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Ghastly ReflectionsShock Waves (1976)
POSTED BY TERENCE NUZUM, October 31, 2013    Share

Happy Halloween and welcome to my new column Ghastly Reflections. What is it about you might be wondering? Well "Ghastly" because it deals with horror, and "Reflections" for my own personal memories. I will cover everything from horror movies, TV shows, books, horror themed albums and more. I figured what better time of the year to start than on Halloween. So shove some trick or treat candy in your mouth, light some dusty old candles, lock the doors, and join me on a horrific nostalgia filled journey!

When I was a kid I loved nothing more than two things, horror films and monsters. In fact most anything creepy or eerie fascinated me. One horror film in particular grew from curiosity to obsession to finally a love. That film is the one and only Shock Waves. Ken Wiederhorn's Nazi zombie flick from 1976. Still the greatest film in that esoteric of all zombie genres. But why this film? And how did my love for this gem come about?

Like in a lot of cases it started in a video store. In the 1980's video rentals were huge and that being so I frequented a lot of them. I always either gravitated towards the horror section or the fantasy/sci-fi aisles. One fateful weekend when I was at my Dad's he decided to pick up some horror movies. Two caught his eye, one was Phantasm (that's for a different column though), and the other had the best cover I had ever seen. It showed (in a great 1980's painting style box cover) giant shriveled up men with goggles grabbing a ship out of the water like a toy. That film was Shock Waves. My Dad skipped that one and picked Phantasm instead. I was disappointed but after seeing Phantasm that subsided. Still Shock Waves was always in the back of my mind.

Some time after that, I believe, Dad rented Shock Waves for me. My memory is hazy on this but I did see it. I must've loved it because a couple years later I tracked this baby down all the way to the only Blockbuster Video store that had it in my vicinity all the way in Clearwater. This was around the time I was in High School and I was devouring all 1970's horror films I could. I would rent them and after school go to my aunt's house to record them to a blank tape. And now finally I had found Shock Waves!

As I said earlier I think Shock Waves is the best of the Nazi zombie sub-genre. The director Ken Wiederhorn directs the film with a mix of handheld shots and beautifully eerie washed out long shots. The underwater camera work is nothing short of amazing and the shots of the zombies submerging one by one out of the ocean is one of a kind stuff. And no ghost ship in all of cinema(its an actual wrecked ship with a concrete hull from 1926 that ran aground between the Bahamas' and Miami) is more creepy than the one presented here. The locals help too as the main characters run to and fro amongst island jungles and a deserted old hotel. It's a shame but Wiederhorn never directed anything this good before or after.

The cast does a decent job (including a young Brooke Adams who gives the best performance out of all the main characters) but let's face it, it is all held together by the late great Peter Cushing as the ex-Nazi now living on the island the characters crash on. Cushing as always adds a respectable and polished menace that is necessary to make the plot believable. It is also worth noting that one of my favorite names of 1970's horror, Alan Ormsby, did the makeup. Now while the zombie kills aren't gory or of the Romero variety the movie itself manages a dread and morose mood that is all culminated in one moment at the end that will stay with the viewer forever.

After all these years I revisit it every Halloween and it never fails me. I can't recommend this film enough and wish that more people knew of it. If you haven't seen it, get it as fast as you can and turn off all the lights! Because it still packs a punch!

"Ghastly Reflections" is ©2013 by Terence Nuzum. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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