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The Brodys Should Have Left Amity – How Jaws Lost Its Bite

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Novelist Scott Sigler’s horror column appears every Thursday.

Sharks = Horror. It’s a simple formula. You don’t even need a cheat sheet. When that formula hit in 1975, multiplied by the square root of Steven Spielberg’s directing against the coefficient of Peter Benchley’s novel, with Roy Scheider to the tenth power and … okay, my math analogy is breaking down. Let’s go back to the basics:

Sharks = Horror.

So what the heck happened to this franchise? When Jaws hit the theaters in 1975, it scared the collective living crap out of an entire country. The movie defined a new genre, set a new standard for cinematic terror, and even introduced the concept that, yes, two notes from a tuba could make your stomach clench. The movie made people afraid to swim, even in areas that don’t have sharks. You know, places like lakes, ponds and bathtubs.

Jaws 2
With that kind of success for Jaws, you knew a sequel was on the way. Roy Scheider was back to reprise the lead role of Chief Martin Brody, (a.k.a, The Man to Whom No One Would Listen). Carl Gottlieb, who wrote the originals screenplay based on the Benchley novel, was back to pen the sequel. However, a key piece was missing from this magic formula — Spielberg. Who replaced him? Jeannot Szwarc? Too bad this plot doesn’t deviate far from the first. Yes, that’s right, it involves a giant shark off Amity. Now, if I’m Brody, and I live through that first flick, I’m loading up the car and moving to Death Valley. No swimming pools — no water at all, for that matter. Does Brody follow this eminently logical course of action? Nope. He keeps on keepin’ on in Amity. Not only does he stay, he lets his sons kick it in the ocean among scantily clad bikini babes (good) and, well, and killer sharks (not good). Truth be told, the whole Brody clan deserved to be eaten here to improve the gene pool.

Jaws 3-D
Nope,
I’m not making this up. It’s in 3D. If you’re a youngun’, this is so
worth your time. You know how when you find that three-week-old tuna in
the back of the fridge, and you open it up to see what it is, the
smell reaches down your nose and plays Rocky speed-bag-punch-workout on
your epiglottis? You have that reaction, and you turn to your friend
and say, “This is the worst thing I ever smelled — smell it.” Yeah,
I’m the guy with the green tuna, you’re the friend, trust me — Jaws 3D is a
must see.

This one was so bad that not only was Spielberg nowhere
to be seen, Scheider headed for dry land as well. So without Chief
Brody, who carries on the Brody Idiot Gene? Why, Brody’s two sons, of
course! Wait, I know what you’re asking, the same sons that were in
imminent danger in Jaws 2? Yes, those sons. Hey, at least they
got out of Amity, and that’s good, right? This one goes down at
Sea World. Hmm… maybe more terror in Amity wouldn’t be such a
bad thing.

Jaws: The Revenge
OK, Chief Brody is gone, his sons have moved out of Amity, so now
there’s a new family to find creatively stupid ways not to get
out of the water, right? Unfortunately, no. Jaws: The Revenge
reintroduces us to the character of Ellen Brody, the Chief’s wife, who
still lives in Amity with Sean, one of the Dumb Brody Brothers.
While this isn’t the best screenplay in the world, at least the writers
finally brought home a wee bit of logic — one of the Brody Bros. dies,
at the hands of a giant shark. (They should have listened to me and
done the Death Valley thing.)

Jaws: The Revenge is bad. Michael Caine can’t even save it (and let’s just keep it between us that Caine did this stinker, okay?). It does, however, takes the cake for the most nutty way to kill a shark.
Like, ever. And that includes making it eat a big tank of compressed
oxygen and blowing it sky high. Spoiler alert! They get the shark to
jump out of the water, repeatedly, and then run into it with the prow
of a sailing boat. Woo-hoo!! Let’s see the creative killers from the Scream series top that one for originality!

The Jaws
series is definitely not worth a full-set DVD purchase. Unless maybe
it’s in a cool tin box that looks like a shark, then, maybe. It’s not a
keeper, but its worth a marathon session. And to be honest, the first
movie is so good you may watch the other three just to pay homage.

scott75.jpgScott Sigler writes tales of hard-science horror, then gives them away as free audiobooks at www.scottsigler.com. His hardcover debut Infected is available in stores now. If
you don’t agree with what Scott says in this blog, please email him
scott@scottsigler.com. Please include all relevant personal
information, such as your address and what times you are not home, in
case Scott wishes to send someone to “discuss” your opinions.

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