Sunday, February 10, 2013


(June 1978, U.S.)

Let's start by taking a long, good look at this teaser poster for JAWS 2 (a poster that I own, by the way). Look at the rich orange color emanating from the sun into the sky and onto the water below. Look closely at the seemingly rough currents and the lonely, yet menacing shark fin that rises and coasts along with it. Read how the new film promises to be "ALL NEW" and that it will be hitting theaters this summer. Finally, read the film's tagline, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...,", which has become perhaps the most famous tagline in film history, parodied and homaged ever since we first heard it. I ask you all to go through this silly exercise to try and give you an idea of what fans of the original JAWS very likely experienced with the promise of more shark terror, more shark fun and a return to the village of Amity (though much of the beach sequences were filmed in Florida) and the characters they came to know three years prior. This is what fans were promised, anyway. Whether they truly got it or not depends solely on the viewer's perspective.

So, let's address the real big question right away. Is JAWS 2 as scary as the original JAWS? Of course not! Is it as much fun to watch as the original? Not really. Did it gross as much money as the original? Not likely. Is JAWS 2 a completely disasterous sequel? No, not at all (that honor we can give to JAWS 3D and JAWS: THE REVENGE). Exactly how can one classify JAWS 2, then? Simply put, JAWS 2 may be considered an almost scientific exercise in Hollywood show business mediocrity for its time. In other words, not too great and not too bad, either. To it's credit, the first sequel of the franchise offers some exciting and original sequences such as the shark chasing the water skier, the shark getting burned by the flare gun, the shark attacking the harbor patrol marine helicopter and pulling it under the water, the beached killer whale with the enourmous shark bite taken out if it, and the shark's final demise by electrocution, which in some ways, outsoars the simple drama of the explosion of the first shark, in my opinion. These are all wonderful ideas, which unfortunately tend to fall short in their delivery. It's exciting to watch the shark fin get closer and closer to the water skier but it would have been deliciously enticing to watch this girl get hers with a lot more terrifying gore as opposed to the quick underwater camera shots that only provide the obvious implication that she's being torn to pieces. The same can be said for the helicopter pilot whom we don't see after the craft in pulled underwater (even the deleted DVD scene doesn't offer much more than the pilot struggling to stay alive). And while the characters of Matt Hooper and Quint (he's DEAD, actually!) are noticeably missed, the performances of our remaining characters Martin Brody (played again by Roy Scheider), Ellen Brody (played again by Lorraine Hamilton) and Larry Vaughan (played again by Murray Hamilton) are strong enough to hold the viewer's interest for one more round.

The credit for originating the teenage slasher film has continuously gone to John Carpenter for HALLOWEEN (1978). But when you really consider it, can we not give that honor (if you want to call it an HONOR) to JAWS 2 first? For its climactic sequences, we have a group of Amity-fun-loving teenagers who are caught in great peril when they become disabled and adrift in the middle of the ocean and are repeatedly stalked, manaced and even killed (killed without gore, though) by the great white shark, much in the same tradition that one would have bestowed to Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. You see? Teenage slasher film, except with shark teeth rather than butcher knives and machetes...or am I really reaching for shit here??

It's probably safe to say that JAWS 2 is a worthy sequel if you have the particular personal memories for it. For myself, it was 1978 and I was three years older since the previous film that my "stiff-as-boards" parents would not permit me to see. Despite the movie poster warning of "May be too intense for younger children" (a pre-cursor to the PG-13 rating to come years later), I was eleven years-old now and my parents decided to lighten up just a bit when JAWS 2 premiered at the neighborhood movie theater in Westhampton Beach, Long Island. So take a moment to try and picture the victorious joy an eleven year-old boy has when he's finally allowed to see a (semi) scary movie that takes place at the beach in a movie theater in a beach town. Perhaps you had to be there back in '78, but believe me when I tell you it's a memory that I hold onto to this day and it's also a reason I watch JAWS 2 every summer at my house at the beach. It's all about mood and memories, you see?

Finally, just to give you an idea that JAWS 2 was NOT as unpopular with fans as you might think, take a look at just some of the merchandise that was created following the film's release...

I own the novelization, the movie program, the trading cards and the above-mention teaser movie poster (pathetic, isn't it??).

Favorite line or dialogue:

Martin Brody: "But I'm telling you, and I'm telling everybody at this table that that's a shark! And I know what a shark looks like, because I've seen one up close! And you'd better do something about this one, because I don't intend to go through that hell again!"


  1. Fewer stories here. I remember reading the opening chapter of the novelization in the L.A. Times entertainment section before the film came out. I bought it and remember the mob sub-plot, the discovery by Brody of the first corpse. The internal motivation of a shark that had mated with Bruce, turned out to be little sharks. Most of that did not make the film.
    The tag line of the movie campaign stands right next to Alien, in terms of marketing brilliance. Too bad the movie does not. Your thoughts reflect mine. This is a commercial entertainment product, it does not embarrass but it does not inspire either. I can recall the director but at the moment, the only other film I remember he was responsible for was Supergirl. It is not an annual affair at our house but if we come across it my daughter does not scream and make me change the channel like when we stumble on Jaws the Revenge. Oh the humanity.

  2. The director's name is Jeannot Szwarc. Some of his other film credits include BUG (1976), SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1978) and SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE (1985). Looks like he's done nothing but television over the last decade.