Shock Waves (1977)

PG | 86 mins | Horror, Adventure | 21 September 1977

Director:

Ken Wiederhorn

Producer:

Reuben Trane

Cinematographer:

Reuben Trane

Editor:

Norman Gay

Production Designer:

Jessica Sack
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HISTORY

Producer-director of photography Reuben Trane and writer-director Ken Wiederhorn were students at Columbia University in New York City when they won a 1973 Academy Award for Best Dramatic Student Film, the 5 Aug 1975 HR and 11 Aug 1975 Box reported. Shock Waves was their first commercial feature. They began principal photography in Jul 1975, shooting in 16mm, which was later blown up to 35mm. Filming lasted several weeks. It was British actor Peter Cushing's first American film since 1938.
       According to the winter 1977 issue of Cinemagic magazine, the film, under the title Death Corps, was shot in Miami and West Palm Beach, FL, in 1975 for $150,000. Most of Cushing's scenes were filmed in West Palm Beach's abandoned Biltmore Hotel. The swamp scenes were located near Miami's Crandon Park, and a scene in which actor John Carradine’s character, “Captain Ben Morris,” was found dead underwater was shot in Trane’s personal swimming pool. A later article in the 22 May 1978 LAT noted that the filmmakers raised $200,000 to make Shockwaves.
       Music director Richard Einhorn employed eerie incidental music that had been used in Carnival of Souls (1962, see ... More Less

Producer-director of photography Reuben Trane and writer-director Ken Wiederhorn were students at Columbia University in New York City when they won a 1973 Academy Award for Best Dramatic Student Film, the 5 Aug 1975 HR and 11 Aug 1975 Box reported. Shock Waves was their first commercial feature. They began principal photography in Jul 1975, shooting in 16mm, which was later blown up to 35mm. Filming lasted several weeks. It was British actor Peter Cushing's first American film since 1938.
       According to the winter 1977 issue of Cinemagic magazine, the film, under the title Death Corps, was shot in Miami and West Palm Beach, FL, in 1975 for $150,000. Most of Cushing's scenes were filmed in West Palm Beach's abandoned Biltmore Hotel. The swamp scenes were located near Miami's Crandon Park, and a scene in which actor John Carradine’s character, “Captain Ben Morris,” was found dead underwater was shot in Trane’s personal swimming pool. A later article in the 22 May 1978 LAT noted that the filmmakers raised $200,000 to make Shockwaves.
       Music director Richard Einhorn employed eerie incidental music that had been used in Carnival of Souls (1962, see entry).
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Aug 1975.
---
Box Office
25 Aug 1975.
---
Box Office
20 Jun 1977.
---
Cinemagic
#9, 1977
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 1975.
---
LAHExam
29 Jun 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Sep 1977
Section G, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
22 May 1978
Section G, p. 13.
Variety
8 Oct 1980
p. 22, 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Joseph Brenner Associates, Inc. Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Underwater photog
Asst cam
Chief elec
Still photog
Grip
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt
MAKEUP
Make up des
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Almost Human
Death Corps
Release Date:
21 September 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 21 September 1977
Production Date:
began July 1975 in Miami, Florida
Copyright Claimant:
Zopix Company
Copyright Date:
25 May 1990
Copyright Number:
PA470433
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastmancolor
Duration(in mins):
86
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Lying delirious in a rowboat, Rose is rescued by fishermen. She remembers being on Captain Ben Morris’s aging charter boat, traveling between Caribbean islands with a galley hand named Dobbs, a first mate named Keith, and three fellow paying passengers: Chuck, and a couple named Norman and Beverly. In Rose’s recollection, sunlight bathes the sky and sea in yellowish orange and strange noises came from the water below. At dinner, Norman complains to the captain about the boat’s poor seaworthiness, and says they should return to the last port, but the captain says they will continue on, because he has already spent their fare on repairs. That night, Rose visits Keith on his watch and asks where they are, but he tells her the compass, like the radio, has not been working for hours, and so he has no idea of their location. The sea rumbles beneath them, and a dark shape comes out of the mist, grazing the boat and shaking everyone awake. Captain Moore shoots a flare into the air, illuminating the hulk of an old ship stranded on a sand bar. Morning light reveals a nearby island, a rusted hulk lying not far away, and the disappearance of Captain Morris. Keith scuba-dives below and tells the others they have run aground on a reef. They must wait until the tide lifts them off. Below deck, Dobbs discovers the hull is too badly damaged for them to remain on board, so Keith rows them to the island in a dinghy with a partial glass-bottom. As they approach shore, they see the captain’s body floating beneath them. From the beach, they wade through a jungle swamp until they ... +


Lying delirious in a rowboat, Rose is rescued by fishermen. She remembers being on Captain Ben Morris’s aging charter boat, traveling between Caribbean islands with a galley hand named Dobbs, a first mate named Keith, and three fellow paying passengers: Chuck, and a couple named Norman and Beverly. In Rose’s recollection, sunlight bathes the sky and sea in yellowish orange and strange noises came from the water below. At dinner, Norman complains to the captain about the boat’s poor seaworthiness, and says they should return to the last port, but the captain says they will continue on, because he has already spent their fare on repairs. That night, Rose visits Keith on his watch and asks where they are, but he tells her the compass, like the radio, has not been working for hours, and so he has no idea of their location. The sea rumbles beneath them, and a dark shape comes out of the mist, grazing the boat and shaking everyone awake. Captain Moore shoots a flare into the air, illuminating the hulk of an old ship stranded on a sand bar. Morning light reveals a nearby island, a rusted hulk lying not far away, and the disappearance of Captain Morris. Keith scuba-dives below and tells the others they have run aground on a reef. They must wait until the tide lifts them off. Below deck, Dobbs discovers the hull is too badly damaged for them to remain on board, so Keith rows them to the island in a dinghy with a partial glass-bottom. As they approach shore, they see the captain’s body floating beneath them. From the beach, they wade through a jungle swamp until they see a stately but abandoned hotel. Meanwhile, a Nazi SS officer wearing dark goggles walks underwater toward the shore and his head breaks the surface. After exploring the hotel, the six visitors find an aquarium with fish and an old wind-up Victrola playing a 78-rpm phonograph record. As the music whines to a stop, a voice from above asks why they are there, and Keith shouts that their boat hit an old wreck on a reef. A silhouette of an emaciated man appears on a balcony, tells them he lives there alone, and says there are no hulks near the island, but when Keith recalls part of the ship’s name, the man leaves the house and hurries through the swamp to the beach. The sight of the ghost ship alarms him. That night, the six visitors sleep together for safety in a hotel room. When Dobbs wakes up in the morning, he returns to the boat to gather provisions, but when he sees strange figures among the trees, he panics and falls on a spiky plant as several Nazi zombies converge on him. Keith finds the host, who insists that the castaways leave immediately, because “danger is in the water.” He gives Keith directions to a small sailboat moored in the swamp that can get them to a nearby island. Outside, Rose swims in the swamp and finds Dobbs’s body. As she and Keith drag the corpse onto dry land, they find an SS insignia in his fist. At that moment, they see two Nazi zombies watching from the trees. Returning to the hotel, Rose and Keith find the host in a room bedecked with Nazi flags. He explains that during WWII, he commanded a group of “perfect soldiers,” psychopathic killers genetically engineered by SS scientists to live and kill underwater. However, these special troops proved to be uncontrollable, and as Nazi Germany fell, SS headquarters ordered the commanders to destroy their units. He and his group escaped on a ship, and when his final orders never came, he scuttled the ship with its human cargo and came ashore to live on the island. Now, something has roused the troopers from their watery sleep. The commander again orders the castaways to leave and threatens to shoot them. The five survivors run into the swamp, find the sailboat, and pull it out of the jungle to the beach, where they get stuck on a mud bank. As they push the vessel, a series of accidents separates them from the boat and a current pulls it away. Nearby, as the commander gets a drink of fresh water, an SS zombie lying below reaches up and pulls him beneath the surface, drowning him. While Keith tries to catch up with the sail boat, Norman and Rose are separated from Beverly and Chuck as they make their way back to the hotel. The zombies kill Norman, but when a trooper tries to catch Rose, she snatches the goggles from his face, blinding him. When Rose, Chuck, Beverly, and Keith reassemble in the hotel, Keith fixes the door on a large kitchen freezer so they can lock it from the inside and defend themselves during the night. Chuck, who is claustrophobic, panics, points the captain’s flare gun at Keith, and demands to be let out. As he and Keith fight over the only flashlight among them, the flare gun accidentally goes off and fills the freezer with smoke. Chuck runs from the hotel and stumbles into a half-filled swimming pool, where he is killed by several zombies. Keith and Rose hide in a furnace, and Beverly locks herself in the freezer. In the morning, as Beverly opens the freezer door, an SS trooper waits for her, and by the time Keith and Rose find her, Beverly lies dead in the commander’s aquarium. Dodging zombies, Rose and Keith find the glass-bottom dinghy that first brought them ashore and try to row away, but a zombie reaches out of the water and pulls Keith off the boat. When Rose sees Keith again, he floats glass-eyed beneath the boat. Later, safely lying in a hospital and burnt by the sun, Rose recounts her ordeal in a notebook.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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