Thursday, July 1, 2010

SHOCK WAVES (Ken Wiederhorn, 1977, USA)

A group of vacationers is shipwrecked on an isolated atoll with an exiled Nazi and his undead legion. Director Ken Wiederhorn resurrects the Third Reich to complete its thousand year rule, the master race once almost human rising from the dark waters to advance their insidious holocaust.

Ken Wiederhorn imbibes every horror cliché, bookending the film as a survivalist tale of insanity, relying on the generic to create the narrative spark. His characters are lifeless zombies…an I’m not talking about the creatures. Each represents a specific trope; the good looking guy, the complaining egoist, the tough guy, the fat dude, and the women who are fuel for frisson. But the film doesn’t wallow in the shallows, it moves a bit deeper and begins to treads water. Wiederhorn doesn’t lower the film with slasher techniques, instead focused upon the mystery and pursuit, choking the audience with palpable tension. He doesn’t shy away from the gore but realizes the suspense is in discovering how the nubile protagonist survives, and doesn’t descend into a feeding frenzy of murderous delights. It’s actually a breath of fresh air to discover a horror film that sustains its namesake, if only briefly. Peter Cushing’s obligatory role expounds exposition but not much else, lending a credibility for genre aficionados. Though Wiederhorn fails to cover any new ground the film remains eminently watchable and shockingly enjoyable despite today’s corrupting genre standards. Final Grade: (C+)

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