Whole books have been written about this essential film that still stands up to repeated viewings all these years later. While the killer great white shark provides the thrills that kept people out of the water, the heart of the film remains the uneasy alliance between the three shark hunters: reluctant participant Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider), ocean researcher Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and crusty old fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw).
Also of note of course is John William's effective score which includes one of the most recognizable themes in film history. The movie has also been the subject of numerous documentaries including The Making Of Jaws (2000), "E! Hollywood True Stories: Jaws (2003) and the recent The Shark Is Still Working , all worthwhile.
SRF = 5
MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH (1976)
Richard Jaeckel plays an ex-Viet Nam vet who can communicate with sharks. When he finds out the sharks are being exploited by a local businessman, he sends his "friends" out for revenge. All sharks are real, no special effects.
The DVD has an extra five minutes of footage than the original VHS release.
SRF = 9
SHARK KILL (1976)
This made-for-TV movie was put together quickly to capitalize on the public's renewed interest in sharks after the theatrical success of Jaws . Two guys set off to hunt a great white that killed a diver. When their boat is accidentally destroyed they're stranded in the water predating Open Water by almost thirty years!
Not bad for a little TV thriller but not much happens really.
SRF = 1
Mexican exploitation director Rene Cardona Jr gets into the post-Jaws biz with Tintorera...Tiger Shark (also known as Tintorera...Bloody Waters ). Two men take a break from romancing various women to go after a ravenous tiger shark that has been terrorizing the beaches. Stars Hugo Stiglizt who also appears in Cardona's Survive! (1977) and Guyana: Cult Of The Damned (1980).
The 25th anniversary edition DVD (now titled Tintorera...Killer Shark ) has an extra 41 (!) minutes of scenes not on the 89 minute VHS release.
All the sharks seen are real as is the gruesome footage of the sharks being killed.
SRF = 4
JAWS 2 (1978)
The massive success of Spielberg's original (first film to break the $100 million mark in North America alone) led to this mandatory sequel and a boat load of merchandising opportunities. Scheider reluctantly returns as Police Chief Martin Brody battling another ferocious great white who has turned up at Amnity Beach, concentrating on a group of sailing teenagers including Brody's two sons Mike and Sean.
Jaws 2 is especially notable for the scene where the killer shark devours a helicopter attempting to rescue the stranded youths.
Coined the famous tag-line "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water". Both Steven Spielberg and Richard Dreyfuss declined to participate. Marvel Comics published a magazine sized adaptation.
SRF = 7
THE LAST SHARK (1980)
The most notorious of all the Jaws inspired films, The Last Shark (aka The Great White and L'Ultimo Squalo) is an Italian production that openly steals from Spielberg's original. Directed by Enzo Castelari, The Last Shark features James Franciscus (Beneath The Planet Of The Apes) in Roy Scheider's place and Vic Morrow (with a Scottish accent) as a stand in for Robert Shaw's Quint character.
This low budget effort even includes a shark vs helicopter scene as previously seen in Jaws 2 . Universal Pictures successfully sued for copyright infringement ensuring The Last Shark would never be shown theatrically or appear on home video in North America.
I own two different versions, God help me.
SRF = 7
JAWS 3 (1983)
Years after the events of Jaws 2 Sheriff Martin Brody's now grown sons Mike and Sean deal with a giant great white shark that has invaded the Florida water park where Mike works. The scene of a shark very slowly smashing into an underwater lab's large observation window must be seen to be believed it's so phony (Deep Blue Sea would have greater success with this idea 16 years later).
Although the DVD version does not have the extra effect, Jaws 3 was actually originally released theatrically as Jaws 3D which I saw in the summer of '83. The crappy 3D effects didn't do much for me then either.
The bubblegum card set issued that summer also incorporated a 3D element.
SRF = 5
JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987)
Ignores the third film entirely (can't blame 'em for that) and picks up with Sean Brody working for the Amnity Police force like his now deceased father did in Jaws and Jaws 2 . After he is killed by a great white (at Christmas!) his mourning mother Ellen Brody goes to the Bahamas to grieve with her eldest son Mike.
The shark follows her.
To the Bahamas.
Brody is convinced that this animal has a personal vendetta towards her family even though Jaws and Jaws 2 featured different sharks.
Ellen also has flashback memories to events from the first film that she did not personally witness.
The tagline for this film was the immortal "This time...it's personal".
SRF = 2
MISSION OF THE SHARK (1991)
This one takes it's inspiration from Jaws a bit differently. It tells the story of the U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS which was torpedoed by the Japanese during World War II after delivering top secret components to be used for the bomb that levelled Pearl Harbor. The ship held 1,196 men, 300 of which went right down with the wreckage leaving 880 men stranded in shark infested waters. Because the mission was so classified, documentation on when it left and arrived at various ports were not recorded which resulted that the Navy was unaware that the Indianapolis had not returned on schedule. For five days the men battled weather, injuries and curious sharks. Of that 880 men only 317 survived.
In Jaws Robert Shaw's Quint character tells the gripping story (which Shaw himself wrote) and reveals that he himself is a survivor of the horrible ordeal. The made-for-TV movie shows what the men went through out there but also tells of the ship's captain who faced a court martial as part of the military cover-up of the operation.
The film is a nice footnote to Jaws but the shark fin that often glides by the helpless men is pretty fake looking.
SRF = 6 on screen
CRUEL JAWS (1995)
This one steals scenes and dialogue from Jaws , Jaws 2 and even Jaws 3 plus for some unknown reason actual footage stolen from The Last Shark !
Directed by the notorious Bruno Mattei (Zombi 3 , Hell Of The Living Dead which I kinda like...) . Not only does Cruel Jaws (aka Jaws 5 just to add insult to injury) have a shark vs helicopter scene, which The Last Shark already stole from Jaws 2 , Mattei actually has the nerve to have a character deliver the line "we're gonna need a bigger helicopter".
There is an entertainment factor to Cruel Jaws but likely not how the filmmakers intended.
Did I mention that at some points in the film the score uses the music from Star Wars ?
Has to be seen to be believed, amazing in its audacity.
SRF = 14