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5 Reasons the Worst Jaws Movie Is an Underrated Masterpiece

#2. The Fact That You Cannot Watch It in 3D Makes the Whole Movie Look Like a Schizophrenic Delusion

There are several shots in Jaws 3-D that were created with the glory of three-dimensional effects in mind, but since the 3D print of the film has never been available on home video, nobody has actually been able to see those effects for 30 years. Consequently, to watch Jaws 3-D is to be confronted by terrifying images that cannot be explained, like pointing a telescope out into the stars and seeing nothing but eyes and teeth. This is undoubtedly the type of bullshit that has been tap dancing behind Dennis Quaid's eyelids long enough to drive him over the edge.

For example, during the opening credits, a disembodied fish head floats toward the camera, slowly rotating through a swirling cloud of blood with its mouth opening and closing in mute reflex as the last of its motor functions burns out behind its dead eyes.


Seriously, we hit "play" less than two minutes ago, and here comes this heat-seeking incubus.

Again, this is during the opening credits -- the movie hasn't even started yet, and the first thing you see is a massacred fish face hovering toward you like some hideous fucking death talisman. It looks like an undead planetoid coming to whisper a Victorian lullaby in your mother's voice. If you blink rapidly while it is on screen, you will see grainy Kinetoscope footage of your own funeral playing behind your eyelids. It would not look out of place wearing a bear costume and blowing some dude in a ghoul-infested Colorado hotel room. And it hangs there in space for 25 seconds, daring you to look away.

Later, when the shark claims its first victim, we are treated to 10 seconds of a raggedly severed human arm, ripped mid-flex from a dude with permed hair and a mustache, drifting silently through the ocean like the Red October. It's as if the "rejected" bin from an organ harvester's cigarette boat accidentally spilled into the Atlantic and we're being forced to retrieve it.

The climax of Jaws 3-D features a palsy-stricken ultrashark gliding motionlessly toward the camera, which then bursts into a storm of glass that catapults outward in slow motion like shards of a forgotten nightmare. It's like a puppet show interpretation of the exact moment when a person goes insane.

The film's final two minutes are eerily similar to its opening, as we find ourselves staring into the blood-gouting center of a bone shrapnel meat explosion immediately following the sudden and violent death of a fish.

Without the benefit of 3D effects, Jaws 3-D just looks like the screaming echoes of vengeful madness. It's a 90-minute kaleidoscope of pure fucking chaos. Anyone with these images honeycombing through their mind like hungry termites would almost certainly start murdering their co-workers and blame it on a mythological hypershark.

Regardless of whether the film should really be called Dennis Quaid 3-D instead of Jaws 3-D, one thing remains perfectly clear ...

#1. The Entire Movie Is an Allegory for Claustrophobia

To those of you who have read this far and still think Jaws 3-D is just a B-list gimmick picture about a biblically massive shark eating minimum wage workers in Orlando, prepare to have your minds blown straight into outer space -- it is actually a B-list gimmick picture about the intense psychological trauma of claustrophobia. The shark (if it exists), Dennis Quaid, and the body count are incidental -- it's Sea World that's truly killing everyone.

Check it out -- every person who gets killed by the shark is trapped in a small enclosed area. Magnum P.I. is fumbling with the lock on an underwater cage when he gets beefed:

To be fair, he is actually on the outside of the cage making sure the door is secure, but the visual implication is clear -- he's trapped, and the only way out is through the shark's anus.

Later, when Louis Gossett Jr. has to make Sophie's Choice in an underwater death chamber roughly the size of a studio apartment, two-thirds of the room is occupied by a biting shark face. There is literally no place for his doomed nephew to go, so the poor bastard can only sit there like a cocktail olive until the shark finally annihilates him.

The Crocodile Hunter is crushed to death inside the shark's mouth -- a suffocating tomb that closes in around him as he frantically tries to crawl out toward the light.


This is seriously one of the most conceptually disturbing death scenes in the history of film.

Even the shark itself is a massive ocean beast stuck within the entirely-too-small enclosures of Sea World. Every shot you see of it is like some bizarre taphephobic nightmare:

When the shark attacks the Undersea Kingdom exhibit, a submerged network of viewing tunnels loaded with hundreds of tourists, it is unquestionably a result of hulking fish rage brought on by claustrophobic hysteria. The Undersea Kingdom begins to flood and the exits seal up before everyone can get out, locking dozens of people inside a tiny underwater chamber. They can do nothing but watch helplessly as the shark continues its freakout and the room relentlessly fills with seawater.

That's meant to be us, the audience, trapped together in a freezing, lightless theater while this shitty movie drowns us. So really, nobody -- not you, me, Dennis Quaid, or the shark -- is truly safe.


If we're role playing this, I call dibs on the guy in the Panama Jack hat.


Tom was originally filmed in 3D, but is available in 2D in select markets. Read his novel Stitches and follow him on Twitter.

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