The same year that he starred as an evil member of the Empire in George Lucas' "Star Wars," Cushing lent his talents to this effective low-budget zombie film about undead Nazis on a Caribbean island. It's also known as "Almost Human" and "Death Corps."
"Shockwaves" was Cushing's last excellent horror film and one of the better fear flicks of the 1970s. Cushing is in fine form as an aging Nazi who resides on a nearly deserted island whose solitude is invaded by the survivors of a passenger ship that crashed nearby. Carradine is only in the film briefly. Frequent horror film starlet Brooke Adams ("Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "The Unborn") plays the lone survivor of the horrible ordeal.
The survivors find themselves up against a small platoon of super-killers developed by Nazi scientists experimenting on convicts during the War. But the unstoppable zombies were so unruly and dangerous (killing soldiers on their own side of the war) that even the Nazis didn't want them. So they dispatched them to this deserted island in the Caribbean.
The scenes where the Nazi-zombies emerge from under water are especially freaky and the film manages to maintain atmosphere and tension throughout. The zombies actually walk underwater, giving the film an aquatic eeriness that was likely influenced by "Jaws." Despite the movie's own influences, "Shock Waves" has also been imitated by others. It clearly had a great influence on Fulci's "Zombie," another island-based living dead flick. The idea of underwater Nazi zombies was also shamelessly ripped off by Jean Rollin's horrible film "Zombie Lake." Not even remotely as gory as "Dawn of the Dead" or "Zombie," but a must-see for fans of the genre. It's tragically out of print on video, but you might find it on eBay or collecting dust on some video store shelves.
Wiedderhorn would stay on the zombie theme into the 1980s, when he would go on to direct "Return of the Living Dead 2." He also helmed the interesting and very sleazy little slasher film "Eyes of a Stranger." But "Shock Waves" was his most important movie, and one that still commands the respect of horror film fanatics the world over. It may seem a little dated and slow to some, but it came out in the golden era of gut-wrenching terror -- the 1970s -- and it delivers the goods. A great film.
Once They Were Almost Human!
Beneath the living... Beyond the dead... From the depths of Hell's Ocean!
The Deep End of Horror!