Shock Waves (film)

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Shock Waves
Poster of Shock Waves.
Directed byKen Wiederhorn
Produced byReuben Trane
Written by
Music byRichard Einhorn
  • Laurence Friedricks Enterprises
  • Zopix
Distributed byBlue Underground
Release date
  • July 15, 1977 (1977-07-15)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States

Shock Waves, (alternate titles: Almost Human (UK), Death Corps), is a 1977 horror film written and directed by Ken Wiederhorn. The screenplay concerns a group of tourists who encounter aquatic Nazi zombies when they become shipwrecked, it stars Peter Cushing as a former SS commander, Brooke Adams as a tourist, and John Carradine as the captain of the tourists' boat.


The film opens as Rose is found drifting alone in a small rowboat. Two fishermen find it and pull her onto their own boat, barely alive and in a horrible state, her voiceover indicates she had been rescued from some terrifying experience and the film's events are flashbacks of it.

Young and pretty, Rose is part of a group of tourists on a small commercial boat run by a crusty old captain and his handsome mate, Keith; also on board are Dobbs, who is the boat's cook; Chuck, another tourist; and a bickering married couple named Norman and Beverly. After trouble with the engine, the navigation system goes haywire when they encounter a strange orange haze; the others sense that something is wrong. Norman in particular becomes abrasive. In the darkness of night, a hulking ship suddenly appears and sideswipes their boat; the Captain sends up a flare, which momentarily lights up the eerie sight of a huge, rotting vessel wrecked nearby.

The next morning, everyone wakes to find the Captain missing. Realizing the boat is slowly taking on water, everyone evacuates in the lifeboat and makes for a nearby island, they see the huge wreck in the light of day; it appears to have been there for decades, nothing more than a skeletal framework, and now seemingly immobile, stranded on the island's reef. The group is startled to find the body of the Captain, apparently drowned while he was trying to check the underside of the boat for damage, they explore the island and discover a large, rundown hotel. At first they think it is deserted, but they discover a reclusive old man living there.

The man seems alarmed by their story, and he goes down to the beach to personally investigate. Under the water, strange zombie-like men gather, walking from the wreck along the ocean floor to the island; as Dobbs gathers items to help prepare food, the zombies corner him in the water and one of them attacks; before it kills him, Dobbs falls in a cluster of sea urchins and is horribly mangled. Rose discovers his body while swimming. Back inside the hotel, their reluctant host tells them that he was a Nazi commander in charge of the "Death Corps", a group of aquatic zombies; the creatures were intended to be a powerful weapon for the Nazis, but they proved too difficult to control. When Germany lost the war, he sank their ship. Knowing the zombies have returned, he says they are doomed; the Commander goes down to the beach again and sees a few of the zombies off in the distance; they refuse to obey and drown him.

The others locate a boat that the Commander told them about and pilot it out through the streams to the open water, they lose control of the boat, and it sails away from them, empty. A zombie drowns Norman in a stream, and another chases Rose back to the hotel, where she kills it by pulling off its goggles. Chuck, Beverly, and Keith return to the hotel, and they barricade themselves in the refrigerator unit; the close quarters and stress cause the survivors to begin infighting, and Chuck accidentally fires a flare gun, blinding Beverly. Keith and Rose escape to an old furnace room, where they hide inside two metal grates, while Beverly hides in a closet; the zombies drown Chuck in a swimming pool outside.

The next morning, Keith and Rose discover Beverly dead, drowned in a large fish tank. Now on their own, they try to escape in a small sightseeing rowboat with a glass bottom; the zombies attack, and although Keith manages to defeat one by pulling off its goggles, a second one grabs him and drowns him just as the dinghy breaches the reef and drifts free. Rose sees Keith's lifeless body pressed up against the glass bottom of the boat and screams.

The film comes full circle, and Rose's voiceover returns, she is now in a hospital bed, seemingly writing in a journal. Her dialogue begins to repeat itself over and over, and she is revealed to be writing nonsense in her journal, showing that she has gone insane.



The backdrop ship is the SS Sapona, a concrete-hulled cargo steamer that ran aground near Bimini during a hurricane in 1926.[citation needed]


The film was released theatrically in the United States by Joseph Brenner Associates in 1977.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS by Prism Entertainment and, later, Starmaker in the 1980s and on a special edition DVD by Blue Underground in 2003, from which it was sourced from the director's personal collection as the original negative is believed to be lost.[1]

To promote the film's Blu-ray release, Blue Underground re-released the film theatrically in November 2014.[2]


Annie Riordan of Brutal as Hell rated it 3.5/5 stars and wrote, "Shock Waves is a winner, genuinely eerie and disturbing."[3] Mike Long of DVD Talk rated it 3/5 stars and wrote, "Horror fans looking for a zombie gorefest will be quite disappointed by "Shock Waves", but those who want a subtle and unique experience may enjoy this quirky low-budget film."[4] Oktay Ege Kozak, also writing at DVD Talk, rated it 1/5 stars and wrote, "Shock Waves is a cheap, uninteresting, and entirely too forgettable genre effort from the 70s, a decade that otherwise revitalized horror cinema."[5] Patrick Bromley of DVD Verdict wrote, "More concerned with atmosphere than with shocks, it avoids a number of what would become the cliches of the genre; the flip side of that coin is that it delivers little of what we want from a zombie film."[6] Patrick Naugle, also writing at DVD Verdict, called it repetitious and boring.[7] Writing in Horror Movies of the 1970s, critic John Kenneth Muir called it a "low budget exploitation film with a ludicrous B-movie premise" that works due to Wiederhorn's direction.[8] Peter Dendle, who wrote The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, said, "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."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reesman, Brian (November 1, 2003). "Horror DVDs Enjoy Frightfully Good Sales". Billboard. 115 (44): 76.
  2. ^ Turek, Ryan (2014-11-03). "Blue Underground Brings Shock Waves Back to Theaters!". Shock Till You Drop. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  3. ^ Riordan, Annie (2009-06-11). "DVD Review: Shock Waves".
  4. ^ Long, Mike (2002-08-13). "Shock Waves". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  5. ^ Kozak, Oktay Ege (2014-11-05). "Shock Waves (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  6. ^ Bromley, Patrick (2014-11-14). "Shock Waves (1977) (Blu-ray)". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  7. ^ Naugle, Patrick (2002-12-05). "Shock Waves". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  8. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (2002). Horror Films of the 1970s. McFarland & Company. pp. 70–72. ISBN 9780786491568.
  9. ^ Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 159–161. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.

External links[edit]