4 Dumb 'Jaws' Ripoffs That Somehow Exist
When Jaws came out in 1975 and became the highest-grossing film of all time ("all time" meaning "until two years later"), different people took very different lessons from its success. Some said "let's give this Spielberg kid more work," some said "let's distill this 'crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster' thing into a formula that will make us exceedingly rich and eventually marginalize all other types of cinema" ... and others said "haha, watching animals kill people RULES." Here are the dumbest films made by the latter group:
Mako: The Jaws of Death -- Jaws With Psychic Powers
Mako: The Jaws of Death is classified as a Jaws ripoff since it was released only one year after the original, also involves sharks eating a bunch of people, and, you know, has the word "Jaws" in the title. But the director insists that he came up with the idea when no one knew what the hell a "Spielberg" was, and in fact, once you watch it you find out it's more like an anti-Jaws. Instead of the shark killers being the heroes, they are the antagonists to the movie's main character, a loner who learns he has a psychic and emotional connection to sharks and uses it to help them hunt those who hunt them, like some sort of underwater Dexter.
Near the start of the movie, the protagonist is given a mystical medallion that makes it so sharks won't harm him. The stuntpeople working in this film could have probably used something like that since, as the trailer boasts, Mako was shot without the use of pansy-ass safety cages or mechanical sharks, although this was less due to artistic considerations and more because the producers just couldn't afford any of that stuff.
Instead, they used more cost effective safety techniques like tying ropes the sharks' tails or simply pulling out their teeth. That's seriously what they did before the scene where a shark bites an exotic dancer who was performing inside a water tank in the middle of a strip club, as one does -- a stunt, by the way, that only happened by accident.
According to the director, the shark they were using in that scene was supposed to be dead, so when his crew asked if they could take its teeth and use them to make necklaces or whatever, he said "sure." It was only once the shark started moving in the water tank and went for the stuntwoman's leg that they realized it had been alive all along (unless it was a zombie shark or some sort of shark Jesus). You can see that moment at 5:34 below; if you detect any yellow liquid around the stuntwoman's bathing suit area, that would be totally understandable.
After spending the whole movie defending sharks, the protagonist misplaces his protective medallion for like one minute and is instantly eaten alive by his friends, so apparently their "emotional connection" wasn't that strong. That, or the scene called for them to kiss the shark killer-killer all over his body to show their appreciation, but the fish actors got a little carried away.
Cruel Jaws -- A Frankenstein Made Out of Jaws Ripoffs (And Star Wars Music)
The 1995 Italian thriller Cruel Jaws, reportedly marketed as Jaws 5 wherever Universal Pictures' lawyers aren't looking, seems to ask the question, "What if the shark from Jaws was mean?" because the one in the original movie was such a sweetheart. In reality, this shark is exactly as cruel as the ones shown in the official series because, in many scenes, it's the exact same one.
Due to the producers having almost no budget and even less shame, much of the footage and plot points are taken directly from all four Jaws films. For instance, remember the classic moment in Jaws 2 when the shark causes a panicking woman to pour gasoline on herself and blow up her boat with a flare gun? Cruel Jaws blatantly reuses the shot of exploding boat in the scene where the same thing happens, only somehow 200% dumber.
Even the scenes that weren't stolen from Jaws manage to rip off the series in some way, like when the greedy mayor says, "We're gonna need a bigger
boat helicopter," while trying to hunt the shark from a chopper. (It doesn't go well for him.)
Now, we said that scene wasn't stolen from Jaws ... because they took it from another Italian Jaws ripoff called The Great White, though not many American filmgoers are likely to recognize it since Universal Pictures actually had that movie pulled from theaters in 1982.
Cruel Jaws even lifts an extended regatta sequence from The Great White's regatta-set climax, which itself was clearly inspired by Jaws 2's "sharks vs. sailboats" scenes. We are operating on ripoff levels rarely seen by mankind here. Other scenes contain footage taken from 1977's Tentacles (Jaws but with a killer octopus) and 1989's Deep Blood (Jaws but ancient hoodoo spirits), while the soundtrack sounds like the composer, and we're using that term generously here, couldn't decide if he wanted to plagiarize Superman or Star Wars.
But hey, at least this movie delivers what it promised: you wanted something like Jaws? Here are some shots straight up stolen from Jaws. We can't say the same about ...
Jaws in Japan -- Not Very Jaws-Like (But Extremely Japan)
Jaws in Japan sounds like a remake where Hooper has a mecha and Quint is a pink-haired schoolgirl, but it's actually something even more inexplicable. Despite having Jaws in the title (at least until Universal forced them to change it to Psycho Shark), there isn't a whole lot of shark footage in it. We'd speculate that this is because the giant CGI shark was so expensive to animate that they could only afford a few minutes, but looking at the movie we'd be surprised if they paid more than $50.
The movie is actually about two Japanese co-eds going on an island vacation in a weird hotel that hands everyone video cameras to film each other, which leads them to discovering a (non-shark) serial killer. Most of the scenes, as Wikipedia puts it, "consist of either the girls playing together in bikinis or of them examining materials that have been recorded." We can see why the filmmakers felt the need to go with a misleading title, though; who would watch a movie called Japanese Girls Playing Together In Bikinis?
Besides, pulling a bait and switch on Jaws ripoffs is actually a decades-old tradition. There's 1983's Col, which is also known as Turkish Jaws, despite the fact that the shark only appears briefly near the end, doesn't kill anyone, and swims away after being poked with a stick a couple of times, which is more than enough to poke a hole in its papier-mache skin. No one mentions it before or after that.
And then there's Tintorera, or as some of the posters put it ¡Tintorera!, a 1977 Mexican-British production that promises shark carnage in its trailer ...
... but is mostly about two dudes having sex with hot women in a Mexican resort, never finding out that their shared love interest got eaten by a shark while skinny dipping partway through the movie. Eventually, one of them is killed by a shark, and his friend vows to avenge him, only stopping his quest for revenge to go skinny dipping with four women while knowing there are vicious man-eating creatures down there (only one gets eaten, so overall it was a good experience). This is apparently one of Tarantino's favorite movies, which isn't that surprising since no one ever went skinny dipping with their socks on.
By the way, if you're thinking this is probably the most sex-filled Jaws ripoff ever: nope. Not by a long shot ...
Deep Jaws -- Deep Throat Meets Jaws
Despite being a terrible film in every possible sense, 1976's Deep Jaws is also the greatest Jaws ripoff movie, precisely because it's ABOUT Jaws ripoff movies. The movie is about Uranus Studios, a once-successful movie studio reduced to making low-budget films that decides to plagiarize Jaws AND Deep Throat to survive. Somehow, they end up getting a million dollars from Henry Kissinger to produce a "simulated version of the Russian-American outer space hook-up," whatever that means. Instead, they decide to make a cheap mermaid porno possibly involving a homosexual shark.
Sound intriguing? Unfortunately, this is about all we can show you from this movie:
Basically, this is a biting satire of the shamelessly unoriginal studios that turned "ripping off Jaws" into a whole genre of movies, which is impressive considering it was made before almost all of those movies. Truly, an essential part of movie history. (But seriously, don't watch it, it sucks.)
Follow Maxwell Yezpitelok's heroic effort to read and comment on every '90s Superman comic at Superman86to99.tumblr.com.
Top image: Severin Films, Gourmet Video Collection