With “Jaws” there was the first blockbuster, one of the first killer animal films, a zeitgeist of a culture, the first indication to studios that films could be giant stunts worthy of franchising and merchandising, and perhaps one of the few killer animal films that are actually worth watching. The reason “Jaws” is still one of the best horror films ever made is because with it, Spielberg took the Hitchcock approach and relied on tension, terror, and genuine characterization to tell his story, while making us uneasy about stepping foot into a natural body of water forever.
Upon “Jaws” being toppled by “Star Wars” in success, Spielberg released a full page ad in newspapers nationwide congratulating Lucas, upon the merchandising for “Jaws,” Spielberg devised a wild idea for a candy for “Jaws” that featured a shark that bled Strawberry cream when you bit into it.
With “Jaws,” it wasn’t just a film about a killer shark, it was a surefire milestone in American cinema that signaled the beginning of the blockbuster, the notion that films could be full on cash cows for studios, and it provided the cure for the need of executives to break out of art house fare and into films that became high grossing products that were also amusement rides for audiences all around the world.
Being a hardcore Spielberg fan for most of my life, it was almost my duty to review “The Shark is Still Working,” and re-visit the franchise that garnered Spielberg a place in the hall of fame, and also ensured inferior and many times awful sequels that aren’t ending any time soon, from the looks of it. I’ve seen “Jaws” almost a thousand times, it’s one of the first horror movies I’ve ever seen, one of the first movies I’ve ever seen, I’ve owned its VHS editions, DVD editions, and goddamn if it isn’t still a hell of a horror flick.
“The Shark is Still Working” is an extensive and comprehensive glimpse in to the making and the legacy of “Jaws” that features interviews with Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider (who narrates), Sid Sheinberg, Carl Gottlieb, Percy Rodrigues, Lorraine Gary, John Williams, and Peter Benchley to only name a few, as well as fans like Robert Rodriguez, Bryan Singer, Kevin Smith, Tom Savini, and the boys at KNB.
As you can tell the crew of “The Shark…” didn’t just slap a montage together and discuss their favorite parts of each film. And why this doesn’t have distribution just yet, I’m probably never going to understand; the reason for that is because “The Shark is Still Working” is a spectacular craft of love from fans, and the best “Jaws” chronicle I’ve ever seen, bar none.
Though there are times where it speaks of facts any Spielberg fan doesn’t already know, the team are able to obtain much new insight into the films production, as well as featuring insight from almost the entire cast. There’s even a wonderful interview with John Williams who explains Spielberg’s mix of disappointment and optimism at the two note score for his film. “Jaws” was a gamble for the studios, a sheer catastrophe of filmmaking that translated into a horrifying piece of nature run amok.
But beyond that, the team also explores the sequels. Ah, the sequels, the inferior follow-ups that was really nothing but cash-ins and poorly acted farces. Scheider explains his contractual obligations to star in “Jaws 2” but sadly, the film team never explains Spielberg being approached for the sequel, as well as his rejected ideas for the film that led to the poor follow-up. But, The team gladly never glosses over the actor’s disappointments, or the facts that they were indeed clunky and nonsensical.
But the most compelling material in “The Shark is Still Working” is just the reactions from fans be they filmmakers, film contributors, and just hardcore fans, period. “The Shark is Still Working” gives us views from every spectrum of the movie world, and even shows the legacy of knock-offs that immediately followed. Not to mention fans of the film recollect their favorite scenes creating the film’s best moments including Bryan Singer’s charismatic reaction to Quint having his legs bitten off, as well as Spielberg recalling, in a rather fantastic anecdote, being confronted by an angry mom who ordered him to assure her hysterical child that the water was safe to go into.
The team’s research and production are simply top-notch, and this simply has to be seen by anyone who considers themselves a film fan, period. No stone is left unturned, no person neglected, and it’s simply a hell of a good time with a lively energy and facts that even I wasn’t aware of. Beyond it all, “Jaws” is still a timeless horror classic and still the best nature run amok flick after “The Birds” and “The Shark is Still Working” is a fantastic exploration of the movie that started it all. Hear that studios? It’s still timeless! Leave it alone!
F**k it, I’m re-watching “Jaws.”
Smile, you son of a…