Shock Waves (Ken Wiederhorn / U.S., 1977):

Between Tourneur’s tropical undead and Robert Minor’s famous Free Masses cartoon ("At last! A perfect soldier"), Ken Wiederhorn has plenty to work with. The oceanic opening features iridescent gradations of blue and orange and John Carradine as a link to Sekely’s Revenge of the Zombies. The Final Girl (Brooke Adams) is introduced catatonic in a lifeboat adrift, her flashback reveals a gaggle of cranky tourists hoping for "one hell of a yarn" and getting it in an island off the Florida coast, with colonial arches and WWII holdovers amid the foliage. Nazi ghouls ("neither dead nor alive, but somewhere in between") comprise the Wellsian joke, goggle-wearing Aryan mummies engineered by the SS Dr. Moreau (Peter Cushing) feebly lording over the marshlands. The tone is nightmarishly tranquil, the action moves surreally from beachfront to swamp to darkened swimming pool, claustrophobia gets to the point where even the toughest castaway would rather face the shuffling death squad than stay inside another pressure-cooker chamber. An ineffably ethereal and erudite frisson-fest, which manages to register Santayana’s warning while brushing ever so slightly against Germany Year Zero (a phonograph forgotten amid a regime's rubble) and Through a Glass Darkly (living corpses emerging from the sea and trudging toward the camera). Reviewers who dismissed it as trash were most deserving of The Boys from Brazil the following year. With Luke Halpin, Fred Buch, Jack Davidson, D.J. Sidney, and Don Stout.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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