Combat Shock Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 28, 2009
The film opens to a flashback of the Vietnam war and in particular, one soldier's plights of that war - it is a horrible intense sequence. As the movie progresses, we get to see what has happened to that solider. He is now living with a nagging wife and deformed baby son on the extreme poverty line in New York City. They haven't eaten for days and he wanders the streets, trying to look for work with no luck at all.

He suffers flashbacks and hallucinations throughout the film, where he is being tortured in 'Nam and then his supposed recovery in a hospital after. He is cut off from the world and desperate for money. We then meet one of his friends, a drug addict who is in equal dire straits. At one point, the addict uses a coat hanger to open his vein and pour in the drug whilst he bleeds - a truly horrifying moment.

This is very strong stuff. It has no budget but that somehow suits the story - it's totally gritty and real, no gloss whatsoever. It's probably the bleakest, most depressing film I've ever seen and all I can say is, if you're having a bad day or work or a bad day in general, just see what happens to this guy!

I got the excellent Troma DVD release which features the full uncut Director's version - the only one really worth seeing.

I don't know if I'd exactly recommend this; it's so hard going that it sure ain't entertainment, but it does have an appeal and is worth watching. However, if you're not used to zero-budget horror, avoid at all costs.
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2010
In stark contrast to most of the rest of the Troma catalog this film is a bleak portrait of a war veteran, haunted by visions of war, suffering in poverty and trying to create a decent living for himself and his family. It gets worse though... His first born child is badly deformed due to agent orange that was sprayed on him during Vietnam, he is unable to find a job and is constantly hassled by loan shark goons, all his friends are junkies in just as bad shape as him and he is soon to be evicted from his apartment, with no prospects in site. A scathing critique of America in the 1980's for sure, and not for the feint of heart. Must see for fans of Taxi Driver, Eraserhead, Driller Killer, I Stand Alone, The Bicycle Thieves and others of that ilk.
Super Reviewer
½ February 6, 2009
This film follows the story of a war veteran who once back from seeing some very horrible things as well as being a prisoner for two years starts to have flashbacks not only that to add to his problems he has a wife thats always on his case some neighborhood toughs that he owes money too a drugged out friend and a deformed child that is the result of him being exposed to gasses during the war untill one day he finally snaps and leaves behind a very shocking ending. This movie released by Troma is low budget and has some bad acting like most Troma movies but this one i would consider a cut above the rest and any fan of cheesy bad movies should check it out
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2007
One of the most depressing films ever made, but if watched non-stop for days becomes an amazing black comedy.
½ March 18, 2011
If films can be a door way to escapism, they also show you reality. From the inspirational to downright depressing, films can nearly show up to everything, and Combat Shock tells us that life just sucks. The film's central character has suffered a lot while in Vietnam. Aside from the rats, tiger cages, torture, murder, and death, his services at Vietnam were just the easy part of Combat Shock. Now that he is home, his life just sucks even more, for he is an unemployed bum with a nagging hideous wife, an ungodly deformed baby although not as hideous as the wife (ho, ho), a junky friend, a dying father, and a terrible apartment in the middle of downtrodden slum with thugs, gangsters, bums, and young girls now turned into prostitutes. We see and experience the horrors of the American Nightmare. The most unbearable is when the film takes us to the welfare/unemployed office and wait in line! Not anymore, oh no, for Frank has found a solution to his problems! A revolver and some bullets which you know what that means! Bang pow boom, they are all dead. The most appeasing this about Combat Shock is the theatrical trailer which outrages as mayhem is displayed while the announcer shouts the title over and over. The most intense parts on this film is actual documentary footage from the Vietnam War. Despite a strong provoking look into America after Vietnam, Combat Shock suffer from terrible pacing, inept acting, editing, and direction. There was also some unsolved question which I wondered how Frank got out. I am going to guess it was the same way he escapes the crummy life he has. The only original thing the film also has going for is the soundtrack to it and special edition DVD, thank you Troma. It is loaded with all kinds of fun and nauseating stuff. However, the film itself is bleak in film making and not for its context. That comes close.
½ September 17, 2012
A grim low budget story of a Vietnam vet set on the mean streets of NYC as he tries to maintain his increasingly slipping sanity, this one has a certain reputation behind it that I've always been curious about, so I was happy to finally give it a peep off the To-Watch Pile.

It lives up to most of the hype, and would be recommended to most anyone who is a fan of low budget horror.
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2009
Don't let the fact that this is a Troma movie throw you, this movie is definitely not your average Troma fare. This an extremely downbeat portrait of urban decay and of a man trying, and failing, to cope with it. The acting may not be top notch, but the grittiness and sleazy atmosphere that the film gives off more than make up for it. And the ending is something that should stick with you for quite a while. Anyone familiar with the band Suicide will recognize the plot, seeing as how it was taken from one of their songs, right down to the main character's first name. This is a good movie to watch if you need to feel better about your own life, unless your life resembles the main character's, in which case god help you.
June 14, 2008
I can't recommend this as high-art by any means; it was obviously produced on the cheap with horrible acting throughout. Still, they caught a scuzzy vibe that money will never buy. It's like First Blood, Taxi Driver and Eraserhead were mushed into one movie and produced with money found in the couch.
October 22, 2007
I was impressed by the originality of the story and the visual representations of horror. Also, the locations were outstanding.
September 8, 2007
Bottom line - this movie is kick ass. It's better than any Hollywood studio Vietnam Vet in the real world movie you'll ever see.
½ January 10, 2007
The theatrical versionwas out of sync, by different amount depending on the shot, frequently out of frame and began with a trailer for itself. It also looked like the print had been sanded in the lab. Too bad they fixed this for video - it was the only thing that made it worth watching.
½ January 2, 2015
Definitely one of Troma's more down to earth and excruciating results. the utter grittiness and bluntness of Combat Shock is a definite stand-out in the Troma chronicles.
October 14, 2013
A very dark (vetsploitation?) drama (listed as horror on Netflix?) about a down-on-his-luck Viet Nam vet which takes place over the course of two days. His slow decent into madness is due to atrocities he witnessed (caused?) and then the atrocities he suffered caused by the Viet Cong (or maybe his own people?). He has a retard baby at home. Troma symbol scared me, but I read they had nothing to do with the producing, directing, casting, scripting, etc - just distribution - so that is allowable.
½ January 9, 2013
I was somewhat floored by this dread ridden slice of Namsploitation. Here i am expecting some tromatastic Taxi Driver clone and what i got was a surprise sense of substance with Combat Shock. This is the textbook definition of "grunge art". Along with "Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia", here's a film choking itself with so much nihilism, it creates a tone of hopelessness so constant and relentless, you are enticed nonetheless.

The production values are piss poor and could not be more fitting. Non actors, tone deaf mood synth and low, even for troma standard of cinematography all combine to immerse you into one mans constant nightmare existence.

I cannot recommend this film on any level of entertainment or conventional basis of merit. It's just an experience so devoted to its depression, it comes off as potent, even moving.

Still, for die hard celluloid cynics only.
February 5, 2012
Good original film but not a movie I'd watch twice in a hurry
June 14, 2011
Watched the "director's cut", under the original AMERICAN NIGHTMARE title last night. I'd forgotten how influenced by ERASERHEAD Giovinazzo was when it made this. The depiction of urban rot and decay goes farther than Lynch film and makes for a far more uncomfortable viewing experience.
½ January 31, 2010
Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo in 1986, this is probably the most depressing Vietnam vet movie ever made.

Plot: The story is very simple. An ex prisoner of war tries to survive unemployment, hunger, drug addiction, extreme poverty, and a nagging wife. To make matters worse, our friend Frankie was exposed to the spraying of Agent Orange over Vietnam during the war. The outcome after his 2 year captivity as a P.O.W, is a constant screaming deformed baby.


Frankie is constantly nagged by his wife for being a victim of post Vietnam unemployment. As Frankie tries to find employment failing miserably, he wanders the streets avoiding the discomfort of his home. Our friend is starving and drinks sour milk out of desperation.
He later meets an addict friend in lack of a needle. He is trying to cut his veins open with rusty coat hanger to sprinkle the drugs into. As he continues to wander the slums, he meets a gang of thugs with bad hair, who beat him up and mug him.

I'm sure you can imagine how the film progresses, so there is no need to go into further detail.

Filmed on a budget lower than the film looks, it actually helps the narrative and mood. The photography looks clumsy and the editing cheap and rushed. The soundtrack is awful weird 80's synth that goes on and on through out the whole film, irritating the viewer. There are long shots of Frankie walking the streets doing nothing at all. A lot of the film is told in flashbacks and hallucinations as well. The downbeat low production value actually helps the films mood and looks.

Don't let this put you down because it is all quite nicely put together and delivers a punch. This is bleak depressing stuff, filmed in the outskirts of Staten Island. Strong stomachs are required, so you have been warned.

Not a film to recommend if you're not into the genre, but if you enjoy weird films as a sleazy anthropological discovery, you're in for a treat. Just imagine "Taxi Driver meets Eraserhead" on a budget cheaper than a roll of toilet paper.

I had this on a Norwegian VHS that trimmed the final anti climatic ending by 15 minutes. It is now available totally uncut as a "Directors Cut" DVD released by Troma.


Okay ... I can't help myself ... the final 15 min : Frankie throws his screaming deformed infant in the oven and blows his brains out.

Sorry folks.
½ July 10, 2010
what a waste of a good script! for a troma movie this scrip is out of the place! the script of this movie is really spectacular! Superb ultra-pathos melodrama! The trouble with this movie is that the actors are a bunch of morons, the editing is ridiculous, and the narrative is a piece of junk!
The reason i give this movie 50% is really because of the script! I know i may be killed for this but i would compare the story of this movies to something like the writings of william shakespeare! If this movie was remade whith good actors and a much better director this would come out a great masterpiece, something like Taxi Driver i mean!
½ June 12, 2010
Ziemlich eigenwillige und krasse low budget Produktion aus dem Jahre 1985. Das Geschehen konnte ich zwar nicht immer ganz ernst nehmen und phasenweise ist der Film auch recht langweilig geraten, doch zumindest Anfang und Ende haben mich überzeugen können, und das ist immerhin auch schon etwas.
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