Shock Waves (1977) Directed by Ken Wiederhorn
I’m nonplussed I must say, though not in a positive way, this lousy b-horror is one of those unusual contemporary pieces that somehow evoke not its modern existence but the old traditions of the past. The traditionalism of this ridiculous plot about aquatic walking dead Nazis stalking the surroundings of a dilapidated island evades graphic brutality, obscenity and grotesque bombast to be more a piece of mood than of shock; part by part its design mimics the classic Hollywood horror system – the ominous island is interchangeable with a haunted house, and its ambiguity interchangeable with expressionistic mysticism – respecting the architectural patterns as a staunch fundamentalist. Sadly, its classical frontality loses meaning and momentum through the banality of its narrative. Ken Wiederhorn helms this failed attempt at b-movie horror à la Val Lewton, that even with Peter Cushing’s earnest, thrilling performance as the acting mainstay, the languor of his erratic camerawork ruins absolutely everything. John Carradine also brings an ephemeral charm to the mood, and Brooke Adams does her thing with her overacted interventions, yet these are superficial pleasures. You know something is wrong with a movie when 99 percent of its effectiveness comes from its haunting score alone, well, this is exactly the case with Shock Waves. Richard Einhorn’s vital, wildly unnerving synthesizer music composes a mishmash of non-diegetic sounds that empower and spruce up the visual amateurism. Certainly, the film cheats with that grandiose element; every time Einhorn’s synthesizer stops playing, the incompetence of this crummy product becomes all too obvious.