The retRo pReview Re-viewing of..
by Jeff Finck
The premise: Two fiery young upstarts try to save their island community from a killer shark that no one else in an authoritative position believes in. Kind of like if Harold and Kumar witnessed Neil Patrick Harris brutally murdering bikini clad women, and they then hired James Spader to help them track him down and kill him with a boat. Actually, I would pay to see that. Actually, as it is 1975, I have no idea who any of those people are.
Some silky voiced chap voices, "There is a creature that is alive today that has survived millions of years of evolution." If you guessed Larry King Live (pretty sure that's his entire name), you were very close. Though, I'm pretty sure I've witnessed that guy's go from black and roll over white as he took down a sea lion in open water. The actual answer is, of course, Jaws! The great white hope.. I mean shark. Now this voice over guy describes what will basically be the Terminator, but as it is 1975, I should digress, and we should forget I mentioned anything of the sort lest I be fingered as a witch and have to stand trial by trying to not float and not drown at the same time. The voice-meister does describe an unstoppable killing machine that doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop.. until you are dead. (thank you Michael Biehn)
So we have a sweet underwater, first person swimming experience and hear these ominous words, "It's as if God created the Devil and gave him.. Jaws." Which is an odd statement, because I am pretty sure (for those of you who believe) that God did create the Devil. And if he didn't give him jaws, that would really put a strain on trying to eat. Or perhaps, God created the Devil and gave him Jaws, the shark. Which kind of makes sense, because Jaws is a killer! And if it's one thing that Devil knows, it's.. killing? Maybe. Let's just assume He gave him the shark because that's what this movie is about. The Devil getting a shark named Jaws.. I think. So yeah, I am pretty sure we should change that to, "God DID create the Devil and gave him Jaws. The shark."
Finally clearing that mess up, we get to witness our first victim. A young, nude woman, minding her own business, swimming in the dark, in the middle of the ocean, not a care in the world (yeah, this is a perfect combo for "nothing bad could possibly happen"), when all of a sudden, she jerks down under the water slightly. Apparently the foot grab of doom didn't hurt initially, but then something goes horribly wrong! Whatever it is, keeps dunking her! Which is a dick move, because.. like.. you know.. water keeps getting in her nose and eyes and stuff. And that's just the worst! Coupled with the (as of yet) unknown attacker in the murky depths of the pitch black water, we get epileptic effects of a digital shark playing strobe on the screen and eventually get a pan out to someone playing "Killer Shark", the arcade phenom. A very svelte and very uniformed Roy Scheider (who plays the sheriff of Amity Island, Martin C. Brody), walks by completely oblivious to the dangers that lurk just beneath the surface of his care-free community's water-filled playground. A woman voices her disdain that Sheriff Brody knew of a shark attack and he ignored that particular problem until it swam up and bit him.. oh wait.. too soon. That part hasn't happened yet. He apparently did turn a blind eye, however, which inked this lady's sketchbook right up!
Very ominous interchanging E and F notes tell a foreboding tale, as the camera pans across the patrons of the beach laughing and playing, completely unaware of the pale death that perhaps awaits them all! Well.. most of them. Well.. some of them.. All right, enough of them anyway. Sure enough, some sort of attack happens, leading to an all out riot-fest. We then have some know-it-all who will ignore that particular problem until it swims up and bites him in his ass! (There it is!) In any case, this know-it-all starts downplaying the deadly barracuda (which is both a vicious carnivore AND a delightful song) to Brody, while we get the National Geographic treatment in sharks 101: we get pictures of sharks mugging for the camera, pictures of sharks chewing on air tanks, a bearded Richard Dreyfuss (playing the wiry Matt Hooper) confirming the "Crap Your Pants" nugget of knowledge that most shark attacks happen in less than 3 feet of water, plus a whole team of scientists locked in the jaws of skeletal death. The whole nine meters.. sorry, this is America, I meant yards.
Brody and Hooper confront the know-it-all, Heart hating Mayor, and let him know that they advise a beach-wide shutdown and that they should hire Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint from James Bond's Diamonds are Forever to kill the shark. Unfortunately neither are available, as they're probably busy with some over sized old-timey bomb thing. What we do get is Robert Shaw at his baddest ass-est as Quint, the lovable shark hunter extraordinaire! Before learning anything utterly horrifying from the "just the right amount of confident" Quint, Brody's son is taunting death as only a small child can: defying the wishes of his parents that he not swim in shark-infested waters, teeming with the very sharks that give the word "infested" its demonized counterpart. From the moment Quint says his first word, we are secure in knowing that this is the least terrifying person you want to share a close quarters boat ride with. Quint lets people know, again, in a very calming, non-creepy way, that this shark could swallow men whole. Then they show us someone fall off of a tiny boat and presumably get "swallowed whole." He warned 'em!
We finally get our first glimpse of the infamous man-eater, right after what I am assuming will be one of the most quoted lines in movie history, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." (CLASSIC!) Richard Dreyfuss' Hooper lets all the statisticians out in the audience know that it's a "20 footer", implying that the shark.. OUR shark.. is roughly 20 feet long. That is a relatively big ass shark. Just in case you were all, "eeehhhh, I've seen bigger." I should point out that Quint ruins your day, because he ups the ante and claims that Jaws is now 25 feet long! So suck on those Sour Patch Kids.
Our heroes decide to get a little proactive and "poke the bear." They ride out into Jaws' territory, plug him full of holes, tie barrels to him, shoot him up with rifles and spears, and inevitably will probably get themselves killed. We see our first possible victim, as Hooper gets all tied up as the barrel-laden, hole-filled, rope-towing shark gets smart and crushes Hooper's legs by tying him up against the wall of the bow of the ship. Next, Brody gets all decked in the face by one of the barrels haphazardly flying about the tiny vessel. Then the whole boat starts getting as tipsy as J-Kwon. (Rats.. I mean.. as inebriated as Truman Capote at an all you can drink wine buffet. Yeah, like that. Because it's 1975.. and who the fuck is J-Kwon?) The boat begins to flood and then, just as we are pretty sure that Jaws is winning, they cut away to more panicked beach-goers. One thing is for sure, Quint will win. He's going to show that shark what-for and save the day. I'm sure of it!
A bold claim plays us out to the tune of the very tense E and F note exchange.. "None of man's fantasies of evil.. can compare.. to Jaws." Now as far as horror goes: to date, we've seen Trogs, killer mutant ants, killer spiders, crab monsters, countless werewolves, every kind of vampire (Draculas and Blaculas), mummies, The Blob, The Fly, wasp women, big ass monkeys, The Birds, a bunch of reptiles, a big foot, snake people, 1000 cats, giant rabbits, hundreds of human serial killers, bat people, wicker men, ghosts, ghouls and zombies.. all sorts of stuff. But what worries me the most, is what the damn a Trog is! That aside, Jaws is the only movie that I can think of that makes me so effing afraid of the water, that I don't even want to sit on the toilet. And don't even tell me, "Aw, but there's fresh water in the toilet.. nothing to be afraid of." Well, how about this piece of enlightenment: FRESH WATER SHARKS EXIST!!!! Yeah, you're welcome for blowing your mind. So, does Jaws do it's job of keeping me out of the water, really? Possibly. We'll have to wait and check this menace out for ourselves before passing any water snubbing judgement. I do know one thing, though: I can't wait to cringe in my seat and jump at the inevitable "Gotcha!" scenes! I will go see this.. before I go swimming. Fingers crossed!
Release Date: June 20, 1975