Jaws: The Revenge ~ 1987, Joseph Sargent, USA
In 1975, Universal Studios unleashed Jaws, a film which is almost universally regarded by historians to be the first ever legitimate Hollywood Blockbuster. To call this movie a success would be an understatement, Jaws was a phenomenon. It broke records, made Steven Spielberg a household name, and forever changed the nature of the Motion Picture Industry (arguably for the worse). Today, even the most obstinate of film snobs will likely concede that Jaws is, indeed, a true American classic.
Really, that would have been an excellent place to stop…
But, of course… They kept going. By 1987, we were four movies deep, and so far down the rabbit hole that even plain old common sense was a long forgotten relic of a better time. Jaws: The Revenge is such a terrible sequel that is ended the franchise dead in it’s tracks and remains an embarrassment to this day. This thing freaking sucks.
THE PLOT~ Lorraine Gary returns as ELLEN BRODY; the wife of Roy Scheider’s character from Jaws 1 & 2. In Jaws: THE REVENGE, Ellen becomes convinced that a great white shark has targeted her family for revenge, AND SHE’S FREAKING RIGHT. We learn early on that Mr. Brody is, at this point, long deceased, having died of a shark related heart attack sometime after Jaws 2. Next in line was their youngest son, who is murderously gobbled to death in an inadvertently hilarious sequence early on in the film. This is enough to seriously bum the Mother Brody out, and so her eldest son convinces her to come and visit his family in the Bahamas, where he is studying marine biology. She flips out, and tells him “ain’t no way no son of mine is going into the ocean, because Jaws Jr. is comin’, and he wants all of us Brodys dead!” So then, her son is all “listen, mom, sharks don’t go to the Bahamas, ever, because it’s too warm. They don’t like it.” This calms her down, and for a while she even manages to put her crippling shark phobia aside, partially because she’s super distracted by Michael Caine, who plays a charming English pilot/compulsive gambler who is also bumming around the Bahamas. Things seems dandy, for a time, but Ellen was wrong to let her guard down- because check it out, Jaws Jr. shows up after all, and he’s eager to munch down some Brodys. Literally, that’s the story… So, it’s like a multi-generational family fued at this point, kinda like the Hatfields and the McCoys… Only… it’s the Brodys, and a bunch of freaking sharks.
Obviously, these are all just horrible, horrible ideas.
The production itself isn’t really an issue in Jaws: the Revenge, that aspect of the film is competent (although if you thought the shark looked fake back in the original, holy shit, buckle up, folks), it’s the film’s premise that kills it. This movie is a collection of ideas so blatantly, obviously, obnoxiously terrible that it’s kind of amazing it even exists at all. How mindlessly, voraciously hungry for money could Universal have possibly been?!?
The following is a list of jaw dropping bullshit you will see if you ever make the tragically poor decision to give Jaws: The Revenge 90 minutes of your life:
1. Firstly, yes, this shark has a personal vendetta against the Brody family, it follows them from Amity to the Bahamas, and strategically seeks them out, for the purpose of murdering them… Presumably for vengeance. How does it know where they are? Magic. For real.
2. On a boat? Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re any more protected from Shark-Death. That’s like a plate for Jaws Jr. Actually, you might be LESS safe than if you were just in the water, more than a few people manage to just flat out swim away from this damn fish, but he plucks folks off of boats like they were freaking snack platters.
3. Ellen Brody develops a psychic mind link to Jaws Jr., and can predict when he is going to strike, and also when he is near. I shit you not, that’s actually in the movie. If they had made a fifth Jaws film, and continued along this trajectory, it would be focused on Jaws Jr. being forced to join forces with Robo-Brody on an adventure back in time to stop aliens from stealing a giant crystal from the center of the Earth, but it also would be rendered unwatchable after the producers accidently destroyed the negatives by doing lines of cocaine off of them.
4. This shark screams like a dragon when it’s in pain. I’m no marine biologist, but I’m pretty sure sharks can’t roar. Am I wrong? It feels stupid when it happens, I do know that.
5. Michael Caine, who is the only good thing in this movie, plays a character CALLED HOAGIE! And he survives. Yes, the character who is actually named after a sandwhich DOESN’T get eaten. So, what’s the deal with the name, is that like, a red herring or something?
6. At the end of the film, Ellen steers the boat directly into Jaws Jr., who, for some reason, fucking explodes- and not like a person would explode when hit by a train, he explodes like a damn grenade.
And much, much more.
Jaws: The Revenge defies basic logic at every turn, and it’s such an enormous jump from the tone of the original that I can’t believe it’s real. Based on the evidence available to me, I’m forced to conclude that this movie enterered production at the nexus of insatiable greed, and crippling mental illness. In this dark cauldron, the worst Jaws movie ever was forged, and it feels like the horrifying fever dream of a psychopath who grew up in a virtual reality environment, and who therefore never actually had to contend with the laws of the natural world. Unsurprisingly, it’s this same illogical, rambling mess of a narrative that makes this tragedy somehow more entertaining than Jaws 2 and 3, so in some sick, perverse way, I recommend this one over those two snooze-fests. Even so, this thing is flat out dangerous dangerous, and is not to be watched at all, unless you really have nothing left to live for. Jaws: The Revenge doesn’t just need to be forgotten, it needs to be quarantined.