A diving trip gone wrong puts a vacationing group into a sticky situation with what should be the coolest film villain of all time… Nazi zombies. Unfortunately, this one ends up being all wet (very punny!). John Carradine plays the Captain of a shoddy diving boat taking tourists off on a discount trip. After having a few engine problems finally worked out, they set sail back on course. The only problem is they don’t really know where they are, so finding that course could prove to be a little difficult… All they end up finding are Shock Waves!
During the night, deckhand Keith and one of the passengers, Rose are talking about their course, when something happens to unearth a giant freighter wreck. The rising wreck from the ocean floor manages to damage the hull of their boat, and their Captain disappears the next morning. They decide to evacuate to the shore of a nearby island, and during their trip they find the body of their Captain gurgling underwater. Once they arrive on the island, it first appears to be desolate, but they notice a structure in the distance which they discover to be an abandoned hotel.
When they get to the hotel, a weird old man (Peter Cushing) is waiting for them to basically tell them to get the hell out of dodge. He’s been alone for a long time and would like to keep it that way. After the shipwrecked crew tell him about the shipwreck they ran into on the reef, he becomes agitated and needs to have a look for himself. After some more of the slow moving story, the old man reveals himself as an old Nazi Commander, leader of a group of soldiers known as the Death Corps, or Totenkopf, who are neither dead, nor alive – but somewhere in between. Once the war was over, he escaped with his soldiers, and wandered the seas aimlessly until he realized no new commands were coming from base, so he decided to sink the ship with his soldiers aboard, and he would voluntarily seclude himself for his remaining days on this island. Oh, and by the way, these guys are trained for water combat… so you guys are pretty much screwed – did I forget to mention that?
So, Nazi zombies… That sounds like probably one of the coolest types of zombies, right? Well, these guys are kinda like zombies, but not really. They don’t eat brains, they don’t really care about brains at all, they just kill. Oh, and they don’t kill you by smashing your skull or running after you or eating you alive, they basically plod along solitarily and wait until you’re near water so they isolate you and they drown you. Yeah, you read right, they drown you. Oh, and how do you take them out? Shoot them in the head? No no no… You take off their dark goggles that they wear… See, the bright light hurts their eyes so much that they collapse and then their faces get all mushy and stuff.
The characters are mostly inconsequential. The only two that are even cool are Keith and Rose. One of the passengers, “Norman” is such a douche, you wish he’d just die first. He’s a whiny 5 year old trapped in a middle aged man’s body. The “stars” of this one, David Carradine and Peter Cushing, do a pretty bad job. Carradine is convincing as a drunk old broken down boat Captain, but I don’t know if he was supposed to appear that drunk. Cushing on the other hand has awesome command of accents as he can’t decide if he should have an English, French or German one. To be fair, he was probably posted all throughout Europe, so maybe he got it confused being a Nazi officer and all.
When it’s all said and done, this one just doesn’t end up being exciting, thrilling or horrifiying at all. It does have some entertainment value in a scene that I had to rewind several times near the end where a small group of survivors decides to hole themselves up in a big refridgerator to hold off the creeping death. One member gets claustrophobic and overreacts in arguably the best performance of the film. There’s no gore, the pacing is sloooow, and the action is nearly nonexistant. I really wanted to like it, and looked forward to watching it, but it ultimately disappointed me. Shock Waves rates at 1.5 waterlogged nazi zombies out of 5