The Horror Honeys: SHARK WEEK REVIEWS: JAWS ~ "Shark! There’s a shark in the pond!"

SHARK WEEK REVIEWS: JAWS ~ "Shark! There’s a shark in the pond!"

A Shark Week Celebration Review by Suzanne

Jaws (1975)

Today starts one of the most anticipated events of the year, Shark Week! Here at The Horror Honeys, we will be celebrating by watching, tweeting and reviewing some of the best and worst shark movies ever made. To kick of the festivities, I have been given the honor of reviewing what is, in my opinion, the best of the best. It also happens to be one of my all-time favorite films of any genre.

In the summer of 1975, America was introduced to a little film which wasn’t expected to do much. Plagued with countless production issues, from the script to a mechanical shark that refused to work, this little film went on to be one of the highest grossing movies of all time and became the first summer blockbuster. That film is Jaws.

As Amity Island prepares for the summer tourists to arrive, a 25 foot great white shark kills several swimmers, which threatens the financial success of the local businesses. Police Chief, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), enlists the help of marine biologist, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and local fisherman, Quint (Robert Shaw), to hunt down and kill the man-eater.

Based on the bestselling novel by Peter Benchley, Jaws seemed destined to fail. Production was supposed to last 55 days, but went an astounding 103 days over. None of the core actors were the first choice of director, Steven Spielberg. Even Spielberg wasn’t the first director hired. In addition, the three mechanical sharks built for the shoot were never tested in salt water so when they attempted to use them, they promptly sank to the bottom of the ocean. 

Fortunately, Spielberg exercised his genius by shooting much of the action from the shark’s point of view. One of the first and only POV execution that actually works. Add the brilliant and haunting score by John Williams and you have a sea-fearing nightmare with no monster needed. When you finally see the shark, you sit up as straight as Brody and back away slowly, asking for a bigger boat. That scene is still as effective now as it was in 1975.

Stories of Shaw’s intoxication and terrorization of Dreyfuss on set are legendary, but the chemistry, no matter how acrimonious, is undeniable. Quint’s monologue of the USS Indianapolis, which was written by Shaw, is captivating and terrifying. While he took some liberties with the historical facts, it doesn’t take away from the brilliance of his performance, which was done in one take.

Do I have something in my teeth?
Roy Schieder and Richard Dreyfuss have a very special “buddy” relationship. They play off one another adding the perfect amount of humor without crossing the line into hokey. Added to this chemistry, the supporting players Lorraine Gary, as Brody’s supportive wife, Ellen, and Murray Hamilton as Amity’s selfish and oblivious Mayor Vaughn, are superb. 

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If you REALLY watch Jaws, you might notice the excessive continuity errors and some of the not so special effects, but the things that work surpass the things that don’t, making this one of the masterpieces of modern cinema. To me, this film is perfect and I’ve watched it more than any other film ever.

My parents took me to see Jaws at a drive-in when I was very young and I remember it quite clearly. The affect on me was immediate. I was unable to swim in our pool for quite some time after and I had a recurring nightmare in which I was in my bed, floating in the water, being circled by a shark. That dream happened off and on for years. While my fear of pools eventually subsided, I still cannot go in any open body of water past my knees. It is a fear I do not consider to be irrational. 

Suzanne's Shark Week Rating: 5 yellow barrels out of 5