Monday, June 22, 2015

40 Years of "JAWS"

It's the movie that made you afraid to go in the water.

It's the movie that made Steven Spielberg a household name.

It's the movie that pretty much created summer blockbusters as we know them.

It's motherfucking "JAWS".

What would otherwise be a simple-minded B-movie became a global phenomenon and altered the course of filmmaking as a whole. "JAWS" at its core is a monster movie through and through, only with a real monster. No otherworldly alien or rampaging beast created through radiation or some shit, "JAWS" is man versus chaotic nature in the form of one of the greatest natural predators in recorded human history.

I first saw "JAWS" as a kid, like most (if not all) of people from my generation. Its bloodletting and suspense may be tame by today's standards, but for me back then? Holy fucking shit. I was scared shitless and afraid to go near water, so much so I wouldn't even go near my toilet. Granted I was pissing and shitting myself constantly, but that's a story for another day.

Throughout its 40 year legacy, "JAWS" spawned some really shitty sequels and hordes of merchandise and video games (I beat that piece of shit NES game years back), but ignoring all of that, think of the film in its most simple terms. To do that, and I might be talking out of my ass here since I wasn't alive at the time the film was originally released, think of the climate of horror/suspense/thriller/monster films of the time:

There were years upon years of dude in a rubber suit-type monster movies stumbling through theaters seemingly since the dawn of film. Most of these were low-budget schlock that delivered what fans wanted the most: blood, gore, and boobs. They were successful, and that was all well and good. Then out of nowhere, "JAWS" appeared on the screen and changed a lot of things forever...and it made a fuck-ton of money in the process.

Besides the timeless "man versus nature/animal" theme of "JAWS", what really set it apart from other films of the type was the characterizations of our three leads: Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider), marine scientist Hooper (Richard Dreyfus), and grizzled fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw). The true highlight of "JAWS" for me personally wasn't the blood and suspense and believable terror; it's that scene of all three guys bullshitting and talking on the boat over a few beers. Quint's super memorable monologue of his chilling past experience with sharks will send chills down your spine...seriously.

Chances are you know what I'm talking about and you're reading shit you already fucking know. If for some reason you've never seen "JAWS"...well, what the fuck is wrong with you??? It's a truly perfect film from beginning to end. And to this very day, the final confrontation between Brody and the shark is one of, if not the, greatest showdowns in the history of film.

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