The Curator of Schlock #160 by Jeff Shuster

Shock Waves

Nazi zombies are the Taliban of the zombie world.

I think I promised you eager beavers a story last week, a twisted tale to keep awake well past the witching hour. Okay. So there was this pigman who lived in Angola, New York. Well, he wasn’t an actual pigman as in a man who is part pig and part man. He was a butcher of pigs, ran a hog farm. He didn’t like the local teenagers coming on his property, getting all up in his business. He used to impale pig heads on spikes surrounding his property as a warning for them to keep off his lawn. Still, that didn’t deter those rotten teenagers. A few of them decided to sneak over one night so the pigman chopped their heads off and put those heads on spikes. They should have left well enough alone.

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Which brings us to tonight’s picture, Shock Waves, a 1977 horror film from director Ken Wiederhorn. Okay, it doesn’t feature teenagers going where they’re not supposed to go. It’s about a group of tourists on a commercial freighter, sunning and swimming on and in the Atlantic Ocean. I assume it’s the Atlantic because I’m an east coast guy, but it’s not really mentioned. A cantankerous John Carradine plays the ship’s captain.

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Don’t worry. He’s the first one to die. We also have a pervy ship’s cook who we know is pervy because of all the pictures of naked women he has plastered around the kitchen. Don’t worry. He dies too. In fact, the cook dies by getting his face impaled on a cluster of sea urchins. What a way to go.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself here. So we have a young couple and a middle aged couple who booked the lamest vacation you could think, stuck on a crappy boat in the middle of the Atlantic for a couple of weeks. And then that little commercial vessel crashes into a ghost ship, but not just any ghost ship. It’s the rusty husk of once mighty Nazi battleship. And there are Nazi zombies lurking somewhere in the waters.

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Now if the TV show, Breaking Bad, taught me anything, it’s that Nazi zombies are even worse than regular zombies because Nazi zombies hate Americans. I’ve always thought that if a zombie takes a bite of me that I shouldn’t take it personally. After all, it’s just their nature. But Nazi zombies have clear anti-American bias. They can also walk with a clear stride and even have some stealth abilities. You never see them coming and neither can the characters in this movie. Plus, they have blond hair and what I imagine to be blue eyes except they wear these goggle sunglasses that will kill them if removed. Yeah. No fooling. Just remove their goggles and they’re toast. They don’t like the sun.

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The commercial freighter gets stranded on a nearby island and while exploring, the tourists run into an old, retired Nazi Commander played by none other than Peter Cushing, who also starred in a slightly more famous film in 1977. He was in charge of the Death Corp, an indestructible squad of underwater Nazi zombies. Did I mention they can breathe underwater? Maybe they don’t breathe at all, and that’s the point.

Is there a lesson to be learned in all of this?

I think so.

I think the lesson is when fighting a war, don’t create a squad of indestructible, underwater zombies. They tend to do whatever they want (which usually means killing anything that breathes).

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Jeffrey Shuster 1

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.
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