These Movies Re-tellings are M15+ | You could get offended, there will be spoilers throughout and I may not fact check
Reviewed: Sept 2020 - Foxtel Movie Greats
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
I chose Jaws as my first movie re-telling because everyone knows the film - it's iconic - and I wanted a familiar movie to start me off. It also helps that it would piss #1 hubby off!! Jaws is one of his favourite movies, with Quint his favourite character. I knew that voicing my strong opinions - completely opposite to his - would get that lively debate I'm hoping this piece will invoke. I hope you'll let me know what you think - drop me a line - and if you like, share it with your friends!! Enjoy!
The iconic Jaws theme... instantly recognisable. I doubt there would be many among us who haven't at one time or other thrown those two notes together to warn a target of impending doom. In the pool, the ocean, the bath-tub... watch out for any hand-shaped fin. BOOM!
I watched Jaws again the other day, almost 45yrs after it was originally released. Back then, I saw it at my local cinema and it scared the absolute crap out of me - that shark was fucking awesome!! Gave me nightmares for months… and months! Jaws is not a movie for a young child. Or someone who hates blood and gore. Or if you hate getting scared.
Seriously people, it's a bloodyhorror movie!
The movie opens with a beach party around a bonfire, with plenty of drunk and/or high youths making poor decisions. A beautiful young woman entices a really drunk and/or high bimboy to go skinny dipping with her. And whilst she's getting pulled under-water... whilst she's being violently mauled and is screaming in agony... whilst she is being heaved from side to side in the jaws of a man-eater... the bimboy is lying on the beach... unable to remove his pants... drunk - and let's face it stoned off his face - for the 45secs it takes for this young woman to get ripped apart.
Ok Spielberg,you have my attention. Welcome to Jaws people.
The movie is set in the resort town of Amity in the days leading up to 4th of July celebrations, which mark the official opening of the summer tourist season - we're talking big bucks that have to last all year. Having a shark victim is going to fuck that up... big time.
Jaws revolves around our three main characters: the towns new Police Chief - Rob Scheider; a little dude from the Oceanic Institute - Richard Dreyfuss; and the weird fisherman Quint - Robert Shaw. None of the other characters matter. I mean there's the chief's wife and their kids, and some townspeople - my friend Linda was probably an extra on set there.
Having a new Police Chief sets the character up to have a number of run-ins with the powers-that-be. You know the type - morons who bully and threaten others, just because they can. In this case, it's the Mayor. And he's doing everything he can to make sure nothing spoils his picture-perfect towns opening day. Closing the beaches for any reason - least of all for a shark attack - would be suicidal for the town's economy.
Pssst... Hey Coroner - that girl died from a boat propeller, didn't she? Shark attack? Piss off! Trust meee... I'm the Mayor!
And so, while the wanker's bicker about whether the beach should be closed…
A little boy on a blow-up bed gets fucked up. Quietly. Permanently. Amid a bunch of splashing swimmers.
Nothing quite like a dead child to get people's attention - and drum up a $3000 bounty for fish-of-the-day! The townsfolk have a chat and decide to employ extra deputies - because that'll keep the sharks away... and use shark spotters on the beaches - because that'll keep the sharks away (yes I know they'll give you warning but I'm trying to make a point here)... and close the beaches for 24hrs - because that'll keep the sharks away. The fuckers thought that 24hrs was a tad too long!
This is where we're introduced to Quint, the really weird fisherman who reckons he can catch that fish, quickly, all by himself for $10,000 - bugger the $3,000 on offer. What a fuckwit. (#1 hubby is pissed off I've called him that!)
And so, the beaches are closed.
At this point nobody really knows how big the bloody shark actually is...
Killed two people so far
But no-one has actually sized it up. How about we throw in a couple of old farts who think - 'Hell yeah! Let's hook us a shark with the missus's roast! Here's a big-ass hook - tie it to the jetty with a chain. No worries!'
If you check google maps, you'll see that the jetty is no longer there.
So, with the towns blessing - and looking like a Trump campaign flotilla - seriously deluded fishermen head out to sea, overloaded, with their eskies full of beer, running into each other as they chum the water. Call the Coast Guard now!
It's about time Richard Dreyfuss turns up - a serious little dude with a lot of equipment, a lot of knowledge and no real-life skills. Let's go see some human remains shall we. Our oceanic expert has definitively decreed a shark attack! What dickhead would think this was caused by a propellor? The Coroner standing right behind you Richard Dreyfuss!
Q a dead shark. Or is that 'Queue' a dead shark. 'Cue' a dead shark? OMG, I have absolutely no idea whether it's q, queue or cue... I'm tending towards cue - feel free to drop me a line and let me know!
Let's try this: The next thing we see is the bloodied mouth of a dead shark that the floating flotilla somehow managed to bring back to shore. Pictures are taken, the town rejoices!! Richard Dreyfuss - crap, what is his character's name? - does not rejoice. The shark is too small.
Now, I will concede that Jaws has one or two moments that can bring a slight tear to even this hard-ass and that is when a grieving mother slaps the Chief's face in front of everyone on the dock.
"I just found out that a girl got killed here last week... and you knew it! You knew there was a shark out there... (sobs) ... you knew it was dangerous. But you let people go swimming anyway... (sobs)... You knew all those things... but still my boy is dead now. And there's nothing you can do about it... my boy is dead..."
So, the Chief and Dreyfuss have a grog, do some bonding and decide that the only way to be sure if the fishermen have caught the man-eater is to gut it and see if a small child falls out. It would seem our shark likes nothing better than tuna milkshakes and licence plates - our intrepid heroes have indeed proved that they have the wrong shark!! Now, most people would go home and regroup the next morning. But not these fuckers. Let's head out to sea... at night... with a man - the Chief - who is afraid of water. Just how drunk was he?
To mix things up a bit, Spielberg puts one of the overloaded, but now empty boats in the path of our fearless heroes, and like all good thrillers our heroes, inexplicably, put themselves in harm's way. Why the hell would you go into the water, at night, around an abandoned and half-sunk boat, in an area that you believe to be a killer-sharks feeding ground? OMFG!
Do I have to tell you what comes next?!!
If you think that a shark the size of a bloody shithouse bites Dreyfuss on the arse you would be wrong!! Instead, the prop department have done an outstanding job in putting together a severed head - with one eye missing - that POPs! out of the hole in the bottom of the half-sunk boat. And I might add, with no warning. No dun-dan-dun-dan. Just a screeeech! Reminded me of the shower scene in Psycho. Wryahh-wryahh-wryahh. Ha! Should have heard Dreyfuss scream!!
The Chief and Dreyfuss try to convince the Mayor that the shark is still out there. And the Mayor, being the dickwad that he is, chooses to believe that the shark has been caught. So, the tourists come and the beaches remain open. It's a smorgasbord!
Pssst.... Hey friend - why don't you take your three grandchildren into the water… it's totally safe. Trust meee... I'm the Mayor!
I wonder how many politicians base their political acumen on this Mayor…?
**Edit: Ah - sorry, my cousin Paul won't know what acumen means. It means judgement, wisdom, expertise, sharpness. There you go Paul. **
Ok we have spotters. We have helicopters. What could go wrong? It's a thriller people! Spielberg has got some real suspense going on here. You've got:
The Chief's 3yr old son running after his brother - hang on, who the fuck is looking after this kid?? His mother is too busy waving at the Chief, and this kid is running flat-out towards a road, and an open body of water. Where's the number for Child Protection?
Throngs of people splashing and shouting in shallow water - the only thing that attracts sharks more would be blood
Plenty of underwater shots of people treading water - tell me you didn't think that was the shark, checking out some tasty drum-legs!
And then the shark fin - first we see it from the spotters boat, and then through the eyes of a horrified swimmer
A misdirection to be sure, but a wonderful observation in humanity at its best - a stampeding horde will always trample those who are in their way; an idiots guide to hazard management - whistles and blow-horns and shouting 'shark' caused the stampede; and how NOT to pull a stunt - two idiot kids strapping a fin on their backs on a heavily patrolled beach.
So, let's put that shark somewhere they won't be looking! Right where the Chief's son is boating. And some poor tosser who never even got his name mentioned in the credits, cops it in 'the pond', his bloodied leg falling to the ocean floor.
For the first time the Chief steps up and demands the Mayor authorises the charter of Quint's boat to go and hunt the shark.
Summer is over. What a complete clusterfuck!
We've been waiting all movie for Quint to show up again. Plenty of shark jaws/teeth hanging all over his boatshed prove that Quint is indeed an expert in shark hunting. And so, our three heroes load-up the boat - the Orca - and off they go. Quint drinking grog and singing crude little ditties; Dreyfuss playing with his high-tech gadgets - we take note that the compressed air tanks can explode, a critical piece of info; and the Chief chumming the water. And when the shark takes the bait - the battle between our heroes and the shark begins.
The shark has thrown down. It's showing just how smart it is - it's diving under the boat, circling the boat, chasing the boat. And just when our clueless band of shark hunters think they just might have the shark - the line breaks. CRAP!
Let's reset. The Chief starts to chum the waters again. I can tell you that as a child, in a dark quiet theatre, the moment that shark silently swims up to the boat, within biting distance of a clueless Chief, I was terrified!
WATCH OUT BEHIND YOU CHIEF!!
"You're going to need a bigger boat."
Indeed Chief. Indeed.
Fun Fact: Rob Scheider ad libbed the famous catch-cry "You're going to need a bigger boat". He went on to say it a further 2 times. Or 3 times. Yeah, I stopped counting. My bad.
In the equivalent of a shark swim-by we find out the fucker is 20 to 25ft long - that's about 7m's - and weighs about 3T. Dainty. And as Quint calmly gets his spear-gun ready, Dreyfuss is anxiously trying to get a photo and the Chief is frantically running around like a headless chook. With the shark speared, and a barrel attached - with GPS tracking - the Orca searches for their fish. The Chief keeps asking for a bigger boat!
Another one of those sombre moments here readers... our heroes are having some food and grog, comparing scars and tattoos... when Quint regales his fellow fishermen with the harrowing tale of USS Indianapolis - the ship he was on in WW2 that was bombed by the Japanese having just delivered the Hiroshima bomb to the island of Titian - a secret mission - so noone knew where they were or when they were due home. 1100 men went into the water and within 30mins, sharks started to pick them off one by one. Nearly 800 men died.
"…Sometimes that shark looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark he's got… lifeless eyes… black eyes like a doll's eyes. When he comes at you he doesn't seem to be living… until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screaming, and the ocean turns red and in spite of all the pounding and the hollering they all come in… and rip ya to pieces."
Let's do a quick recap:
We know how big the shark is - 7 metres long and weighing 3 tonnes
We know how strong the shark is - it's capable of destroying piers and sinking boats
We know how smart the shark is - it dives under the boat and does swim-by's to size-up it's hunters
We're about to find out what makes Jaws a LEGEND! It head-butts the boat for fucks sake!!
It's daylight. The boat has been wounded, but is limping along. And then... the barrel pops up - it's no longer attached. As Quint and Dreyfuss reach out over the water to drag the barrel back in, it takes every ounce of strength for me to not reach into the telly and slap the stupid out of them! Of course the shark is right there - haven't we just established that it's a smart motherfucker? It nearly takes off one of Quints hands.
Inexplicably, as the Chief radio's for help, Quint smashes the radio to bits. What.The.Actual.Fuck??!!!!
The shark has had enough of our intrepid hunters. The chase is on! Quint spears the shark with one and then two barrels, and the shark keeps defying the laws of fishing. Quint has never seen a shark that can dive with two barrels hooked to it.
I love it when an expert claims - 'but it's impossible'. In this instance, Quint is crying out '... but it's impossible..." as a shark that has been speared and now has three barrels attached to it, is now towing the boat backwards, with water flooding in, and the cleats holding the barrels to the boat, breaking off.
The shark is winning you morons!
And the Chief keeps asking for a bigger boat!!
Quint thinks - fuck it - I'm going to ignore the thick, black smoke billowing out of my engine bay… I'm going to ignore the water that my ship is taking on… I'm going to ignore any and all help from my fellow fishermen. Let's draw this shark in to land as fast as I can, with a monster shark chasing us. Until the engine literally explodes. And you're paying this dickhead $10,000 bucks?
Could it be that the blustering Quint is actually SCARED???
Ok, so let's change tack and put a tiny little man, into a flimsy little shark cage, with a big-ass spear/sedative thingy and, in what can only be described as a brain-dead move - hold that spear/sedative thingy on the outside of the cage so that when the shark hits the cage - oh and it will hit the cage - the spear/sedative thingy falls to the ocean floor straight off. Smart.
… see that grey thing swimming towards you Dreyfuss? I'm sorry but the sound of Dreyfuss's high-pitched underwater screams are just priceless! Did you really think that flimsy little structure was going to keep you safe you insane little man? Seeing that behemoth of a shark break open that shark cage was AWESOME!!!
Dreyfuss is out of the fight.
But the shark isn't done - it's destroyed the shark cage, and now it's time to get rid of this pissy little boat that's been fucking it over all day. Get ready to see this shark in all its glory!!
And look, whilst Quint is one seriously deranged fuckwit, his whole life has been driven by the horror he endured during the war. And being eaten - slowly - bit-by-bit by a great white shark is the cruellest, most tortuous way for him to die.
Well played Steven Spielberg… well played.
In the end it's the Chief who kills the shark - a man who hates the water and wants a bigger boat. With the boat sinking and a bottle of compressed air in the mouth of the beast, the Chief takes one shot. Two shots. Three, four, five shots and he blows that shark to pieces - it was bloody awesome!! There were chunks going everywhere!!!
"Smile you son of a bitch!"
Chief. Mate. You call that a catch-cry! Die Hard would like to say "Yippee-ki-yay motherfucker!!" Now that's a catchcry!
The beauty of Jaws, and the problem with Jaws is with the shark. In the digital age, this shark looks clunky, especially the out-of-water scenes. Jaws no longer scares me - these days horror movies tend to make me laugh! But for all the things I find funny with this film, #1 hubby reminds me why fans of Jaws have always found it - still find it - terrifying. Why an entire generation was scared to enter the water.
It's in the frantic, bloodcurdling screams of a young woman as she gets viciously ripped apart; it's as a young boy on a blow-up bed gets snatched, quietly, in front of a crowded beach; it's when a shark head-butts and destroys a fishing boat; it's the moment a monster-sized shark breaks into a shark cage; it's the heart-breaking and all-too-slow moment when Quint is eaten by the shark.