“Shock Waves” is one of those ’70s horror movies that’s almost great. All the elements for a memorable genre entry are there: Ken Wiederhorn’s direction is languid, the score is downright unsettling, and the isolated locations make the whole thing feel oppressive. However, the central threat of encroaching Nazi zombies doesn’t really ever register as well as it should: There are some really interesting underwater shots that give the movie dually distinct visual and sonic identities, but there’s a bit of an overall dramatic inertia that dilutes the atmosphere. It’s hard to get particularly interested in the narrative when the characters don’t leave much of an impression, despite the presence of horror legends like Peter Cushing and John Carradine. Still, those underwater zombie shots really are striking and they’re alongside other genuinely creepy shots, like a ghostly ship that appears in the dead of night and threatens to overwhelm our seafaring protagonists. So I would say it’s worth a shot at least once for horror fans and it has its moments, but it’s not exactly the underappreciated masterpiece that its reputation suggests.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)