Tag Archives: John Carradine

Shock Waves (1977)

 

Nazi zombies from Shock Waves (1977)

Arise Zombie! Shock Waves

When it comes to the genre of Nazi Zombie movies, the field might be a bit small but it’s filled with good choices, and Shock Waves is probably the best choice of them all.  Wait there is a whole sub genre of Nazi zombie horror?  Yes, yes there is Virginia. Recent films like Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2, join the Outpost series, and  Jean Rollin’s 1981 Zombie Lake (and a few other odd entries) but the king of them all is Shock Waves from 1977.

Shock Waves stars Hammer Stalwart Peter Cushing as a former Nazi scientist along with Brooke Adams, who sizzles the screen in her bikini, and former Flipper star Luke Halpin all grown up. Shock Waves also stars one of the most iconic actors in horror, John Carradine playing one of his usual gruff, cantankerous characters.

The film starts off with Brooke Adams being found floating adrift, looking far worse then she does later in the film. She relates her story, which becomes the main body of the film. Carradine is the captain of a broken down boat taking Adams and a group of vacationers on an island tour, a three hour tour. Well actually it’s about ninety minutes. Halpin is his long suffering first mate, who has attracted the eye and attention of Adams.

Brooke Adams in a yellow bikini in Shock Waves

Brooke Adams helps make Shock Waves (1977) visually appealing

Things quickly go from cantankerous, to bad to worse, as the boat is enveloped in a strange orange haze, then side-swiped by a mysterious ghost ship. The crew and passengers find themselves scuttled on a mysterious island, sans the Captain and with a rusting hulk looming nearby. They go ashore to find a seemingly deserted hotel, where they run into Cushing and his strangely British sounding German accent.

Peter Cushing in Shock Waves

Peter Cushing gives his best go at a German accent in Shock Waves

People start to disappear and Cushing relates how he helped engineer Nazi super soldiers who could exist in any extreme and were virtually indestructible, When the reich was collapsing he was ordered to dispose of his group of water breathing zombies (is that an oxymoron? breathing zombies?). He accomplishes this by sinking the ship they are on, in what was probably not such a smart way to get rid of water breathing monsters.

The castaways aren’t buying it till the goggle clad undead attack in force, forcing a desperate fight and flight to get off the island.  This eventually takes us full circle, and spoiler free, to the opening scene.

I have a fondness for horror films from this era, and Shock Waves is one of my favorite. It is also highly under rated and gets no where near the buzz of other horror classics of the seventies. While it might not be a genre defining film, it is a one of those movies that still packs an impact today.

The effects aren’t flashy but they come across as reaslistic. No rotting, walking dead, type zombies but they look suffeciently water logged, and the goggles and Nazi uniforms add a chillingly creepy look to the undead.

The actors all do there job, Carradine is the same old Carradine as he is in so many movies, gruff, angry and mean.  Cushing gives his usual commanding preformance in his limited screen time. He is perfect in the role, even though the accent doesnt exactly fit. If I have one issue with Shock Waves, it’s that I would have loved to see much more of Cushing in the film.

Brooke Adams and her bikini almost steal the film from the two horror icons. Acting wise, she holds her own. Oscar worthy? No, but for one of her first starring roles it’s good enough, and doesn’t hurt the film. The scenes of her in a bikini though are truly epic. She wears a swimsuit like a swimsuit should be worn,and her underwater scenes rival those of Jacqualine Bisset in The Deep, without the wet t-shirt.

Brooke Adams in a bikini

Bikini clad Brooke Adams has a glow about her in Shock Waves

The one thing that makes Shock Waves a classic, in my opinion, is the armosphere. From the very opening a sense of dread hangs over the movie. From the lighting, to the sound, to the zombies themselves,Shock Waves is one creepy movie. The mood and atmosphere is also one of the things that make it just effective today as it was when it was released.

While so many movies, even the acknowledged classics like Halloween and The Hills Have Eyes, are heavily dated, and dont hold that same punch, Shock Waves still makes for great late night viewing.

Shock Waves is available now on Amazon video on demand and DVD and is scheduled to be released on Blu Ray later this year. Do yourself a favor and check it out on which ever format you prefer

Shock Waves


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Billy the Kid vs Dracula

Billy the Kid Versus Dracula


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No, I’m not joking. This is a real movie about the meeting between the infamous Billy the Kid and the mythical Dracula. I had heard about this film long ago and was never able to track it down until the magic of Netflix. This is a film for those that enjoy a bad movie. The fact that everyone took this film completely serious is what makes it enjoyable. Be prepared for silly dialogue, sillier violence and a few major WTF moments. Then enjoy Billy the Kid vs Dracula.

The story centers on Dracula, played this time by John Carradine, who was no stranger to the role. He had played the immortal count back in the mid 1940s in Universal’s House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein. It might be noted that for an immortal he died in both films. Twenty years is a long time for a moral actor though and Carradine seems ill fit for Dracula. He seems much a threatening villain, and more a cantankerous senior citizen who has just found out casino night was canceled. I have a lot of respect for Carradine and his work in horror, but this wasn’t the right casting for a serious film. For fans of bad cinema though, it’s brilliant but sad casting.

For some ungodly reason  Count  Dracula is traveling on a stage coast out west.  In another weird move on of the fellow passengers, decides to show the leering old man a picture of her nubile young daughter. Dracula’s face turns red and his eyes bug out. Seriously, this is his “I’m a vampire face.” Ignoring this “I’m a perv with a hard on” look from the stranger, she goes on to tell him about her ranch and the cave full of bats nearby.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula with John Carradine

Since Dracula is an elderly immortal and apparently not much for conflict, he arranges for a group of Indians to attack the stage-coach. Killing everyone on board except him (he failed to get on at the last stop). After the slaughter, he pops in and assumes the identity of the ranch owners brother.  Did I mention he did all of this in the bright sunlight ? In fact throughout the movie Carradine’s Dracula moves about freely in the daytime without so much as a sparkle.

Now we cut to the ranch where, the nubile object of Dracula’s elderly erection, Betty, is target practicing with Billy the Kid. Now it seems that Billy has reformed and is living under the assumed name of William Bonney. Yeah, yeah, well that’s the way I understood it. Facts, smacks, we’re talking Hollywood baby.

Billy has settled down and now spends his days courting Betty, running the ranch, and beating the shit out of his pudgy ranch hand plated by Harey Carey Jr. Though usually Billy has to resort to pulling his gun and threatening to kill him. He is reformed ya know.

Billy the kid vs Dracula

Dracula shows up and moves into the ranch in order to woo Betty. Which with him pretending to be her uncle should be easy. This brings him into conflict with Billy. Billy begins to believe “Mr. Underhill” is a vampire. Why? Because a couple of Germans told him so. It might seem hard to belive but the townspeople are reluctant to belive Billy, a former cold blooded killer, when he tells them the kindly gentleman is a blood thirsty immortal demon. A blood thirsty immortal demon with wrinkles and a few grey hairs.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula vamping out

Battle lines are drawn between Billy, the Sheriff, and the local female doctor on one side, and Dracula, the mesmerized Betty and fatty the cow wrangler on the other. The climactic battle takes place in the abandoned silver mine. Where Billy shoots Dracula to no avail (Bullets wont hurt a vampire, you have to drive a stake through his heart) and then throws his pistol at him. While bullets had no effect, the thrown pistol knocks Dracula on his ass. He lays stunned long enough for Billy to stake him.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula

Staking not only kills Dracula but sends a bat flying out of the cave to crash and die, while Dracula lies inside wilting away. Once he is gone, Betty revives, and that’s pretty much it.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula is one you seriously have to see to believe. There are so many scenes that will leave you laughing. Most notably for me was the “vampire face”, which was simply a red light shown on Carradine while he bugged his eyes out, and Dracula getting floored by a thrown pistol. It’s stupid, silly fun. It does drag as a lot of these cheapos do, and it’s one of the things that hurt these so bad they are good films. Bad acting and bad plot add to the fun at times, but boring and slow takes away from that fun.

Also the girl playing Betty, was really boring. If I was Dracula, I would have nailed the Indian hottie that he drained and left to piss off the war party. Carradine was fun to watch but probably not in the way he hoped. Watching him move across the screen, you wanted to give him a hand more than run in terror. Carradine played Dracula again in the 70s, and I would love to see that when I get the chance. I really do love the old gent, and he’s a true horror icon.

So final verdict? If you can’t enjoy a bad film, don’t bother. But if you can, and you want to see a piece of Americana on film, check out Billy the Kid vs Dracula