A group of thinly-written stereotypical characters is cruising some tropical islands aboard an old yacht which belongs to a nutty Captain (John Carradine).
At night the holidaymakers' fragile vessel is hit by a 'ghost ship' and promptly starts sinking, forcing everyone to get into a dingy and seek help on the nearest island, where a former Nazi (Peter Cushing) is living in 'voluntary exile'. Soon creepy goggled zombies come out of the sea and begin picking off the living one by one.
The best scenes of SHOCK WAVES seem to be wonderfully atmospheric silent film. Uniformed automatons wading through the water and doomed characters wandering about the deserted island.
Lack of a strong identification point really hurts the film.
Despite being introduced as protagonist, the lovely Brooke Adams remains a peripheral character throughout the film, with very few lines given to her.
Luke Halpin's character is also not much of a hero. Just think: in the beginning of SHOCK WAVES he's the only guy on deck at night. A gorgeous bikini-clad girl joins him and attempts to chat him up. So what does Luke do? His response to her advances is: 'I love the middle-of-the-night watch... it gives me a chance to be alone'. He might as well have just told her to beat it and try her luck with the Captain.
SHOCK WAVES shares with classic Italian zombie films such aspects as excellent location photography, eerie keyboard music and simple plot structure. The one important thing it has that no film by, say, Fulci could offer is on-set sound recording, which helps some of the very average performances fare better than they would have done otherwise.
Peter Cushing gives a wonderful performance as the SS Commander, although his attempts at German accent aren't entirely successful.
A film that deserves to be seen again and again for its effective simplicity.