Kent Harrison

There is a beauty to 1970’s horror movies that is not reflected in those of this era. Whether it be the ground breaking special effects that did not require CGI, the gritty texture that the camera brought to the film, blood soaked nudity, and wild unkempt pubic hair that reminds one of an untamed wilderness. It is 1970’s horror that set aside most regard for the limits of tastefulness. It is because of this directors were given a freedom to do with their films that was not allowed in earlier years. This freedom changed the course of the movie monster. A family tree grew with its founding members being Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Wolfman. The branches bled far scarier boogeymen, like that of the zombie. With the use of the zombie sub-genres  grew.  The most interesting of these sub-genres has been the birth of the Nazi zombie film. Nothing can be more frightening then the realization that one of the world’s greatest real life horrors cannot die. It has risen from the dead to attack once again.

One such Nazi zombie movie that has reached a cult status in the underground of horror films is Shock Waves. The premise of this film surrounds a group of tourists who have rented a boat to take them out into the waters of Florida. The boat shipwrecks amongst the rocky shore of a deserted island. The group searches for life on the island but merely finds the ruins of an old hotel. The transition from the boat to the hotel takes 30 painful minutes. All that the viewer learns within that 30 minutes is that the tourists do not like the boat’s crew. This does not define the plot of this film in any way and is completely unnecessary . The viewer cares not about these characters and shortly after watching them argue you begin to pray that the zombies kill them as soon as possible. When one watches a zombie film they watch it for the zombies and not the poor character development that Shock Waves presents.

It is only after this that the tourists find that they are not alone and that an old man has been living in the shadows of the ruins of the hotel. It isn’t until members of the group start disappearing, only to be found dead that they ask the old man about the island. The old man’s explanation is hard to take seriously. He goes on to tell the group that during World War II  Adolf Hitler and his high command ordered their scientists to create  a top-secret race of zombie Storm Troopers.  These zombie soldiers went missing before the end of the war and have not been seen until…you guessed it…until the tourists had arrived. Hidden for years, the zombies have laid dormant within a German submarine that somehow has also run aground on the same very island.

Despite the awful acting, a lack of gore, and nonexistent nudity, Shock Waves has one bright spot. One beautifully awesome bright spot. This bright spot being that the Nazi zombies attack from underwater. It is a wondrous thing to watch a Nazi zombie march along the ocean floor. Unfazed by the fact that they are under water, the actors who played these very zombies do so unflinching. But despite this greatness it does not warrant a viewing. Had I known how poor this film was going to be I would have simply gone to YouTube and watched the underwater scene on that website.

The one thing that makes me want to run screaming away from this film is how boring it is. Had the Nazi zombies been introduced sooner and had the movie shown the actual act of killing the tourists I may have been more interested in watching this. Take this as a warning. Please do not bother with this film. It is 85 minutes of your life you will never get back. I highly recommend Outpost or Dead Snow as an alternative.

Shock Waves receives 1 underwater zombie out of 5.


8 Responses to “Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Shock Waves (1977)”

  1. I’ve looked at this box a million times at various video stores growing up and I never rented it. Something always said “stay away.” Might have been George Kennedy’s name. George Kennedy and zombies just don’t jibe. Glad I listened to instinct.

  2. Never heard of this film — but good review nonetheless. Actually liked reading about a movie I had zero information on. Sometimes in life you really do just have to sit through an awful movie and appreciate it for what it is … a big steaming pile of crap that makes you appreciate good films. Also: every once in a while you’ll get a nugget of gold in the shitstorm that you can file away and use in your own stories down the line. Your own, hopefully better stories.

    I do own Dead Snow (though it’s in Guillaume de Sade’s possession right now) and it was a pretty good Nazi zombie flick. Really though … we kind of got to admit they’re just zombies. I was hoping for some anti-semetic zombies. Maybe a Mel Gibson zombie. No dice.

  3. The Taint Says:

    Is that Elton John as the zombie on the cover?

  4. Funny that after I write a review mentioning how you have to dig through the horror fecal pile to find the gold, I read you saying the same thing in these comments. That’s why we’re family, dickhead.

  5. That is exactly why we’re family. I was reading this review and thinking…this sounds terrible. And I was thrilled to find out it is terrible. Great review. I want to see that underwater scene…i may just rent this…hmmm?

  6. If we’re family, you should come over for Thanksgiving. Bring your own turkey.

  7. chainsawcheerleader Says:

    I didn’t realize who George Kennedy was until you mentioned him, Tick. Seeing that Peter Cushing was in it kind of caught my eye. He did an alright job but I don’t think they gave him much to work with.

    I agree that in the end Nazi zombies are really just zombies but I think when you add the Nazi part it makes them feel move evil. I would pay to see a movie about antisemitic zombies. I think it would be brilliant if toward the middle of the film those that the Nazis marched against would arm themselves and kill off the zombies. I think that is why I loved the ending of Inglourious Bastards so much because at the end it was a Jew that killed Hitler. I wish that is how WWII had ended.

  8. Turns out my memory was fuzzy on that one. George Kennedy isn’t in this. I was thinking of Death Ship. Getting my zombie Nazi haunted ship movies confused.

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