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Jaws: The Revenge

tn_jaws4BrucethesharkiconLet’s say you’re a huge great white shark. I mean, just enormous. You’re gonna need to eat, right? Sometimes you can eat orcas, but you try to avoid those because sometimes they’ll eat you back. And little tiny fish won’t do it. A guy your size, it’s hard to find a meal that’s filling.

So you come across this nice little joint called Amity Island. Wide open, not much competition from other sharks or orcas. (There was one smaller shark, but some people killed it, mistaking it for you. Suckers!) So it’s a good set up. Just little pink morsels wiggling around, as far as the eye can see. Which is not that far actually, because sharks don’t have very good vision. But they do have a weird thing where they can sense the electromagnetic pulse of even a heartbeat. And these heartbeats feel delicious.

Unfortunately, there are consequences to eating this “hot lunch.” You eat one or two people, all the other people get pissed off and come after you. They stick an air tank in your mouth and shoot at it until you explode. Or they trick you into biting a power cable. Or they put a grenade in your mouth and blow you up in 3-D and it’s ironic because they call you “Jaws” and then your jaws are about all that remains intact when you explode into a bunch of blood and guts. People really know how to keep a big shark down.

Well this is the story of one courageous shark who got fed up with being blown up, and he took a stand.

mp_jaws4To be honest I’m not sure who this shark is. It seems like it’s supposed to be the one from JAWS, but everybody knows the one from JAWS got blown to bits. This movie seems to take place in an alternate timeline not related to the other JAWS movies. Lorraine Gary is still Ellen Brody, but Lance Guest (THE LAST STARFIGHTER) plays Michael instead of Dennis Quaid, and he’s a marine biologist studying snails in the Bahamas instead of an engineer building a water park in Venezuela. Sean (Mitchell Anderson) is no longer trying to get away from the island, he’s actually a sheriff’s deputy there now. Chief Brody is dead, but his portrait hangs on the wall at the department, so he must not have gotten fired like in JAWS 2. Or he did and then they forgave him.

I can’t explain any of these changes, but I kind of like them. They keep you on your toes. This whole movie has a very strange dream-like feel. This JAWS feels more like a horror movie than the other JAWSes. It’s got a nice sort of surreal, paranoid, not-sure-what-is-reality type of feel.

I know, I know, you’re not supposed to say anything nice or neutral about JAWS: THE REVENGE. I looked it up, and it turns out everybody says it’s the worst. In the comments for the other JAWSes several of you declared it a “worthless piece of shit,” even “one of the worst movies of all time.” When I told friends I was watching the JAWS sequels at least one said, “Uh oh! Part 4 is terrible!” The stupid Razzies nominated it for worst picture (it lucked out ’cause it was up against LEONARD PART 6). Entertainment Weekly had it at #10 of the worst sequels of all time, just five above BATMAN AND ROBIN. It has a 00% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I never could figure out how to log in on there so I can’t change that. And I remember this comedian (Richard Jeni it turns out) had a popular routine that was just him talking about the movie and complaining about how dumb it was.

When a child grows up being told he’s worthless, he starts to believe it. But when a moviegoer hears about a movie sucking for decades before seeing it it lowers his expectations. And then he sees it and he thinks actually, fuck it. I know this is absurd, but I can go along with it. In fact I kind of like it. I don’t think people are being fair to this movie. The poor little guy. Why are they picking on him?

This time Ellen Brody is the main character. (Unless you consider the shark the main character.) It’s Christmas time and Sean Brody is doing some petty deputy duties where he has to go out in a boat to check on some garbage in the water. Out of the blue he gets his arm bit off by a giant shark and bleeds to death. (PSYCHO-type spoiler.) I really fell for that one, I didn’t see that one coming and it’s a real brutal death scene.

Ellen realizes how unlikely it is that her husband was attacked by a giant shark all those years ago, and then he and both her kids were attacked again in part 2, and I guess we’ll ignore part 3 (because that’s on a 3-D timeline separate from the 2-D one) but now her other son gets killed by a shark… she knows this doesn’t make any sense, and that’s why she comes to the conclusion that, as the trailer narrator says, This Time It’s Personal. This fucking shark has picked out the Brodys and he’s stalking them, picking them off one by one. He has a vendetta. Or maybe just real refined tastebuds. Maybe Brodys are delicious. Either way, he’s singling them out.

Or that’s how she feels, anyway, but obviously everybody else thinks she’s crazy, or too stressed out from her son’s death. She tries to convince her other son Michael not to work in the water anymore. But he explains why this is ridiculous and convinces her to come stay with his family in Nassau for a while. Get away from the memories, play with her little granddaughter. So she does. And, uh, the shark shows up.

That seems to be the main sticking point, that’s why everybody else in the world besides me is not open to this movie. They can’t get past the leap of logic that this shark is gonna follow the Brody family to the Bahamas no matter how tender and succulent their meat is. I get it. If you can’t go along with that you can’t go along with that. But let’s be fair here. It’s not like this is some ridiculous thing that the movie is trying to sneak past us and hope we don’t notice. It’s not a “plot hole.” No, the movie points it out, emphasizes it. Michael tells Ellen that a great white shark has never been where he lives before, because the water is too warm. Then when the shark does show up his partner Mario Van Peebles points out the same thing.

All I’m saying is let’s acknowledge that the movie knows this is far-fetched, knows that we know it’s far-fetched, and in fact is using that as its way to try to scare us. It’s no longer just the shark itself that’s supposed to be scary, it’s the impossibility of the shark trying to get The Revenge, and going this far to do it. Impossible, but happening. It’s the same as when Charles Bronson shows up unexpectedly to confront creeps in DEATH WISH 2. They’re not just scared because a stranger is in their home. They’re scared because oh shit, it’s the guy. That’s why JAWS: THE REVENGE pays so much loving attention to the widening eyes of the Brodys as they see the shark and contemplate the significance of it being there.

Ellen: Holy shit, this shark killed my husband and my son and my other son is next if I don’t do something about it!

Michael: Holy shit, are you telling me Mom was actually right about that shark?!

So exactly as Ellen lets go of her paranoid idea and apologizes for being such a pain in the ass her son is actually realizing that she was right.

One thing that would make it more fun would be if you got to see more of the shark’s perspective on this, why he feels that This Time It’s Personal, why he wants The Revenge. It could be a shark’s version of DEATH WISH or THE EXECUTIONER, complete with a scene where a radio call-in show has different sharks giving pro and con opinions about the vigilante shark. But since it’s unclear which shark this is it’s hard to figure out what he’s got his fin up his ass over. What we do know is that Martin Brody died of a heart attack, but Ellen blames this specific shark for scaring him to death. Does this mean Brody actually died after the incident in JAWS, and the shark didn’t actually blow up? Or was there another shark later on that scared him to death, perhaps a relative or war buddy of Jaws #1? (They’re real close, they go all the way back to the USS Indianapolis.) Or did he really blow up the shark but then somehow it kept haunting him, a ghostly or undead shark, and that’s why it scared him so bad and why Ellen is so convinced that the family is marked for death?

I don’t know but there are definite hints of something supernatural going on. Elaine seems to have a psychic connection with the shark. At one point a wave laps against her foot on the beach and she senses the shark. She just needs to make physical contact with the body of water the shark is in to be able to zero in on its location. A big point is made about how big the ocean is and how unlikely it is she’ll run into the shark when she goes out on a boat, but of course they’ll find each other like Luke and Darth Vader. When she sees the shark from a boat, she takes her sunglasses off, as if she has to make eye contact to communicate with it. (Or maybe she just wants to look her boy’s killer in the eye.)

There’s also a sense of predestination, same as in (the admittedly much better movie) ORCA. Ellen is even less of a shark hunter than her late husband, but she feels that her and the shark are destined to do battle, and the more she runs the more trouble it causes. So when there’s a shark attack on a crowded beach (almost getting her granddaughter) she without hesitation, without telling anybody, speed walks to her son’s boat and single-handedly sails it out into the ocean to look for the man-eating bastard. It’s like that turning point I love so much in HALLOWEEN: H20 where Laurie has the realization that she can run all her life or she can go back and get this shit squared away, and she chooses the latter.

And check out how this alternate poster makes you question whether maybe the shark is not the one getting the revenge, or taking it personal. Maybe it’s Ellen:
Unfortunately, it’s not at all as badass as the painting indicates. And like Ellen Brody before me you’re all gonna think I’m a lunatic for saying this, but I think this is where the movie finally blows it. This should be the culmination of Ellen’s journey. She was right, the shark was after her. It killed her husband (?), it killed her son, it tried to kill her other son and her granddaughter. She tried keeping her family away from the water, but she couldn’t do it, and the shark found them. So now she must take on the responsibility as the matriarch of the family to put this fucker down. She goes out into the water herself and rams a boat up the motherfucker’s ass and lets him bleed to death. And the original ending they shot had the shark’s death throes tearing the boat apart, which is very fitting. They nearly take each other out.

But the way it unfolds in the movie it’s not really Ellen vs. shark. Hoagie (Michael Caine) shows up and lands his sea plane, he and Michael and Van Peebles hop aboard and they use their scientific know-how to try to defeat the shark. She gets to grieve some more (the shark eats the damn plane, momentarily making them think Hoagie is dead) but they totally steal her thunder. This should be her final stand. Instead it’s her acting crazy and her son stops her and takes over.

But more importantly they just fucked up when they were filming the ending. The first ending they shot was a better idea but, uh, I think you can see why they decided not to use it. Here it is, taken from the TV version:


They weren’t happy with that so instead of using the laughably fake looking shot of the shark they cut it together incomprehensibly. As she tries to ram the shark it’s intercutting with the end of JAWS (so he did blow up the shark after all, didn’t he?). I didn’t notice any explanation for why the shark would explode, so at first I thought it only exploded in her memory of part 1 and not in the present. But then all the sudden everybody’s safe, even Van Peebles who got bitten in half. I had to rewind it in order to sort of understand what happened, but the results weren’t entirely conclusive.

(By the way, for the most part Bruce the fake shark is used great in this movie. I think he looks really cool. I like that you see him so much. But obviously that original ending there didn’t work, they needed to figure out some other way to do that.)

I know everybody was excited to see me rip this one a new gill, but I look at all these criticisms and I can’t help but think that people are being unfair to it. Yeah, okay, it’s preposterous, but it’s not as constantly inept as I keep reading it is. Until that crappy ending it’s well shot, well put together, dramatically paced. It treats its plot and characters seriously. And it’s very against the grain for 1980s horror sequels. It has a rare romance between older folks. None of the FRIDAY THE 13TH or HALLOWEEN sequels had the balls to put a 50 year old widow in the lead. The only sex in the movie is an off-screen romantic encounter between a married couple. The body count is low (isn’t it just one?) but upsetting when it happens. The granddaughter is a good kid performance, precocious but naturalistic like (hey, wait a minute) a Spielberg movie. The acting and dialogue are better than expected in this type of thing. So it’s not TROLL 2, let’s not exaggerate.

Reading about the movie I’ve seen alot of people mention Michael Caine coming out of the water and then immediately being dry. Yeah, I noticed that too. But I notice that all the time in movies, people coming out of a lake or a rain storm and then all the sudden they’re totally dry. It happens in plenty of movies without anybody saying it makes them the worst of all time.

I remembered that Richard Jeni comedy routine so I looked it up, couldn’t find it on youtube but found a transcript.  Always seemed like a cheat to me to just describe a movie plot and call that comedy, but it was more of a cheat than I realized, because nothing he says is accurate. He makes fun of Ellen having a love life when “4 or 5” members of her family have just died. But only one has just died and her dating Michael Caine is part of her struggle to move on with her life. Jeni makes fun of her for going to an island to hide from the shark, but of course she’s not trying to hide at all and in fact feared going there for the very reason that a shark can get to an island. The only legitimate complaint in that whole routine is about how fast the shark was able to swim there, although he doesn’t actually beat the jet as Jeni says and it’s unclear how much time has passed when he does show up. So I take exception to that comedy.

Well, shit. There you have it everybody. I’m the guy. The one guy who says JAWS THE REVENGE isn’t all that bad. Please adjust your respect for my opinion accordingly.

The director is Joseph Sargent, a prolific director of TV movies. He didn’t come from “Night Gallery” like all the other JAWS directors. He was actually from an earlier generation, going back to “Lassie” and “Star Trek.” One of the few theatrical movies he directed, though, was THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE. And not the Tony Scott version, either. The Joseph Sargent version. Something to be proud of.

I bet if they used the PELHAM theme song for THE REVENGE it would’ve gone over better.

* * *
Watching these movies made me wonder something. Why is it that sequels appeal to me so much? They’re an easy way for studios to make money without having to gamble on new ideas, everybody knows that’s why they’re made. And while there are sequels that manage to live up to or even surpass the first time around (THE GODFATHER PART II, ALIENS, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 [gotta throw that one in there], THE DARK KNIGHT) I think we all agree that’s an exception to the rule. Most of the time – including in the case of this particular shark series – the best you can hope for is a pretty entertaining but derivative hollow shell of the original that has a few funny or cool twists to the formula.

But somehow I like that about them. Or maybe I just like ’80s sequels. If I like the thing that started it all, it might be best that they left that thing alone. But since they didn’t, the sequels become a part of the history of that thing, and somehow take on an importance in my mind. I like that it’s a series, a continuing character or theme that can be reworked or copied by different filmatic teams over the years, with varying success. It’s kind of like they’re given a challenge, a set of rules to work within or to bend. You gotta have a shark in it, you gotta have some bullshit connection to the Brody family, you gotta use this theme music, but other than that just be creative. I like seeing the different things they tried to keep it fresh. If I like the series enough as a whole I’ll even go back and revisit the bad ones every once in a while. I seem to go through the entire FRIDAY THE 13TH or NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series once every couple of years. I even rewatch the HALLOWEEN sequels every once in a while, and those are mostly terrible. I like watching the PSYCHO sequels, even though the original is so sacred and so separate from them. I still enjoy them.

So if you want somebody to blame for all the unnecessary sequels made in the ’80s, blame me. It was partly my fault. I didn’t mean any harm, though. Don’t take it personal.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 16th, 2010 at 10:46 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

107 Responses to “Jaws: The Revenge”

  1. I think Vern has just broken my brain

    first I read his review of Blade Runner from a few years ago where he said he found the movie a bit boring, now I read his Jaws 4 review and he defended it

    still in all fairness, I think the biggest problem people have with the movie (or me at least) is that the original Jaws felt like something that could really happen (any nitpicks aside) and by number 4 they threw in these strange supernatural elements that are never explained and don’t make any sense, you lose the sense that “this could happen to me” feel that made Jaws so scary (after all it’s certainly possible to get attacked by a shark)

    so that’s my two cents, also check this picture out http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e9/Jaws_The_Revenge_-_Explode.jpg

  2. and Vern, have you ever actually seen Troll 2?

    it’s awful, but hilarious, it’s probably the most nonsensical movie ever made and that includes all of David Lynch’s movies

  3. I was the guy who said the fatal flaw of the JAWS series is that it wouldn’t leave the damn Brody family alone but it’s hard to argue with a theory like “maybe Brodys are delicious”

  4. also, I think Vern should ride the Jaws ride at Universal Studios next

    think of it as an “interactive sequel”

  5. Vern – If it was anybody else expressing this opinion, I would rip them a new asshole. I bet others here would agree with this assessment to a degree. That’s how much we respect ya.

    And within your context, it makes sense. Even though, I hate to pull the Roger Ebert* card here, but I don’t get how you can not something like CRANK but like this. Reminds me how Devin Farraci didn’t like BATMAN BEGINS, but gave a favorable review to FANTASTIC FOUR. Eh what?

    But hey its ok, again at least you make sense why. And even then, I doubt its necessarily a potent positive review. Sounds more lukewarm.

    The best thing, maybe the only good thing about REVENGE is Michael Caine’s awesome quote afterwards: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

    Caine = Pimp

    *=Hated DIE HARD but liked the sequel. Hated A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and FIGHT CLUB, but gave COP & A HALF and WELCOME TO WELLVILLE thumbs up.

  6. Griff – How about instead Vern get married there?

  7. Fuck Yeah Jaws 4!!! Don’t worry Vern, you aint the only one that likes it. I haven’t seen it in years but i love this movie because i saw it when i was a kid and it scared the fuck out of me. I love that its the stalker slasher version of jaws. my parents wouldn’t let me see real horror movies when i was a kid so this was actually the first stalker slasher i saw, I hadnt seen Halloween and learned it was my favorite movie of all time yet so this seemed amazing. I haven’t revisited it because its so poorly regarded and i didn’t want to sully my fond memories but this review has inspired me too add it to my collection. (i also loved jaws 3 but for different reasons)

  8. well RRA, you’re not gonna agree with a critic 100% of the time

    I generally like Ebert, but there are still a lot of reviews by him that I don’t agree with

  9. There is also the unofficial JAWS 5, Bruno Mattei’s CRUEL JAWS. It’s ostensibly a remake of the original Benchley novel (it actually includes that stupid mobster subplot) but it also pinches ideas and footage from several of the JAWS films as well as a bunch of other Italian knock-offs.

  10. Nice review. To me there´s only one Jaws and no sequels. I like to lie to myself.

  11. I just looked “Cruel Jaws” up on IMDB and so one thing in the Goofs section that made me laugh way too loud for a Monday morning:

    “Revealing mistakes: Sometimes the shark is clearly a dolphin.”

  12. Another big laugh gave me my RSS feed thingy, that notifies me whenever a new comment shows up on here. Because after my last comment it read:
    “Comment on Jaws: The Revenge by CJ Holden”

  13. Yeah, the whole “Revenge” thing is confusing, because if all the sequels count, then how come what was going on there wasn’t attempts at revenge? Were they just random copycat shark attacks? Wannabe punk Sharks trying to ride the coattails of Jaws? And if they don’t count, well still, what the hell do the sharks have to get revenge for? They started this bullshit! The Brodys only did what they had to do against a Clear and Present Danger to swimmers! At this point, the sharks persistence in trying this is just perpetuating a cycle of violence due to what? Some Shark Mafia equivalent of Omerta?
    Maybe they should have tried to redeem the sharks by doing a sequel where they get framed for some more killings (by Quint’s long lost crazy son or something?) and they have to prove their innocence and fight a Robotic Shark Replicant or something…

  14. If they made JAWS 5 today…not a remake or anything, they just called it JAWS 5…would it make money? Imagine a CG shark in an epic Stephen Sommers-helmed summer tentpole picture starring Shia Lebeouf and Jessica Biel in 3-D IMAX. I’m not asking if it would be any good (although I’d be more in favor of an actual sequel than a blasphemous remake), only whether or not it would be a hit. Does the original have that much lasting power that
    younger viewers would even know what it was? Would a sequel 23 years down the line still draw any of the older fans in?

    You’ve got to at least admit a shark tooth in place of the roman numeral “V” would look pretty badass.

  15. Vern,

    If it makes you feel any better, Richard Jeni shot himself in the face on purpose in 2007, and very soon afterwards, died. Revenge, indeed.

  16. I never saw this movie, and I imagine I never will, but I always liked how ridiculous the tagline seemed, “This time it’s personal”. Crazy.

  17. Christof – no, that doesn’t make me feel any better at all. And as long as everybody’s bummed out you should know that the little girl who played the granddaughter was murdered by her dad.

  18. that’s not really funny Christof :/

  19. after checking imdb I see that the girl is Judith Barsi, who also played Ducky in The Land Before Time

    yeah her death is pretty infamous and always depresses you

  20. The tagline “This time it’s personal” is so famous and was parodies a gazillion times, but was there ever any other movie that used it? Because today’s popculture seems to think it was the tagline for every actionmovie sequel of the 80’s.

  21. I always loved something Roger Ebert said in his original review: “I beleive that the shark wants revenge against Mrs. Brody. I do. I really do believe it. After all, her husband was one of the men who hunted this shark and killed it, blowing it up. And what shark wouldn’t want revenge against the survivors of the men who killed it?”

    After reading Vern’s review, I suspect that “ghost shark” is the most likely hypothesis. I also think the title could refer too the revenge of terrible, profit-driven 80s Hollywood on the great films of bold, artistic 70s Hollywood.

  22. “Always seemed like a cheat to me to just describe a movie plot and call that comedy” …

    Look, I support Badass Cinema scholarship, and in particular the sub-field of Seagology. But, Vern — something about pots, kettles, and black comes to mind here.

    Your description of the “big man, big balls/I need time” scene in On Deadly Ground makes me weep with joyous laughter every time.

  23. I think it was years of shark-related stress that killed Chief Brody. When everybody keeps telling you that the impossible thing that happened to you twice is never going to happen to you again, wouldn’t you get paranoid? Wouldn’t you spend a lot of lonely nights out on that lifeguard tower, staring at the water with a carton of cigarettes, a bottle of whiskey, and a high-powered (but ultimately useless) rifle ? And wouldn’t that be bad for your blood pressure?

  24. Lets admit it, JAWS 4 was produced so Sheinberg could give his wife a starring vehicle.

    At least thats my understanding of that situation.

  25. If Chief Brody was so stressed about shark attacks, shouldn’t him and his family move to Kansas?

  26. And abandon the citizens of Amity? You don’t know Chief Brody very well. He took an oath to protect those ungrateful bastards, and by God, that’s just what he did.

  27. And don’t you think that the shark would have found him even in Kansas!?

  28. I’m almost certain that a 3D movie starring Jessica Biel would make money. (Call it “Into the Deep Blue”, and have it be a sequel to Deep Blue Sea. But without hyper-intelligent sharks. Or something.)

    Also, it occurs to me that if the underlying and unspoken plot of Jaws2 is followed (shark was formerly a mate to J1, returning to the area to give birth–which if I recall correctly actually happens in the novel when she’s being fried to death), then this could easily be son of Jaws looking for revenge for the death of his/her mother.

  29. About the last paragraph, I also really like sequels and for me I like them because it is a great way to judge people’s individual talents. It’s hard sometimes to compare one movie to another unrelated movie, but sequels have common parts in them so anything new is easy to see and compare. Watching people try and find new things to do with movie monsters like Jason and Freddy is a good test of their own abilities like some kind of drama exercise. It’s tough to watch when people fail (current Freddy), but I feel it’s worth it overall when someone gets it right(New Nightmare).

  30. Flash Mask Udor

    May 17th, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Speaking of great movies and not that great sequels – have you ever tought of reviewing the Return of the Living Dead series, Vern?

  31. I would argue that Return 3 is great sequel.

  32. Isn’t Ellen flashing back to the Bruce-defeating scene original Jaws that she wasn’t even present for at the end there?

  33. I always have a soft spot for this movie b/c a) it was on HBO like every single day when I was a kid, b) Mario Van Peebles is fantastic (I’ve still never seen the version where his character lives though!) c) Ellen Brody reminds me a lot of my mom – stubborn as hell and slightly batty, but always right in the end. Oh, and it has that cheesy song by The Jets during the dance scene. I actually still don’t quite understand WTF happened at the end of the movie, but I guess you do have to give them props for just not blowing Jaws up again.

    Speaking of which – I think someone here pointed out all the sharks in Deep Blue Sea were killed in the same way and same order as the sharks in Jaws (exploding gas, biting an electric wire, dynamite) – I really wish someone electrocuted and impaled a fourth shark in that movie.

  34. I own a biography of Caine where the author (Christopher Bray) is modestly but extensively defensive of JTR, talking of its “psychoanalytic undertow” and saying that it deserves credit for playing with “the shark’s status as a psychosexual emblam”! Curious given that he is far harsher on (IMO) considerably better movies. But I do have a soft spot for this film as I mentioned in the JAWS… 2…3-D? JAWS 2 thread, I think. So many JAWSes! (And I’m loving it!)

  35. Damn it, Vern…. now I’m going to have to go back and watch this again…

  36. I was waiting for this review, and you did not disappoint, Vern. I like this movie too, in that I enjoy watching for what it is. I thought that Mrs. Brody and her son the Last Starfighter were very good in it, not to mention Caine and Jamaican Mario Van Peebles.

    I always appreciated the non-continuity of the Brody children, it reminds me of a shark-cursed version of the Griswolds… somewhere in my brain there is an alternate-reality hybrid series of Vacation/Jaws movies where Chief Griswold and his family vacationed on Amity Island.

    Though I find it hard to believe there’s been no reference to my favorite part, when they zap the shark with their camera flash/strobe light (?) and it rears up out of the water and roars like a T-Rex, that never fails to make me smile.

  37. Yeah, this movie is awful but it’s almost become a classic bad movie a la Plan 9 and/or Batman and Robin. I saw this in the theater and knew even at age 9 that it was crap. I will say its watchibility factor is higher than most so-bad-its-good movies.
    Whenever its on TV, I still get sucked into it, so there you go….

  38. It also has to be said that the opening scene where Sean gets killed is suprisingly effective (stupid shark teeth chomping notwithstanding). I mean getting eaten while your screams are drowned out by a Christmas choir is a pretty messed up way to go…

  39. Class3KillStorm

    May 17th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I’ll always have a soft spot for this movie, and not just because I liked this one the most as a kid (at 5 years old, this movie has JUST enough going on to keep you interested between shark appearances, while the whole “shark-wants-revenge-for-another-sharks-death-follows-old-woman-for-snacktimes” plot can be better accepted at face value without maturity, critical thinking and experience telling you how stupid it is).

    No, I’ll always like it because of the “JAWS” video game for the NES that shamelessly ripped off every element of this movie, even though it was sold more on the CONCEPT of Jaws than anything else. Boat stabbing? Check. Jaws tracker stabbed into his back? Check. Michael Caine’s seaplane? Hell, you can use it drop bombs (with little parachutes) on jellyfish! For bonus points! They even ripped off the JAWS 4 poster and used it as the title screen. I went back and played it a couple of years ago while I was in college, and I was finally able to beat the game for the first time. I’d never been able to as a kid, and, now that I’m good at video games, it took like 40 minutes. And I was treated to one of the worst endings ever:


    So, yeah, JAWS 4: THE REVENGE… Bad movie, bad video game, but the stupid 5 year old in me won’t ever let me sweep it under some mental rug and forget about it.

  40. Speaking of Troll 2, you can watch it for free over on IMDB! Bet you can’t make it in one viewing.

  41. I’m the opposite. I had the Jaws game. It’s not a very good game nor was it ever exciting at any point.

  42. On the Jaws 3 TB, I said that Vern will like JAWS 4. I was right.
    Nothing beats an psycho/ stalker shark. Except the Brody Family.

  43. I kind of figured he’d been won over, too. If he was willing to accept Orca’s revenge plot, why not Bruce’s?

  44. Vern, and anybody who cares, you all need to find the novelization of this movie. I bought it when the movie came; I was about 9 years old. I can’t stomach the movie much; something about it still rubs the wrong way. But the novelization is way ballsy in its description of the death of Sean in the beginning (best part of the movie also) and in the way that it gives a voice to the shark. Seriously; portions of the book are told from the shark’s perspective, seen as a demon incarnate out for bloody revenge.

  45. Vern, the whole revenge angle actually makes a lot of sense, if you assume that all the sharks in these movies are members of the same shark-family. Great white sharks can live up to 30 years old, so even in terms of timescale it makes sense.

    Maybe in the first movie it was the daddy of this shark family who got killed by Brody. And the kids of the shark family were killed in the first two sequels. And in this fourth chapter the mother shark finally decides to revenge the deaths of her husband and her children.

    It all actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it that way.

  46. Yes, they could definitely all be part of the same Shark family. All brothers and sisters. And the next film needs to feature Big Daddy. And, unlike his children, this shark is BIG.

  47. And maybe he could fight a giant octopus or something. Because there’s no possible way for that to suck.

  48. Yes, the suck is already on our hands, so lets go Big.

  49. Troll 2 is a masterpiece of accidental cinema genius.

    and i’ll be watching Jaws 4 again soon.

  50. also, Majestyk, i’ve seen Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus at least 6-7 times. shit cracks me up every time. can’t wait to see Asylum’s latest piece of shit, Mega Piranha.

  51. I’ll admit that it had its moments. And luckily, most of those moments were replayed eight or nine times to save money.

  52. to be fair, my gf is the one who really loves it. i can’t watch it nearly as often as she wants to. but any time a friend comes over who hasn’t seen it, i know what’s about to happen.

    unless they also haven’t seen Troll 2 or The Room. those take precedence.
    needless to say, people don’t expect to see anything above 2 stars when they come to my place.
    except On Deadly Ground. that’s mandatory.

  53. By the way, have you guys been to AICN lately and seen Vern’s epic takedown of some angry dickrag named Cyrus? Here is an excerpt:

    “What I want you to do is find a mirror, look at yourself, and say YOU, CYRUS… YOU ARE SOMEBODY. And then I want you to go out there and act like it. You don’t have to be like this anymore. You are a human being and you have a right to dignity. You can contribute something positive to the world. If you can’t do it on the computer then unplug it and find a better way. We will miss you like a motherfucker but we will soldier on comforted by the knowledge that you’re out there somewhere finally getting your shit together. For yourself, for your family, for mankind. And we will never forget you.

    I guarantee you you are better than this. Believe me, I’ve been down in the dumps myself, but I pulled myself up out of the shit. With hard work and humility you can do it too. I’m not fuckin around, I believe in you. You can do this. We are all pulling for you.

    thanks Cyrus”

    Vern, seriously, you should make a book of your best talkbacker responses. This would be THE definitive dissertation on how to handle a douchebag with class and grace.

  54. as far as I can tell, this shark is a ghost, or supernatural force, like javier bardem in no country for old men.
    this shark is going after the members of the family that turned his species into a monster, there isn’t a spielberg in this movie world to blame, but this is a meta revenge story against shark movies by way of shark movie.
    michael caine knew what he was doing, and even if he didn’t know this movie had depth, he knew he would get a holiday in the bahamas and could spend most nights smoking pot and ploughing nubian virgins.

  55. CrustaceanHate

    May 17th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Did someone say RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3? Man, I love that movie. Came as a big surprise after the disappointing rehash of RotLD 2. Don’t bother with RoTLD4 or 5 though. Shot-in-Romania, Sci-Fi channel garbage.

    As far as terrible shark movies go, I would also recommend SHARK ATTACK 3: MEGALODON. The special effects consist of tiny people clumsily CG’d onto stock footage of sharks (tiger, great white, whatever they can find) and features the immortal line “I’m really wired. What do you say I take you home and eat your pussy.”

  56. I’m a big fan of THE LAST SHARK, aka GREAT WHITE. That’s the Italian ripoff that got sued by Universal for competing with JAWS 2 (and also for having the exact same plot as JAWS and even some of the same characters, more or less). It’s great because sometimes the shark is a big rubber thing that can’t move its mouth (it’s not even animatronic—there are clearly just two grips underwater moving it up and down), sometimes its a little plastic shark on a stick in a fishtank, and sometimes its horrifyingly real footage of an actual Great White chomping the living shit out of a side of beef. It keeps you on your toes.

  57. CrustaceanHate

    May 17th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Hey Majestyk, I like THE LAST SHARK too. Enzo G. Castellari makes some entertaining trash. Have you seen BRONX WARRIORS? Bruno Mattei’s CRUEL JAWS actually steals some of the special effects shots from THE LAST SHARK, which should give you a good idea of it’s level of quality.

    Also, thanks for recommending RED. I watched it a couple of days ago. Good shit.

  58. Daniel Strange

    May 17th, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Wait. Is Return of the Living Dead 3 the one with all the self-mutilation? “The pain makes the hunger go away” and all that? Look, if that turns you guys on, well, you’re welcome to it. But that movie is not one of my favorites. Call me nuts, but I don’t enjoy watching a hot chick jam sharp objects into her tits.

    Out of curiosity – why do y’all like it? (Not to derail the Jaws 4 discussion.)

  59. If you want the big takedown review of Jaws 4, Jabootu has it: http://www.jabootu.com/jawstr.htm

    Australians have a different perspective on this stuff… Vern touched on it in his Howling: The Marsupials review but they seem to really respect sharks despite a few people getting killed each year by them. i’ve heard of wives of men killed by sharks demanding that the sharks not be killed. my boss had his leg bitten by a smaller shark and didn’t tell the papers or anything ’cause he didn’t want the sharks hurt or (shades of Jaws) the island to lose tourism dollars

    i’m an American expat, so it seems a bit weird, but it’s part of the whole ‘respecting nature’ vibe. like they accept that sometimes a shark will swim into Bondi Beach and eat someone

  60. CrustaceanHate has it right. Return 3 is a great watch. 2 isn’t so bad, but it would have been better if they strayed a bit more from the structure of the first. and yes, 4 & 5 are garbage.

    to address Dan Strange, the movie is an over the top explosion of horrifying events. i remember seeing that movie on late night tv as a kid and being fucking mortified. like serious trauma, matched only by my first viewing of Alien. i knew the effects were cheap, but there’s so much vile shit going on in that movie, it really nailed me as a kid.

    only recently did i rewatch it, after many years of horror desensitizing. to ask why i like that movie is to ask why i like gory horror movies at all, especially comically over the top stuff like Evil Dead. and that explanation requires far more thought than i’m putting in this post.

    so Vern, i absolutely think you should get on that series. you don’t have to wait until halloween.

  61. Maybe Open Water would be a good follow up to these reviews Vern Ole Boy, kinda going from the un-realistic action adventure shark movies to a more natural realistic take. I enjoyed the first one as much as one can say they enjoy that films events but I never saw the sequel so i can’t vouch for that.

    I also would enjoy the book comprised of Vern internet smackdowns. Just saying.

  62. CrustaceanHate

    May 17th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Dan Strange: Well, I like that it goes in a vastly different direction and takes things more seriously than the unbearably goofy RotLD 2. I like the tragic romance angle. I like the inventive gore effects. I like the parody of grunge/gen X culture with the whole morbidity/self-mutilation thing, kind of like the punks in the first film. Also, you get to see Melinda Clarke’s boobs a lot.

  63. The Jaws series is one of the worst that I know of. If there was ever a movie that should have been a standalone movie, it’s Jaws. Each sequel is worse then the one before it. There is hardly any connection except for the shark constantly trying to kill the Brody family. I guess if you watch part 4 as nothing more then a low budget horror movie it might be ok. I still remember seeing this movie in the theater as a kid and thinking it was dumb. I have watched it once since then and I still couldn’t get past the complete idiocy of the story, or Mario Van Peebles horrible accent for that matter. It did actually make me laugh both times I saw it, so it gets points for that.

  64. Fellow Defendor

    May 18th, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I realise this is pretentious, but I always stick up for Jaws IV, and here is why (and I am not trying to be cute or ironic). It is a post modern art film. It is a completely self-aware sequel. As soon as the first shark attack hits, Ellen basically says “Oh shit. The inevitable has finally happened. I’m in Jaws IV.” She thought that maybe Jaws III was the end, but no – a new film has started, and that means her family will be relentless terrorized by a great white until a one-on-one showdown at the end. Don’t worry about how the shark knows who her family are, or where they are, or why it is after revenge. That is not the focus of the story. The story is that of Ellen Brody, trapped in a sequel she does not want to be in, her destiny inescapably laid out for her. Her husband knew it would come eventually – the stress of thinking about it killed him in an off-screen heart attack.
    She is like The Prisoner, in that old TV series, trying to escape the confines of the series format but of course always failing because she is part of the format.
    Did the filmatists intentionally do it this way, or were they just bad writers? I don’t know, and I don’t really care – no matter if they intended to make a post-modern art film or not, they did in my opinion.

  65. Vern, are you alright? No, really, are you alright?

    Firs tof all, ther eis no way in hell that TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART II is better then the first movie. No way in hell. Secondly, and while i love it, ALIENS can only be considered a better sequel to ALIEN only if you are an action movie junkie. Othwerwis,e there’s lots of way to see that ALEIN is the better movie. And by the way, ALIENS has the same dramatic beats that ALIEN has. Only it shows them with the tropes of an action movie thrown in. This is not dissing ALIENS, a movie i loved a lot and saw 6 times in the theaters back in the day. But this notion that ALIENS is a better movie is one f those dogmas that repeated so much passes as truth. And because those who say that are action mvoie junkies.

    Now, as for the shark’s actions in JAWS: THE REVENGE. Well, a shark deliberatly persuing the Brodies is just not a preposterous notion that the movie bases itself and runs alongit itself. It’s not just it’s own internal logic. No, a shark revenging in a vendetta, a personalized act of revenge on a very specific target, well, that’s an impossibility. It’s not improbable or unpredictable, it’s IMPOSSIBLE. The comparison to Charles Broson in the DEATH WISH movie is bad, because Bronson and the character he plays are humans. Humans personalise. Humans are rational beings who make a rational choic,e like revenging on a particular target, to take vendetta. Sharks cannot do that. It’s not a leap of logic, it’s just a complete impossibility. Total complete impossibility. The movie is based on a very dumb stupid premise that makes no sense whatsoever in any scenario. The shark is not even an intelligent animal like an Orca, where you can sell the idea that an exceptional one could develop a proto-personality and target a specific target and them go after one. You cna seel, that on superior intelligent animals like a dog, an ape, a crow, an orca, a whale, hell evne an octopus, which have an intelligence equivalent of a dog. but this goes beyond any reasonability about a shark. Sharks hav enot survived because they are smart, but because they have evolved into a perfect body-function nature. Much like the coachroaches too. It wasn’t intelligence that made them the champions of evolution, they won the evolution lottery.

    REally,it’s impossible to selel the idea of an intelligent shark that could go on a personal vendetta. And that includes paranormal supernatural whateverthehell. Even that is absurd! The movie is just very dumb. It’s the rsult of a desperate atempt to try to make another JAWS movie in which to bring back the familiar characters of the brodies, and making up some excuse to have them face againa huge shark. And all this “the movie acknowledges it’s own absurdity” doesn’t cut it. They even invented an expression for this type of thing,it’s called A COUP OUT. Yeah, they are also on the joke, right! No, it doesn’t work!

    There’s a very good reason why this movie is bashed like it is. And the reason is, it’s fucking terrible! Michael Bay dumb bad!

    I know it hurts to think this movie is form the same director that made the supeior movies THE TAKING OF PELAM 123 and COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT. Those two are great example sof their genre, directed by an obviously intelligent and talented filmmaker. But he failed with JAWS 4. He failed miserably. And it’s not even Joseph Sargent i rereally blame him, but the studio system that aloowed such a type of shiity movie to even be considered as good enough to have money invested on it and go to production and mass consuption. JAWS: THE REVENGE again proves that the 80s was the time when proper intelligent cinema was defeated with dumb high concept studio trash, of which evne talented filmmakers from the past like Sargent got sucked in.

    At least Michael Caine got to buy a new house. Good for him.

  66. Crustacean: I don’t think I’ve seen BRONX WARRIORS yet, but I have seen Enzo’s THE NEW BARBARIANS, which is probably the only movie I’ve ever seen where halfway through the villain sodomizes the hero. So it’s kind of like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but in the future, starring a man, and all the bad guys are dressed up like Spaceballs.

    Glad you liked RED. I’m not sure the ending 100% works but it sure is badass.

  67. Asimov – I said those sequels “manage to live up to” the originals. I didn’t say they were better. Since I’ve written about 75,000 words about TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE being one of the best movies of all time I didn’t figure anybody would think I was saying part 2 was better. Just that it’s a misunderstood great sequel.

    And I always say that ALIEN is my favorite, but actually I consider both ALIEN and ALIENS to be flawless, so I guess technically they’re tied.

    As for animals getting revenge, if you’ve seen ORCA you know that orcas have a human capacity for revenge. She says it in the lecture, so it can’t be impossible.

  68. ORCA had a slideshow and everything. You can’t make that stuff up, not with 1977 technology.

  69. Hey Vern, Im kinda curious here… are there any films you genuinely wish had not been sequalized? Is there any series where the subsequent films diminished the original in some way for you?

    I usually tend to be adamently anti-sequel, even if they’re good (for instance, I’m on record catagorically opposing sequels to AVATAR, DISTRICT 9, THE MATRIX, and even EASTERN PROMISES) but I must say that I really appreciate your distinct perspective on how a family of sequels, once it’s brought into the world, is worth exploring with an open mind. I would never in a million years have watched all the PHANTASMs, PSYCHOS, or CHAINSAWS if it hadn’t been for your ability to consider them in a fair and unique way. So thanks man, for inspiring me to strive for excellence.

  70. Vern’s pulse never got above 85, even when he praised JAWS: THE REVENGE.

    Truly an outlaw.

  71. I’m actually cool with sequels, I think I’m more lenient on things like the Matrix sequels then other people. I enjoy Indy IV (take THAT Shia). Where I become face-meltingly outraged is prequels. Never ever ever a good idea. Ever.

  72. Brendan– Oddly, despite my distaste for sequels at a conceptual level, I tend to be more generous to them than most; as long as they exist I think I might as well enjoy the positive things about them (I’m on record vigorously defending the MATRIX, PIRATES, and even STAR WARS sequels/prequels). But Im usually a little sad that they were made, and can’t help but think that the time and energy would have been better spent elsewhere…

  73. GrimGrinningChris

    May 18th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I would be 100% down for starting a fund to get Vern to Universal Orlando to have him ride the movies and review all the rides here, not just JAWS.

  74. Maybe we could all go. Field trip!

  75. GrimGrinningChris

    May 18th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I should have put “ride the movies” in quotes… maybe with a little trademark symbol to boot.

  76. That’s a good question, Subtlety. JAWS seems like it would be a good choice for too-sacred-to-sequelize, but I don’t feel like there’s anybody who lumps all those together and forgets how great the original was. That might be the case for FIRST BLOOD, but I enjoy the absurd sequels to that anyway.

    I’ll think about it. I’m not coming up with any answers off the top of my head.

  77. While I’m not really much of a SAW fan (and I actually like some of the later entries better than the first one) I would say that the sequels have ruined the reputation of the original. When the first SAW came out, it was regarded as a clever low-budget thriller that brought some much-needed grit to a genre besieged by a glut of PG-13 J-horror remakes. However many sequels later, the word SAW is synonymous with soulless, money-grubbing, lowest-common-denominator, earn-all-its-money-back-from-stupid-teenagers-on-the-first-weekend mainstream horror product. I kind of like how the plots of the sequels keep twisting ever inward, obsessively reliving and reexamining events from past entries like they’re the JFK assassination, but I don’t think anybody remembers living in a world where, for nine or ten months, SAW was considered a pretty good movie.

  78. Even some of the sequels aren’t bad, I do kind of resent the HALLOWEEN series, because, similar to what Majestyk said about the SAW movies, now a lot of people think of the original as just another dumb slasher movie. When, in my opinion, it’s a masterpiece, one of the 5 or 10 best horror movies ever made.

  79. CrustaceanHate

    May 18th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I think time has a lot to do with it as well. When a terrible, legacy-ruining sequel gets released it’s easy to get swept up in anger, but years later it’s easier to appreciate absurdity of, say, JAWS: THE REVENGE on it’s own merits.

  80. I think there are people who forget just how actively creepy and fucked up the first Evil Dead was, they just sort of lump all three into the horror-comedy category. The first one ain’t no comedy.

  81. Jareth Cutestory

    May 18th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Majestyk: I don’t know if I’m just getting old, but I honestly can’t tell any of the SAW films apart. In terms of plot, aesthetics, performances – none of it breaks down into distinct sections, at least in my memory. I have sort of a vague idea that the plot is going somewhere, but it’s not especially clear in my mind. Maybe that’s the result of coming to the films late on video.

    That actually works in the films’ favor because it all comes across as one big work, like a season of a distinctly crappy HBO show; whatever their other flaws, they’re more consistent than any other horror series I can think of. And much of what is ludicrous about SAW was there right from the beginning; the films don’t suffer from the introduction of some big new element half way into the series.

  82. so, Mr. Subtlety, what your asking is… what sequels raped Vern’s childhood?

  83. dammit, “you’re”!!!

  84. I get the distinct feeling (perhaps incorrectly) that Vern’s childhood differed somewhat from the usual internet film geek. I dont get the sort of this nostalgic canonization of films which informed the halcyon days of youth which is almost ubiquitous throughout the rest of the internet — maybe that’s why I like him so much. So I feel like in a way he is immune to the “raped my childhood” syndrome — that he approaches each film on the merit of where he is in his life now. Which I guess may be why sequels don’t seem to faze him the way they do most of the rest of us.

    Forgive me if I’m wrong Vern, just speculating. I’ve read a good bit of your back catalogue and I find it interesting how little of it has any specific references to your distant past — in sharp contrast with almost all the othe writers out there. You seem to approach geek stuff from a different perspective, and I guess that’s why I was wondering where sequels fit into your way of thinking about classic movies.

  85. GrimGrinningChris

    May 19th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    The more I think about it… the more I NEEEED Vern to review all the movie rides at niversal Orlando. ASAP.

  86. Jareth Cutestory

    May 19th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Mr. Subtlety: I get the distinct feeling (perhaps incorrectly) that Vern learned to shave with a bayonet.

  87. Vern was never a child. One day many years ago he emerged fully grown from a cave somewhere on the outskirts of Seattle, holding a clarinet for purposes of badass juxtaposition.

  88. yeah, i was just trying to be funny. amusing. jocular. vern’s largely positive review of indy 4 supports your theory (unfortunately, my nostalgic attachments ruined that viewing experience for me – though i’m not entirely sure it’s not simply a bad movie).

  89. Funny you should mention that, Brendan. I posted a comment on imdb recently saying just that, as a justification for a remake. I think they should do it Van Sant Psycho-style, shot-for-shot — because the production values are the only thing lacking in the original. (Aside from the shitty dialogue, but that never stopped a horror film from being great.)

    In terms of style, it’s brilliant, and there’s a reason it put Raimi on the map.




  91. Is that 2 including the shark? I think we should go ahead and call it 2 1/2 because of Mario Van Peebles.

  92. Wasn’t there also one guy snatched from the banana boat?

  93. Jareth — that WOULD be true, if Vern ever shaved.

  94. Jareth Cutestory

    May 21st, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Mr. Subtlety: re. your earlier post: I think the distinction you make between Vern and many other online reviewers is a distiction between cinephiles and fan boys.

    I’m not sure to what extent childhood is a factor. The critical acumen needed to be a cinephile is usually the result of dicipline, erudition and a commitment to certain critical standards, while a fanboy’s enthusiasms are usually more subject to whims and group membership.

  95. Jareth — excellent point, although I’d add that being a fanboy also has a distinct element of nostalgia to it. Harry’s the worst offender (of course), but almost all the fanboy reviewers seem to find their childhood experiences with film powerfully relavent to the way they consider and take in media today (hence, the classic “Raped My Childhood” syndrome). Which is odd for me, anyway. I mean, I had a childhood too; obviously some of my fondness for STAR WARS and shit comes from nostalgic memories of enjoying it as a kid. But I feel like my relationship with media is vastly more defined by where I am now. I just seldom find myself typing the sentence “…see, the first time I watch [name] was when I was 10 years old…”

    On the other hand, my tastes tend to run towards genre stuff, which puts me more in line with the fanboys. I guess that’s why I love this site so much… genuine interest in all kinds of movies, without feeling like group therapy.

    On a related note, full-grown grizzly bears have been known to become lost in Vern’s beard for months at a time.

  96. Jareth Cutestory

    May 21st, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Mr. Subtlety: Of course it’s an excellent point: you were the one who made it! I just rephrased it.

    I don’t want to give the fan boys a hard time. There’s no one way of experiencing a film or celebrating enthusiasm for film that is more legitimate than others. I don’t think I’d say that fan boyism explicitly asks its members to divest themselves of their intellects (a practice I am not in favor of), even if emotion is often valued more than erudition. And I’m always amused when some dude shows up at a movie theater dressed like Darth Boba or whatever. I’ll probably never understand how enthusiasm for a film got all mixed up with rhetorcial boners and body fluids, but maybe that’s just what the kids do these days.

    At the same time, I don’t consider myself a fan boy. I’d rather struggle with a challenging text than practice hard like that You Tube lightsaber kid. Just a personal preference. I do think, however, that film ciriticism by guys like Jameson or Deluze got a lot more interesting when they started to take into account the subject positions of the fan boys as a part of the experience of media.

    On a related note: my people speak of a time when Vern wandered alone in the desert. Vern struck a rock with his staff and water came forth.

  97. In a way I wonder if people who experience media this way are actually participating in a different kind of postmodern usage than the cinephiles do. Their media consumption is such an integral part of identity construction — as you astutely point out, group membership and adopting identifying markers are key traits of the so-called “fanboy” culture. Arguably, then, experiencing media is not so much about actual interpretation of messages as it is about contextualizing them into an evolving socio/cultural-identity. Which would go a long way towards explaining the deep personal investment so many seem to feel in the iconography of that media culture. If these media icons define a person, divergence from expected tropes would create a potentially painful cognitive dissonance, as expressed by the “raped my childhood” subculture. To the extent that these things represent a constructed personhood, it may indeed be that this kind of dissonance would feel violating at a very fundamental level.

    Not, of course, that I want to judge or diminish this kind of usage; just point out that there may be a bigger divide in perception than might be immediatly evident.

    Also, water? I heard it was a fine 15 year single malt scotch. For his friends, of course.

  98. I haven’t seen this since it was originally in theaters but Vern, go listen back to some of the musical scoring to it. It must be said, one surprisingly high quality thing about this sequel was Michael Small did a great job adapting William’s original work into something very tense and effective (and creating new stuff elsewhere). A really good soundtrack to a not very good flick.

  99. Jareth Cutestory

    May 22nd, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Mr. Subtlety: I think you are getting dangerously close to providing a reasonable psychological explanation for Raped My Childhood Syndrome (RMCS). The New England School of Medicine is going to be all over this stuff.

    Your phrase “deep personal investment” that “many feel in the iconography of that media culture” quite nicely explains something that I’ve always wondered about with fan boys, particularly uber-fan boys like Knowles: what compels them to fill their houses with all those collectables? Is there ever a point when they look at all their statues and toys and say, “wow, this is a lot of junk”?

    If I understand your point correctly, these shrines of movie memorabilia serve as physical manifestations of the socio/cultural-identity that you describe. They become both acknowledgements of the importance of certain works (the monetary value of the one-sheet correlates to the significance of the movie) but also serve to establish a pecking order among the group members (which is probably why “head geek” Knowles is always so eager to assert his biographical connection to every imaginable trend and genre, and to describe the souvenir he has to prove it).

  100. [W]hat really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films – these things matter.
    High Fidelity

  101. I believe that in the novelization (and perhaps the original script), the plot point of the shark following Mrs. Brody to the Bahamas WAS supernatural. I think it was something along the lines of one of the Jamaicans on the island cursing the Michael Caine character, causing the shark to show up. Can anyone confirm?

    By the way Vern, I like this movie too.

  102. I knew I was right! Here’s a review of the novel on amazon:

    “Surprisingly after the horrid mess of the movie, this novelization of the flopped film is quite enjoyable- and almost makes you completely forget about how terrible the movie was.
    In this average-sized novel, Hank Searls takes us on an adventure not only through the eyes of Ellen Brody, but also several of the other film characters and(gasp!) even the killer shark that is terrorizing her family. In the book, we find out more about why the shark is doing what it’s doing, making the plot more understandable and clear.
    Although the plot is still pretty far-fetched(it insinuates that the shark is under the control of a voodoo witch doctor who is an enemy of the Brody’s), it is for sure more enjoyable and interesting than the film, and I think all Jaws fans will breathe a sigh of relief when they read this, because it basically saves the whole “Jaws: The Revenge” topic from being a complete and utter disaster.”

  103. Hey Vern, this is my first post and i just felt I had to drop in to concur wholeheartedly with everything you said above. Now granted, I’m not exactly the most objective person in the world, I love sharks (way back when – I knew about all the attacks/species/teeth, etc..) so probably not coincidentally-

    Jaws is my favorite movie of all time.

    So when Jaws IV came out, my little elementary school sized heart almost couldn’t handle the amount of over-joy. Jaws 3 was the shit… but Jaws 4, oh man. I even remember the teaser from EntertainmentTonight showing Sean’s death scene. I was like – “NOOOOOO!!!”

    My mom took me to see it in the theatre atleast 3 times. And she still loves me. Unconditional love is a beautiful thing. So yeah, awesome write-up dude. It is what it is. I’d rather watch a self-aware movie like Jaws 3 or 4 than the joyless shit remakes (KingKong, The Wolfman..) that pass as entertainment nowadays.

  104. Finally I found someone who sees this film in the same light as myself. If I had my own movie blogs, I’d be posting a similar review.

    Two things destroyed this movie for the general public; direction and production. The individual responsible for the movie’s existence (not mentioned in the credits, but I know it was his idea) gave the movie such a small window for production, that everyone knew there was no way to make it work well. They also had issues with the shark in the water as they did in the original movie.

    There are two reasons to really enjoy this movie that you did not seem to mention. First, the acting itself was actually pretty good. You never really like any of them are just delivering lines, like so many films today. Also, the music really makes this thing work. Michael Small took Williams’ original score and just made it really spooky sounding; a fitting adjustment for this movie. You mention that this is the only one in the series that is actually scary. That I agree with completely. And you’re right, the reason it’s scary is because the impossible seems to be happening. It’s even acknowledged by the characters that the very idea of shark committing murder is totally out of the question. It’s almost as if this movie is not even in control of itself.

    You’re right about the shark too. While most criticize the way it looks, it honestly doesn’t look much different than the original one. It did seem though that they had several different models where only a couple were really necessary. Too many times you would see a different model in the same scene, which kind of made it look weird, but I can get over that.

  105. Thanks Steve, it’s great to find other people that liked this movie. I don’t think I said it’s the only one that’s scary, but that’s okay.

  106. Well, I finally got to see Jaws 4: The Version You’ve Never Seen Before on Amazon Prime. And time has been kind to it because I legit dug it this time. Having Mario Van Peebles survive, unlike the HBO version I grew up on, is just the right amount of preposterous to change it from “dumb horror movie that doesn’t know it’s dumb, hurrr hurrr” to an outright fun lark. It’s an improbable resurgence that rivals Danny Aiello in Hudson Hawk, and your results will vary, but I loved it. (And yes, that change means the body count is officially two – Sean Brody and the lady on the banana boat).

    Jaws: The Revenge answers the question nobody asked: can a movie still be considered “good” if it has a terrible premise and a botched, incoherent ending? Well I’m not sure about “good” but it’s definitely enjoyable and interesting. I think the acting is pretty solid, the directing is strong, the pace is pretty quick. At around 80 minutes it doesn’t wear out its welcome. The score and the way it works with and changes the Jaws theme is great. The senior citizen romance subplot is cute and charming, and just having a mother/son relationship be the central one in the movie already gives it a rare feel for a Hollywood movie; I can’t think of another one that hinges on that other than the one with Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand. Oh, and I don’t give a shit, I like Van Peebles in this, I don’t get why everyone makes fun of him. He’s a black character in an 80s horror movie who’s not disposable fodder or “the token” friend – he’s a real character with his own family and he’s Michael’s partner and equal (I heard he’s actually Michael’s boss but that’s not really made clear). He’s obviously book-smart but also comes up with the plan to defeat the shark through some John McClane-style improvisation and bravery/foolishness. And yes, it’s eye-rolling that he’s almost always wearing an item of clothing that says “Bahamas” on it, be it a Tshirt or a baseball cap or whatever, but guess what? I bet you most people remember this movie was set in the Bahamas and not Jamaica for a reason, and that was probably it.

    Btw – I’m sure you know this by now but apparently the novelization explains a voodoo priest puts a curse on the Brody family which possesses the shark. Not sure if I think that makes the movie’s admittedly terrible premise better or worse. Personally I’d like to think this is the mother shark to Jaws 1 and 2 (3 is noncanon I guess?), which makes the mother vs. mother showdown a slight rejiggering/ripoff of Aliens, which isn’t the worse thing in the world.

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