Combat Shock (1984) watch online


Directed by: Buddy Giovinazzo
Stars: Rick Giovinazzo, Veronica Stork, Mitch Maglio
Language: English
Country: Usa

Originally titled “American Nightmare”, this is a grim, depressing, heartfelt portrait of one Vietnam vet’s rage. Unemployed, penniless, and father of a deformed infant (possibly the result of Agent Orange spraying), leading man Frankie (Rick Giovinazzo) walks the streets of New Jersey like a shambling corpse and encounters various miscreants as troubled as himself. Harassed by his fat, complaining wife (a great performance from Veronica Stork), chased by thugs he owes money to, and threatened with eviction from an apartment that looks like it should have been condemned a decade ago, Frankie finally snaps and begins a campaign to erase his problems forever.

Giovinazzo’s triumph is his believable creation of a bleak, hopeless, fascinating world, a world that eats its weak, neglects its old, and turns its back on its history. New Jersey, as seen through the lens of cinematographer Stella Varveris, is a metaphor for the rot in America’s soul, a wasteland of trodden-on ambitions, poison dreams found in needles, and lingering death and disease.

The film employs Vietnam war footage, brutal recreations of Frankie’s tour of duty and a pulsing, disturbing, electronic score by lead actor Rick Giovinazzo. The film’s low budget is totally appropriate for the grim subject matter and the stark interior lighting never allows the poverty to be romanticized.

The performances are all excellent and one sequence, where Frankie calls his broke father for a favor, is shattering on so many levels.

“Combat Shock” is a very powerful achievement.

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