As everyone knows, Jaws is one of the most successful films of all times. It is also what, sadly, is in these days a rare beast: a film whose degree of success was directly proportional to its quality. In cinematic terms, the direct legacy of Jaws has been two-fold: it created the phenomenon of the “Summer Blockbuster”; and it spawned, and continues to spawn, an apparently limitless number of rip-offs. Ignoring the qualities that actually made Jaws work, film-makers all around the world lifted the bare bones of its plot into productions of their own – producing a bizarre collection of movies that took place not just in the water, but also on land; that featured not just sharks, but piranha, giant squid, killer whales, bears, yeti, and even – God help us! – lawnmowers.
Indeed, there are few sub-genres as fertile – or indeed, as popular – as the Jaws rip-off. As such, it was an obvious choice for a Roundtable; so obvious, that the fact it took us so long to think of doing it induced much forehead-slapping and a collective cry of, “D’oh!” There was no squabbling over titles this time when it came to choosing our subjects – this was one Roundtable where a positive cornucopia of material was on offer. Moreover, the enthusiasm felt for the topic is evident in the fact that two of us were inspired to tackle multiple Roundtable entries.
Jabootu’s Ken Begg, ever the over-achiever (read: show-off), chose to tackle the truly Herculean task of reviewing all four “Jaws” movies. This was a novel experience for Ken, as it gave him the chance to review a good film for the first time ever. By the time of Jaws 3-D, however, he was back on familiar ground. Read his reviews consecutively, and discover how one of the greatest films of all time managed to produce two of the very worst sequels of all time.
Meanwhile, over at AYCYAS, it’s time for – Genetically Modified Killer Sharks! In Deep Blue Sea, we are offered some (wholly unnecessary) evidence of the fact that some people are much dumber than sharks; while in Creature, Peter Benchley makes yet another effort to duplicate the success of Jaws. Unfortunately, in this case, the sow’s ear remains a sow’s ear.
B-Notes and The Unknown Movies Page both take on examples of the Jaws rip-off that actually do feature sharks, Shark Attack III and Shark Hunter; while The Bad Movie Report, Cold Fusion Video Reviews, Braineater and Stomp Tokyo demonstrate how easily the Jaws clichés can applied to different monsters, reviewing films starring, respectively, a grizzly bear, a killer whale, an octopus, and [*cough*] the Loch Ness Monster.
So sit back, relax, and join the B-Masters as they take a look at some cinematic boat accidents – a bunch of movies that truly do bite.
|And You Call Yourself A Scientist!||Peter Benchley’s CreatureDeep Blue Sea||Peter Benchley’s Creature– “It comes as little surprise when Puckett proves the great white’s innocence by falling victim to the Creature himself – later bobbing up (literally) as the inevitable decapitated head. (The head is found in one of Puckett’s own poaching traps, which would seem to indicate that along with those for arms, legs and lungs, the Creature got whatever genes are responsible for a warped sense of humour.)”
Deep Blue Sea – “Susan sets off down a flooded corridor, treading carefully (as well she might: that water’s nearly three feet
deep, and you just never know where a seven-foot-high shark might be lurking).”
|Bad Movie Report||Grizzly||“If you’ve seen Jaws, the template is pretty clear: a national park is terrorized by a man-eating grizzly of extraordinary size and seeming intelligence, if not outright malevolence. Despite the warnings of the Brody character, the Mayor character refuses to close the park. Not because it’s the 4th of July, but because … um. According to Hardcore Park Ranger Kelly, it is because the bureaucrat is somehow planning to parley the media hubbub into a “brown plastic office in Washington”.”|
|Braineater||Tentacles||“Remember in Jaws how the Mayor and the town council didn’t want to close the beaches, because of the negative impact to the town’s economy? It became one of the most common tropes of the post-Jaws disaster movie. Well, Tentacoli doesn’t follow the pattern. In fact, once the alarm goes out, Solana Beach calls in the Coast Guard, whose attempt at a solution involves flying enormous helicopters within a few feet of the tiny sailboats, while a Guardsmen holds up a chalkboard reading “DANGER: GO BACK”. Brilliant.”|
|Cold Fusion Video Reviews||Orca||“Orca… that was the biggie. There were Hollywood dollars to invest in that one, both for production and for advertising. And thankfully, all of those resources weren’t wasted on a simple carbon-copy exploitation flick. Surprisingly, Orca has a lot going for it as a dramatic motion picture; much of it isn’t bad at all. Then, of course, there are those parts that are stupendously silly mixed in.”|
|Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension||JawsJaws 2Jaws 3-DJaws: The Revenge||Jaws– “Jaws is more than a great horror movie. It’s even more than the greatest monster movie of all time, barring King Kong. Rather than just topping any particular movie category, Jaws is, in my opinion, legitimately one of the finest films of all time.”
Jaws 2 – “Unfortunately, this remains the picture’s most immediate and persistent flaw. The idea of one giant killer shark establishing itself outside a New England island community is one thing. Having another do so a few years later is patently ridiculous. They’re aware of this, too, and admittedly they do what they can to mitigate the essential and all-too-obvious dumbness of the situation. Sadly, these efforts fail miserably.”
Jaws 3-D – “Ah, now I’m becoming more comfortable. This month I’ve experienced a change of pace by reviewing a classic motion picture, Jaws, and an average motion picture, Jaws 2. I’m back on familiar ground now, however, because Jaws 3, not to put too fine a point on things…bites.”
Jaws: The Revenge
– “The Roaring Shark we’ll get to in time. However, the vengeance idea we can examine a bit before we even begin looking at the movie. After all, the film’s very title is Jaws: The Revenge. Lest the implications of this moniker somehow prove too subtle for the prospective viewer, there’s the film’s (in)famous tagline: “This Time It’s Personal.” To be fair, this mitigates against any consumer carping on the picture’s vast stupidity. Frankly, if you watch a film with a title like that, you deserve what you get. Short of naming the picture ‘Jaws 4: Electric Boogaloo,’ I’m not sure how much more fair warning they could have provided.”
|“Case sends his crew back into the lake to look for the passage to the sea. They find it, just in time for a huge creature to swim by and maim a local college student who is dragging around a fake monster to impress tourists. The movie then launches into full Jaws mode. The local authorities refuse to close the lake because tourists are coming in, blah blah blah. Apparently the occasional maiming is good for business. Well, the attraction is supposed to be a monster who lives in the lake, so maybe it isn’t that much of a stretch.”|
|The Unknown Movies||Shark Hunter||“It’s not just the characters that are poorly written in Shark Hunter. There are lapses in logic, like how the submarine is launched to do nothing but research and report, but happens to be carrying gigantic harpoons… torpedoes… and fifty-five gallon drums of blood.”|