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Film / Combat Shock

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"I go back there every night, without fail."

Combat Shock is a 1986 action war drama released by Troma Entertainment.

The film follows a disturbed Vietnam veteran named Frankie Dunlan, whose sanity begins to slip from his life in the New York slums with depraved junkies, his naggy wife, and a baby that's severely deformed from his exposure to Agent Orange during the war; all while struggling to find work to support him and his family.

The movie was released in 1986 to very mixed reviews, but has since gotten a bit of a cult status.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • B-Movie: It's a Troma film after all.
  • Body Horror: The baby, who has birth defects from Agent Orange due to Frankie being exposed to it.
  • Creator Cameo: The voice of Frankie's deformed baby is provided by director Buddy Giovinazzo.
  • Darker and Edgier: Quite possibly Troma's darkest production ever made, with virtually none of the self-aware humor that characterizes the company's other productions.
  • Downer Ending: After failing to get any food or money, Frankie goes completely insane and kills his family, then commits suicide.
  • Drone of Dread: When the soundtrack isn't sounding like an upbeat synth-pop instrumental, it's this.
  • From Bad to Worse: Frankie calls his dad up for money, turns out even he's broke and has a heart condition
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: One of Frankie's flashbacks sees a member of his squad being blasted in half by artillery fire.
  • Henpecked Husband: One of the many torments Frankie must endure is his shrewish wife, with whom he frequently argues over his unemployment and their son's health.
  • Industrial Ghetto: The neighborhood where Frankie and his family live.
  • Jerkass: Frankie's wife Cathy can come off as this. She's constantly nagging him and is pretty insensitive to his trauma from Vietnam. Granted, she's not wrong about Frankie needing a job and how serious their situation is, but her constant nagging and her disregard for her husband's serious personal issues still make her come off as an insensitive jerk.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Frankie has flashbacks of being ambushed by an NVA squad and being tortured as a POW.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: At times, the soundtrack has the feel of a jaunty 1980s synth-pop number, in jarring contrast to the grim subject matter.
  • War Is Hell: Though what comes afterwards is arguably much, much worse for Frankie.
  • Wretched Hive: 1980s New York. Unemployment is at an all-time high, criminals, drug dealers and hookers roam the streets, and the neighborhoods are badly run-down.