Jaws: The Revenge

Jaws: The Revenge

 

 

Jaws: The Revenge

1987. Directed by Joseph Sargent.  

Considered one of the worst films ever made, Jaws: The Revenge is a ridiculous triumph in B Movie film making that is both a completely preposterous entry in a legendary franchise and a "so bad its good" supernatural man vs. nature horror film that was sadly labelled as part of said franchise.

A police officer is killed off the coast of a small New England town by a flesh eating shark.  His mother, Ellen, believes that the shark is the embodiment of a curse that has plagued her family for decades, which began when her husband personally killed a great white shark that was terrorizing the same town years prior.  She flees to the Bahamas to warn her other son who is a marine biologist.  The shark pursues, forcing Ellen to confront her fears and face the beast one on one.  

Lorraine Gary delivers a stock melodramatic turn as Ellen.  Taking a page out of the James Cameron playbook, Ellen is deeply haunted by the monsters of her past, but always summons the appropriate amount of bad ass when required.  While she begins as reckless and scared, her instant transformation into fearless shark killer is a paint by numbers affair that Gary has little time to explore.  She's supported by Mario Van Peeples, Lance Guest, and the great Michael Caine, who delivers a fun turn as a Caribbean pilot who captures Ellen's heart.  One of the few things that this film does well is portray a relationship between two older characters as if they were in the throws of puberty.  Very rarely does a horror film bother with courtship and even rarer is its focus on a more mature coupling.  

Michael de Guzman's script is beautiful train wreck.  The shark in this film has a psychic connection to Ellen that comes alive anytime she touches the water.   The creature's mythical qualities, such as roaring underwater and swimming over a thousand miles in a few days enhances the late night double feature mystique, a sad reminder that this was a film that could have been so much more had it been handled differently.  The fact that the shark is almost demonic hearkens back to Peter Benchley's novel upon which the original film was based.  Despite the awful presentation, this film handles the original concept of man versus an avatar of nature's revenge more faithfully than any of the films that preceded it.  

John McPherson's cinematography is reliable and rich , capturing the ardor of the Bahamas and the perils of the depths with remarkably natural detail.  Henry Millar's special effects are the weak sister, with this incarnation of the toothed terror presented as a throwback to 50's matinee creature features, which climaxes in the film's barely stressful chase scene.  The gigantic shark somehow manages to navigate the maze like interior of a sunken ship while chasing Ellen's son, and yet that's not the most outlandish thing that occurs. 

Michael Small's score combines with John Stacy's sound editing to savage John Williams's iconic theme with a chime effect that hearkens the monster's approach.  The sound editing during the underwater sequences (despite the roar) is decent, delivering solid tension that deflates whenever the shark is revealed.  

Available now on Netflix, Jaws: The Revenge is unadulterated trash cinema at its finest.  Michael Caine missed accepting an Oscar to complete his work, while the film garnered several Razzie nominations, with Millar's effects winning the Golden Raspberry.  The film has two different endings, the second of which is so illogically conceived that it serves as the perfect capstone on an opera of absurdity.  The summation of this film's barely adequate parts is a fun and forgettable experience that demands MST3K treatment.  If you're looking for the ultimate experience in bad movie euphoria, this is the film for you.  

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