Cruel Jaws (1995)
1995. Italy. Dir. Bruno Mattei
Have you ever watched Jaws and thought, ‘Hey, this is good, but what if Hulk Hogan was in the lead role?’
Well stop the press, because you’ve just hit the bad movie jackpot. What we have here is a film that not only rips-off Jaws, Jaws 2 and The Last Shark (itself a Jaws rip-off!), but that also casts a Hulkster lookalike and expects no-one to bat an eyelid.
Hey, it was 1995. Wrestling was at the peak of its popularity, which explains why everyone in the cast looks like they’re waiting for their shot at the WWF Championship. Check out these lunkheads, who look like a bargain-bin version of The Rockers.
But what of the movie, I hear you ask?
Well, you’ve seen Jaws, right?
It’s that. It’s Jaws. The plot, entire sequences, sometimes even dialogue, word-for-word. The scenes are often jumbled out of order, which is either a clever way to try and trick viewers into thinking this is an original movie, or due to the writers having not seen Jaws for years and forgetting what happened when.
The film opens in typically incomprehensible fashion, with divers either trapped in a cave, or the shark trapped in a cave, I couldn’t figure it out. Before we really know what’s happening, the film cuts away, a maddening technique employed throughout the movie, perhaps to speed up the running time?
We smash-cut to two bozos in a camper van. The dude, who will be taking on the Richard Dreyfuss role, promises his girlfriend a weekend of “Sailing, tennis and disco-ing til dawn”, but not before they visit Hulk Hogan and his daughter in their failing water-park. Hulk’s daughter is in a wheelchair, in the first of an endless series of bizarre sub-plots, some of which involve the mafia, I think.
There’s a greedy land-developer, a mayor who won’t close the beaches, the mayor’s daughter who fancies a kid from the wrong side of the tracks, a sailing competition that might be able to save the water-park, etc etc.
Soon, corpses start washing up on the beach, and the mayor’s son (who wears sleeveless denim shirts and harem pants) and his girlfriend find one of them. Their reaction of mild distaste is priceless.
In the first (only?) big twist, we learn that it’s a tiger shark and not a great white, which is somewhat at odds with the endless stock footage of great white sharks, but hey, I’m not an oceanologist, so what do I know?
Then comes a terrific five-minute sequence shot day-for-night, in which all of the characters are silhouettes and I literally had no idea who was who or what was happening.
This is followed by my favourite scene, in which our hero’s girlfriend goes to a party with a scarf wrapped round her chest (“They’re gonna die when they see you dressed like this” lies her friend).
There’s a weird bit where she hooks up with one of the wrestlers and they head off to the beach, where she strips down to a thong and they fool around in the sea. They do not get eaten by a shark, and the whole thing is fabulously pointless. Later, the shark gets her (I think anyway, the scene cuts away too early), but we never find out if she told her boyfriend about her midnight canoodle.
God, I promised myself I would never watch another Bruno Mattei movie after suffering through his Cannibal Holocaust “sequels”, and yet somehow here we are again, staring at poorly shot, poorly lit sequences surrounded by footage straight-up stolen from Jaws. Not content with that, Mattei also employs a poorly-done rewrite of the Star Wars theme as the rousing music for the climax.
He’s shameless, and I have to respect that. I do not, however, have to respect the special effects.
Take a look at this startled-looking fella.
You alright there, big guy? DM me, hun.
It’s all mildly entertaining in an I-can’t -believe-this sorta way, but then the last half-hour is a total wash-out, and ends with the mayor being pushed into a swimming pool by a seal. See? Jaws didn’t have that.
Did I mention it took three people to write this screenplay? That’s them above, the guy on the right scanning the horizon for an original idea, while the middle dude holds Spielberg’s lawyers at bay with a shotgun.
This film is hard to find these days. Scream Factory announced a Blu-ray release a while back, then shelved it when they realised it incorporated actual footage from Jaws and Jaws 2. To be honest, I think they did us all a favour.
David Sodergren lives in Scotland with his wife Heather and his best friend, Boris the Pug. Growing up, he was the kind of kid who collected rubber skeletons and lived for horror movies.
Not much has changed since then.
His first novel, The Forgotten Island, was published on October 1st 2018 to critical acclaim. Up next is Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle has just recently been released.
He has several more books in various stages of development.
You can follow David on Twitter @paperbacksnpugs
To find out more about David please visit his official website www.paperbacksandpugs.wordpress.com
Find David on Instagram here
A group of desperate student filmmakers break into Crawford Manor for an unauthorised night shoot. They have no choice. Their lead actress has quit. They’re out of time. They’re out of money.
They’re out of luck.
For Crawford Manor has a past that won’t stay dead, and the crew are about to come face-to-face with the hideous secret that stalks the halls.
Will anyone survive…the NIGHT SHOOT?
A delirious homage to the slasher movies of the 1980s, Night Shoot delivers page after page of white-knuckle terror.