Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Shock Waves (1977)

I stopped taking notes while watching movies a long time ago. I found it hard to immerse myself in the picture while jotting down everything I thought to be funny or important. I guess the trade off is that my "reviews" have become a little less detailed, which I don't think is an entirely bad thing. Brevity has its merits. Of course, since I've stopped taking notes it seems like my rate of posting has gone down. I think I'm just an incredibly lazy human being. Here's the thing, I probably watch between four and five pictures that would qualify for a review per week. Since I'm writing, at best, one review per week it would seem that you guys are losing out on my thoughts/rantings/etc for 75-80% of the pictures I view. Yep, that's true. It's also possible (read, likely) that since I'm writing most of these reviews at least a week or so after watching the movie you're not really getting a fair assesment of whichever picture I watch. Well, I look at it this way I guess. If I'm still thinking about a crappy film a week or so after watching it then it must be worth writing about. Right? Ah, fuck it....I'm lazy. October is just around the corner and I hope to, at least, duplicate my efforts from last year (when I posted an astonishing 12 reviews!!). Oh, and if you guys have a movie (preferably horror) you'd like me to write about next month, let me know.

Here's a shock. I watched a picture about Nazi zombies and it wasn't terrible. Unlike Zombie Lake this one lacked gore, contained no nudity (no volleball team, no bush, etc), and no poorly staged combat scenes. In fact, this thing felt downright PG (I think it was). One would think it impossible for me to like such a thing. What it did have was foreboding atmosphere, solid performances, some creepy zombie effects, and an isolated island setting. Peter Cushing and John Carradine are also a step up from Howard Vernon and Antonio Mayans. Who? Exactly. Zombie Lake sucked.

Brooke Adams (yes, the lovely, luscious Brooke Adams) stars as Rose who, as the picture begins, is found in a little dinghy off the coast of Florida by some fishermen. She's suffering from extreme dehydration and sunburn. The story she recounts is a little hard to believe. She was on a pleasure cruise when her ship was rammed by a ghost ship. Forced to abandon the sinking vessel, Rose and her fellow vacationers (along with the first mate and cook: the captain, John Carradine, has already disappeared after going crazy. His fate remains unknown for about five minutes. Thank god for glass bottom boats) make their way to a tiny tropical island that seems deserted, except for that rundown hotel on the other side which is occupied by SS Commander Peter Cushing (I can't remember his name, not even sure he had one) who escaped to the island during the war. Apparently, he's disavowed Nazi ideologies and wants to help the castaways (after, first playing hard to get). Unfortunately, their boat woke up his slumbering soldiers. Too late.

I can understand why Hitler would want an army of the dead. These guys were specifically engineered to work underwater and pilot U-boats. As actual fighting soldiers they don't seem all that impressive. They're slow and their methods for killing are limited to strangulation and drowning. So, not that good in a firefight. And, unlike most zombies, they apparently don't have a taste for human flesh. There are several eerie scenes of them slowly rising from the water, one by one, with pale, scale-like skin and aryan blond hair, eyes obscured by SS standarad-issue goggles. Rip off the goggles and you kill the zombie. They hate the sun. And, yet, for some reason, they only come out during the day. Whatever.

The movie comes down to a survival of the fittest type scenario with stupid characters going off alone and dying bloodless deaths. At one point, a few characters spend a night in a freezer but didn't count on the white guy with the afro being claustrophobic. I usually only go for horror pictures with lots of gore and, at least a little, nudity. Regardless, this one worked for me. Mainly because I spent most of the 90 minute runtime imagining Brooke Adams naked, but also because there was some decent suspense and some terrific visuals. Sure, I thought it was a bad choice to reveal that Adams survives the story at the beginning. And, since she was alone, I guess that means everyone else must have died. So, um, I guess the suspense was generated from when the characters would die, not if. The characters, with the exception of Adams and her quasi lover/first mate, were all pretty stupid. At least, the cook was a drunk. He was cool I thought, and also the first to die (after the offscreen death of poor John Carradine).

Why is it that all Nazi zombies spend most of their time in the water? That's something I don't really get. At least the underwater shots in this thing looked like they were filmed in an actual ocean and not the pool at the local Y (again, fuck you Zombie Lake). I've got one more Nazi zombie film to watch called Oasis of the Zombies, from my "50 Chilling Movie Pack". If you're lucky, it'll be one of the 20-25% of pictures I write about. I'm not very optimistic. The director of Shock Waves, Ken Wiederhorn, went on to direct Meatballs Part II and Return of the Living Dead part II, before falling into obscurity. It's a shame because this picture showed promise. I can only imagine that he turned to the drink, wandered off by himself, and was forcibly drowned by "Der Toten Korps", zombie warriors of Hitler's SS.


brian said...

I guess it's Nazi month here at Moving Picture Trash.

elmo said...

Me want borrow Frankenstein. Oh, and you should review Sleepaway Camp 2.

brian said...

I'll bring it in saturday. Adding 'sleepaway camp 2' to my queue. I've seen the first one. Fantastic ending.

elmo said...

The sequel is campy as hell, but funny.