Amity Island Welcomes You

I love the movie Jaws. I love it more than I love you. I just need you to know where you stand. You can buy me flowers and chocolates but you’re just not Jaws. Because Jaws is never not good.
Jaws is one of the movies I remember seeing as a child that actually scared me. My parents divorced when I was young and my mom lived in central NJ while my dad split his time between Staten Island and a condo on the Navesink River, which is basically the mainland side of Sandy Hook, NJ. I spent weekends there and, for a long time after seeing Jaws I was terrified to enter the water. This was despite the fact that I’m a really strong swimmer and that I wasn’t swimming in the open ocean. That is how much Jaws terrified me.
Then, I read about the Matawan Creek Shark Attacks of 1916 in an issue of Weird NJ and that just compounded my terror. Between July 1 and July 12, 1916, four people were killed and one were injured by sharks attacks. The first two attacks were in Beach Haven and Spring Lake along the Jersey coastline. The next attacks scared me, though, because they occurred in a brackish creek inland from the ocean. So, I have a history with Jaws, having grown up near where the attacks that inspired the book occurred.
But, golly, do I love this movie. I love that it’s 36-years-old and still manages to be scary.
Here are some of the methods that add to the terror. First, there’s John Williams’ iconic score. Is there anyone who doesn’t know the Jaws theme? The shark’s music is only used when the actual shark is around, never as a fake-out. This actually makes it pretty startling when the shark shows up later on without the music.
Then there’s the fact that we don’t see the shark for one hour. The first hour of the movie features monster-POV shots and people’s reaction to the shark but there’s no sighting of the actual shark.

The attacks are bloody and vicious but not really graphic. This one scene always struck me, though. It’s when Alex Kintner is attacked by the shark.

It’s hard to see from the screen cap but his body is shaken like a rag doll. When the viewer sees him being shaken, the only thought is what could be that strong.
Interestingly, there was supposed to be a lot more of the shark but there were technical difficulties with the mechanical shark. This would be a very different movie if we’d seen more of the shark and possibly, a less scary one.
Another aspect where this movie really works is the characterization. We end up really caring about the fates of Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfus), and Sam Quint (Robert Shaw).

The actors manage to create characters with distinct personalities that are able to clash with each other without being annoying.
My personal favorite is Quint and my goal in life is to interrupt a meeting the way he did with his nails on a chalk-board.

Really, he attains levels of badassery that few of us will ever reach. Plus, he survived the sinking of the U.S.S Indianapolis, another actual event mentioned in the movie.
Finally, there are actual scary moments! Like when Brody is chumming the water and the shark is RIGHT THERE. Or when Hooper is in the shark cage and the shark bends the fricken’ cage bars with its teeth. That scene is so claustrophobic and scary. And confirmed, according to the Mythbusters.
When I watched Jaws for this blog, it was probably the first time I ever saw it uncut. Before, I’d always seen it on TNT or TBS where I’m certain it was cut for time and/or content. So if you’re one of the three people left who haven’t actually seen Jaws you should really see it. At least so you can see the sequels, which are hilarious hot messes.

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About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1970's, creatures, eco-horror, thriller and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Amity Island Welcomes You

  1. Amiee says:

    This movie is such a favourite of my family. Whenever my black dog is in the water my brother will call out Pippit!

  2. FRC Ruben says:

    Amity means friendship

  3. Jaws is a good example of a happy miracle of film making. The book was NOT that good. The director was still fairly untested. The damn shark wouldn’t work half the time. By all rights this should have been a fiasco forgotten by all but the MST3K crowd. But somehow, Speilberg pulled it together. Amazing really!

    Lazarus Lupin
    http://strangespanner.blogspot.com/
    art and review

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  6. chad says:

    Are you single? Lol I’m 31 and have loved jaws ever since I was 4 … hands down best movie ever made. I plan on attending jaws fest 2012. You should go! :) I promise I’m cute! Lol.

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  9. crazycanuck says:

    Jaws, I think I can honestly say cemented my love of horror films, at least the monster movie. This film is one of those that if I stumble upon, is watched til the end. The acting, the direction, the music, etc are amazing; thus why I’ve bought it-what three times now? The new blu-ray is gorgeous and totally worth the price(the docs alone are excellent), which I will watch again and again; hopefully when my kid’s a little older I can show her this true classic. My favorite part of the entire movie is when the drunken male bonding on the boat turns into Quint’s speech about the Indianapolis. Bloody terrifying and that opening kill, with the girl being thrashed around; just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water..

    • scarina says:

      “Jaws” is definitely one of the first horror movies I saw and it never stops amazing me.
      Do you have the edition with the documentary “The Shark is Still Working?” I don’t have an actual Blu-Ray player but I have an LG external disc drive and VLC and I’ve been looking at ways to get around that. I hate the idea of buying a new player when my DVD player is fine but some Blu-Ray releases have such awesome extra features. Siiiigh. At least Scream Factory usually does bundled DVD/Blu Ray releases.
      Quint’s speech, man. It’s just amazing. I like to tell my friends they have lifeless black eyes, like a doll’s, because I’m a pleasant human being.
      I *still* think about “Jaws” when I swim at my dad’s house. There were seals recently spotted in the bay and I was all, “Oh shit, seals mean sharks.” I still swim, though.
      And you have to show this to your kid when they’re old enough.

  10. crazycanuck says:

    It’s hard not to think of this when swimming, except maybe at the local pool. Yes, i chucked out 10 bucks for the new blu-ray with “The Shark is Still Working” on it, along with “Blade Runner” and “Apocalypse Now” on Blu(sorry, non-horror..aarrghhh!). Funny, thinking back on this,my mom didn’t let me see “Jaws” when it first came out. Amazing how bad I wanted to see it and was not disappointed when I did.

    • scarina says:

      Yeah, Jaws is in the back of my head when I swim in the ocean and, oddly enough, Jason is in the back of my head when I swim in any lake.
      LoL I’ll watch pretty much anything, my movie collection is oddly diverse.
      Niiiice. The only movie my mom wouldn’t let me see was The Exorcist. She wouldn’t let me watch it until after I read the book, so I saw it (on VHS) around the time I was 15.

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