Shark Spot - #1 – Why I love shark movies! – Shark Attack 
When I was a kid, probably somewhere between the age of 5 and 10, I stayed up late with my parents to watch JAWS. I was lying on the couch, under my mam’s furry multi-colored coat, my feet nestled in behind my dad at the other end of the couch. This was the mid 80’s and this was an EVENT!!! Nowadays, movies are on demand, streaming, on DVD or even just on the television a year or two after release. In the 80’s, it took years for a film to come out on video, and longer still for it to show up on telly. And crucially for young people of today to understand, if you missed a program, that was it, you’d missed it. There was no +1s, no endless repeats over the next week, or download services. You just missed it. If you were lucky, you had a VHS and could record it, but these were the relatively early days even of home video, at least for the not very well off.
Anyway, a big movie on TV was a huge event; you talked about it the next day at school, at work, in the streets. If you hadn’t seen it, in the street lingo of the day, you were a craphead, so, parents hopefully obliging, you did your best to watch it. And JAWS was amazing; JAWS scared me, right from the beginning, with its sploshing waves, buoys clanging at sea, the dangerous rising music score signposting the entrance of the huge shark. The shots of feet dangling and splashing in the water as an underwater camera circled in, closer, closer. A lone night-swimmer is dragged under the water, reappears, panics, screams, goes under; the shark has got her, and it got me too. It got me big time.
JAWS remains one of my favorite films; I have it on DVD. I have a T-shirt, a mug, a coaster, all bearing the brilliantly iconic image of the shark ready to strike on a helpless swimmer. Loads of scenes electrified me as a kid, and continue to do so to this day. When police chief Martin Brody is chumming the water and the shark looms hugely out of the water behind him; when scores of beachgoers run and swim for shore when the shark alarm goes up; when a severed head drifts by underwater in the sunken boat; when the shark is attacking Hooper in his inadequate-looking shark-cage; when Quint tells his story about the USS Indianapolis, and later when they are harpooning barrels of air into the shark to tire it out, and later still when Quint is crunched in two inside the creature’s giant jaws. The film is excellent, iconic, and my admiration of the film only grows every time I see it.
A couple of years later, a little bigger, I saw JAWS 2; again an event movie, a big deal, and I loved it. A bunch of kids, trapped at sea, by a huge and menacing shark. Great stuff. Every time that Jaws or Jaws 2 was on TV when I was a kid, I tried to watch it – in reality they were probably only on a couple of times each over a number of years, but it seemed to me that it was always an event, always a big thing. I lapped it up; I loved it.
Now, somewhere along the way, as I grew up and got into all kinds of horror movies and creature-features, monsters have always been one of my great loves, particularly, giant animal monsters, particularly, water-going creatures, like fish, snakes, octopi, crocodiles and most definitely sharks. In 1975 Jaws was about alone in the sub-genre; 40 years later, you can’t turn on the horror or syfy channels without coming across some kind of shark be it a Mega, a 3-Headed, a snow, zombie, ghost or avalanche variety, super, swampy, raging, in a tornado, attacking, or versus giant octopi or robotic predators. Sharks are everywhere, and I love ‘em. But, of course, some of the films are actually not really that good. So I’m gonna attempt to look at lots of sharky films and give my own completely-biased opinion on them. This project may take me a few months, or it may take forever. I’m betting on the latter. But one thing is probably certain; I’m gonna need a bigger blog....
Jawsome Shark Movie #1 --- SHARK ATTACK (1999)
Mostly, apart from the wave of JAWS imitators in the late 70’s and 80’s, the killer shark genre has been reasonably quiet until the 21st century. Just before then, and making a decent claim to be the beginning of low-budget shark-attack films is the Nu-Image TV movie SHARK ATTACK of 1999. The most notable thing about the film now, looking back, is that there is nothing particularly unnatural about the sharks; they are not mega or robotic or half-something-else. They are just normal-sized, albeit more aggressive creatures. It stars Casper Van Dien, fresh from his star role in STARSHIP TROOPERS as a marine biologist who goes to an African coastal town to investigate the mysterious death of his friend and former colleague. There he meets Jennifer McShane, his friend’s sister and they team up with a local taxi/boat guy to investigate why this little town is having more than its share of ferocious shark kills. Smooth-talking Ernie Hudson [most famously from GHOSTBUSTERS] is on hand as a local authority of some kind and businessman, and Bentley Mitchum is a scientist using the sharks in experiments to find a cure for cancer. The film is decent, although clearly is an evening TV Movie thriller and not at all a horror or monster film. It’s reasonably well-made and has a good story to it, though the script is sometimes a bit fishy, and van Dien’s acting is variable. The sharks themselves pop up quite a bit, there’s a variety of species, and the majority of them are real sharks, although largely made of stock footage or shots filmed somewhere completely different from where the actors were. Early on there’s an obvious studio tank shot where you can just about see the back of the set above the ‘ocean’. In general SHARK ATTACK isn’t bad, fairly tense at a couple of points, with a fair bit of normal-sized shark action. Sadly, it overstays it welcome by about ten minutes, and you’re ready for the cheesy ending and the credits when they come. If you can stand it, watch it on a double feature with its sequel and some beer.
Movie Rating:- 6/10
Shark Score:- 4
[Shark Score is based on several factors and is entirely unscientific and awarded by me. I base it on the amount of screen time the shark(s) has; its jawsomeness and originality; special-effects, and just generally how cool it is for shark-movie freaks like myself. 10 is the highest, 1 the lowest, but any film that gets a 1 cant really qualify as a shark film at all really.]