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Monday, January 14, 2013


     Based on the best selling novel by Peter Benchley, JAWS tells the story of a Great White shark terrorizing resort island Amity, New York.  It starts off with an amazingly scary opening scene.  A woman goes for a midnight dip in the ocean, alone.  She is brutally attacked and killed by some unknown creature in the water.Turns out to be a shark attack, and that shark is hungry.  The beaches happen to be packed as it's the middle of summer, and it's a regular smorgasboard for the shark.  Chief Martin Brody, of the Amity Police, soon finds himself on a quest to find this elusive beast and destroy it before it destroys the entire town.  This is classic nature run amok, man versus monster stuff.  

         A conversation came up the other day, concerning  JAWS and whether or not it was a legitimate horror movie. It got rather heated. There were a handful of people who honestly thought JAWS was cookie-cutter Spielberg fluff that just wasn't scary. The arguments against it being a true horror film were that it was rated PG for one, that sharks weren't scary, and that it was more of a mainstream action/adventure movie with some scary overtones.  Now for the arguments concerning JAWS being a deserving horror classic.

      It undeniably and legitimately scared the living shit out of pretty much the entire world in the mid-70's, and made an entire generation afraid to go in the water. And in the process forever tainted the reputation of the Great White shark, and sharks in general. Our fear of sharks today all stem from JAWS.  Now granted, humans have always feared the creatures of the deep.  But it was Spielberg's masterpiece that truly created a worldwide terror of sharks that is as strong today as it ever was. If that's not a horror film, then I don't know what is. On Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, JAWS was awarded the #1 spot, which apparently surprised many.  But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It created a massive cultural fear that lingers to this day, and that's pretty remarkable, if you ask me. It terrified people about going into the ocean like PSYCHO scared people from taking showers.

       JAWS  kicked off a wave of knock-offs, including PIRAHNA,ORCA: THE KILLER WHALE, ALLIGATOR, GRIZZLY (substitute shark for bear...), and countless others. Not to mention a slew of its own sequels. It truly was a phenomenon, and one of the biggest blockbusters of the decade. Recent horror flicks OPEN WATER and THE REEFall owe a nod to JAWS.  Spielberg's classic is still influencing filmmakers almost 40 years later.

     This film boasts a score that's every bit as recognizable and iconic as HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, and PSYCHO, and forever made Great White sharks a monster in our eyes. It's most deserving of its status not only as a classic film by Steven Spielberg, but a classic horror film as well. The handling of the suspense, the looming dread, the frightening sense of the unknown... all handled perfectly here. Horror means scary, and JAWS has certainly scared enough people.  It's a genuinely entertaining and immortal creature feature that easily ranks among the classics of horror.

It's one of the biggest films of all time, kids.  It's aged remarkably well, and looks downright sensational on blu-ray.  An enduring classic!


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