We didn’t get much from the 1970’s. Except maybe a lost war, floppy discs, photos of aging naked hippies, and cocaine. But, perhaps humanity’s greatest achievement in the decade was a handful of films that proclaimed to the world that “movies” would redefine the culture of the western world. It was the birth of creativity in film, well before CGI infected Hollywood, destroying every realistic frame in its path. Movies were shot on location, instead of in front of a green screen. Monsters had to be created instead of drawn on a laptop. Their movements were slow and calculated, but more effective because they REALLY happened. One of these films is arguably the greatest horror movie ever made.
Jaws was released in June of 1975. The movie, which was given a budget of 8 million dollars, cleared over 7 million the opening weekend, cementing this film as the first official summer blockbuster.
Relax lady, I said I’m a Doctor
The movie opens with an unforgettable scene that offers multiple peekaboo’s of a late night skinny dip. Since first witnessing this scene, I still haven’t been on a beach past nipple deep water. It violently reaffirms that we are NOT the top of the food chain in the ocean.
The story then focuses on its main character Police Chief Martin Brody (played by Roy Scheider). He’s a New Yorker who moved his family to AmityIslandin search of a better life. The audience relates to Brody because he is a “normal” guy. He acts as the audience would if given the situation. The situation being that the beachfront community is being terrorized by a giant man eating great white shark. Brody then enlists the help of a shark nerd, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and a lovable old crab, Quint (Robert Shaw). The three eventually head out to sea to kill the shark.
The “horror” from this movie is not through cheap jumps and scream tactics. In fact, you never even see the shark for half the movie. Fear is achieved by keeping the camera at sea level, giving the audience a feel that they are in the water. By doing so, every time we are swimming thereafter, the thought of a shark creeps into the back of our head. The lingering fear is directly related to water, whether it’s the ocean, a pool or a toilet.
The extremely rare turdburgler shark
“Here’s to swimming with bowl legged women.”
Although this movie was based off the book by Peter Benchley, it was the unproven young director, Steven Spielberg (director of just about every movie you ever loved) who made this movie what it was.
Little known fact: Spielberg had Benchley kicked off the set while filming because of his hostility towards changing the ending for the film version. Spielberg also cut an entire plotline of a love affair between Hooper and Mrs. Brody, which also had no place in the story. We want to watch a shark eat people, not marital drama (that’s like eating a salad at McDonald’s).
The other must mention element of this film is the score by Spielberg’s go-to guy, John Williams (Jurassic Park, ET, Indiana Jones, and everything else) Without the two-note tension, the suspense just wouldn’t reach the level it does. Also a fact, EVERYONE inAmerica has at one point in our lives sat at a piano and tried to play the Jaws theme, usually after you just banged out Doh A Deer flawless for 15 seconds, and now think you’re Beethoven.
I hate to even mention the horrible sequels and frustrating video games from our childhood that exist solely as a result from the success of this movie. But this movie seemed to be one of the first studio decided “sequel worthy” films. Albeit they sucked, and were progressively more disappointing (culminating in the shark following Ellen Brody’s plane to the Bahamasto try and eat her there), it was still exciting to hear another Jaws movie was coming out.
No one will ever beat this game
I’m sure everyone already saw this movie, but just as Christmas Vacation can be watched every December; this can be watched every June.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever the theme song plays
Take a Drink: whenever you see a Dorsal fin
Take a Drink: whenever the “little Kitner boy” is referenced
Take a Drink: whenever you hear an annoying New England Accent
Drink a Shot: whenever you see Quint’s mysterious mute “slave”
Drink a Shot: whenever someone in the movie takes a drink