‘The deep end of horror!’
Shock Waves is an American 1977 released science fiction horror feature film directed by Ken Wiederhorn (Freddy’s Nightmares TV series; Dark Tower; Return of the Living Dead Part 2; Eyes of a Stranger) from a screenplay co-written by John Harrison (Murder By Phone).
The Reuben Trane produced movie stars Peter Cushing, Brooke Adams, Fred Buch, Jack Davidson, Luke Halprin, D.J. Sidney, Don Stout and John Carradine.
Shot on 16mm (later blown up to 35mm) between July and August 1975, it was initially titled Death Corps. In 1977, it was picked up for US distribution by exploitation movie mavens Joseph Brenner Associates (Torso; Autopsy; Eyeball) and retitled Shock Waves.
In the UK, it was released in 1978 with a BBFC ‘A’ rating as Almost Human by David Grant (who was later imprisoned for distributing Nightmares in a Damaged Brain on VHS).
The synth score was composed by Richard Einhorn (The Prowler). In 2016, it was remastered for a vinyl release by Waxwork Records. The seafoam green LP includes liner notes by Einhorn and director Ken Wiederhorn and features cover art by Marc Schoenbach and centre label art by Gary Pullin.
During World War II, the Nazi High Command ordered its scientists to create a top-secret race of indestructible zombie storm troopers – un-living, unfeeling, unstoppable monstrosities that killed with their bare hands. They were known as The Death Corps. No member of this horrific SS unit was ever captured by Allied Forces – and, somewhere off the coast of Florida, they have survived…
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“The movie has some great visual cues but it also has some problematic parts. It seems like the movie was often shot night-for-day and it is difficult to see if it supposed to be night in some scenes […] The underwater footage is reminiscent of Creature from the Black Lagoon and aspects of Carnival of Souls with the zombies walking slowly and methodically into and under the water in rather creepy visuals.” Basement Rejects
“The film’s grainy look, desolate locations, ominous electronic score, and almost relentless action creates a truly unique, dreamlike experience. As such, it’s that rare horror film that – while it may not make you scream while watching it – actually sticks in the viewer’s mind long after the final credits roll.” The Deuce
“With strong direction (those underwater shots are stupendous!), surprisingly strong acting from everyone involved, unforgettable cinematography (those grainy zombie silhouettes will stay with me for the rest of my days) and some tingling moments of sheer terror (a Nazi zombie standing a little too still behind a closing door while a blinded victim is oblivious to its presence), Shock Waves builds itself into a sopping wet funhouse…” Anti-Film School
” …Shock Waves is not a bad film and prefigures many of the late 1970s horrors. The commandant provides Cushing with a chance to play a menacing character, but one who is haunted by a terror from the past. His tiny, guilty glance to the swastikaed banners that decorate his retreat is exceptional. It is one of his last really satisfying horror roles.” David Miller, The Peter Cushing Companion
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“Shock Waves offers a unique and memorable zombie mythos that makes a completely clean break both from Caribbean folklore and from the newer George Romero orthodoxy. Furthermore, though their character design of course differs drastically, the Death Corps resemble the Blind Dead in their uniformity of appearance, their implacably methodical demeanor, and their overall air of inscrutable otherworldliness.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“Shock Waves offers an undeniably creative and innovative approach to the screen presentation of the zombie, at the height of the post-Night decade in which such innovation was most lacking.” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia
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“Able performances and a few striking moments – especially the first appearance of the zombies, rising from the sea with scarred faces and dark glasses – don’t succeed in offsetting a rambling, repetitious script and a general air of impoverishment.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“Some of the locations, notably an old hotel, are suitably spooky and director Ken Weiderhorn is able to give the fascist creatures their moments, too.” Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide
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Italian poster (below) ties the film in with 70s popular interest in the ‘Bermuda Triangle‘:
Cast and characters:
Peter Cushing … SS Commander
John Carradine … Captain Ben Morris
Brooke Adams … Rose – Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Fred Buch … Chuck
Jack Davidson … Norman
Luke Halpin … Keith
D.J. Sidney … Beverly
Don Stout … Dobbs
Clarence Thomas … Fisherman
Sammy Graham … Zombie
Preston White … Zombie
Reid Finger … Zombie
Mike Kennedy … Zombie
Donahue Guillory … Zombie
Jay Maeder … Zombie
Aspect ratio: 1.66: 1
The hotel in the film is the Biltmore Hotel in Florida which was shut down for a two-year period and was abandoned at the time of filming. Director Ken Wiederhorn paid $250 to rent the building for the shoot.
Full film free to watch online: