Jaws the Revenge: This Time It’s Ridiculous

Imagine someone were to blow you up. Next they electrocute you. Then blow you up again in 3D. Do you think you would hold a grudge? I think you would probably be mildly upset. Probably upset enough to plan some sort of revenge?

The shark in Jaws the Revenge is something special. It is able to lay traps, call the coastguard, roar and travel thousands of miles in a short time.

The story (if you dare refer to it as that and not something you expect to be found written in faeces on a lunatic’s prison cell wall) centres around the Brody family once again. Ellen (Lorraine Gary) is mourning the death of Martin (Roy Scheider) who has shuffled off this mortal coil having died of a heart attack, which Ellen blames on the long dead twin shark menace of the first and second film, never mind the fact that he smoked and drank. The children are now all grown up and Sean is a police deputy in Amity, while Michael (Lance Guest) is now living in the Bahamas as a marine biologist. Sean and his fiancé Tiffany are to be married and with Christmas approaching, life is looking a bed of roses for the Brody family.

Sean checks in at work and is told that a big log needs to be cleared from a buoy in the harbour. He sensibly asks why the Coastguard haven’t been asked to do it, in answer to which he is told that they have been called out on an emergency. Sean goes down to the harbour to clear the log menace and is attacked and killed by the shark that is lying in wait for him. This scene only leads you to believe that the shark has not only laid a trap with a log and waited for its pray but also called the Coastguard out on a spurious errand. This is the kind of thinking this film wants us to do.

After Sean’s death, Ellen Brody decides the best thing to do is to go to the Bahamas and stay with her other son Micheal. The only problem is that our friend the super shark decides to follow her – quite how it knows where she is going is anyone’s guess, but it soon arrives and begins to cause further havoc.
The most amazing thing about this film is that Michael Caine (now Sir Michael Caine) agreed to appear in it as the “carefree airplane pilot” Hoagie. This only serves to evidence that Caine, during his period of appearing in films such as The Swarm (about killer bees), The Hand and Escape to Victory did not read the scripts he was given and obviously paid no attention to the titles. About Jaws the Revenge Caine would later say, “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific”.  The sad thing about Caine appearing in this film is that while he was on location in the Bahamas he won an academy award for his part in the Woody Allen comedy Hannah and Her Sistersand he was unable to attend to receive it. In his 1992 autobiography What’s it All About?, he says that the film “will go down in my memory as the time when I won an Oscar, paid for a house and had a great holiday. Not bad for a flop movie”.

How this film ever got made is a mystery that will probably never be solved. It is understandable that the studio wanted to carry the franchise on, but after the disappointing Jaws 3D, this was never going to be the answer. A film that if you pitch it to yourself out-loud makes you feel that you are a only a stone’s throw away from a straight jacket. A shark (a sea dwelling animal) seeks revenge on a family (a land dwelling family) and follows one of them to the Bahamas for “revenge”.

The reasons for the revenge are unclear and never explored. In fact, the word “revenge” is only mentioned in the title of the film. Is this revenge for the previous three sharks that have died? Is this a relation to the other sharks? Where do we find answers to this problem? Well, the novelization suggests that the shark may be acting under the influence of a vengeful voodoo witch doctor (who has a feud with the Brody family), and the shark’s apparent revenge has magical implications, therefore the witch doctor is the one getting ‘revenge’ and the shark is his tool. Having seen the previous Jaws films, it is difficult to imagine exactly when the Brody family would have even met a witch doctor, never mind wronged one. Perhaps somewhere, hidden in a vault, is a deleted scene from the first Jaws in which Martin Brody pisses off a witch doctor by telling him the beach is closed.

Some say this theory explains the “psychic connection” Ellen and the shark seem to have with each other as there is one point in the theatrical version in which Michael Brody says: “Come on, sharks don’t commit murder. Tell me you don’t believe in that voodoo.”  The truth of course is that those theories are obviously bull shit and this is just a case of plain awful script writing.

The film limps on once the shark arrives in the Bahamas and takes some terrible liberties, even reproducing the classic scene from the first film in which the child mimics every facial move that Martin makes (interspersed with sepia shots from the original scene in the 1975). Hoagie (Caine) and Ellen go through the motions with the forced affection they are supposed to feel for one another and Michael (Lance Guest) does his best to seem full of angst, but just looks like he needs to go to the toilet, while he and his annoying cod-Jamaican colleague Jake (Mario Van Peebles) try to find a way to study this rogue shark without letting on to his mother that they have seen it. When the scares arrive they are so telegraphed you can see them coming a mile off, and at most points during the film when the shark is on screen you can literally see the joins and the machine driving it.

There is also the (spolier alert) controversial ending. In the ending that was originally filmed, Ellen rams the shark with Michael’s boat, mortally wounding it. The shark then causes the boat to break apart with its death contortions, forcing the people on the boat to jump off to avoid going down with it. Test audiences disapproved of this ending. It was reshot with the shark getting stabbed with the bow sprit and exploding for no apparent reason. This was also inter-cut with more sepia footage from the first film of Martin shooting the first shark, perhaps in the vague hope that you would see the clips from the first film and associate this one with it, leading you to suddenly (and inaccurately) believe it is good.

It was actually the reshooting of the ending that prevented Michael Caine from collecting his Academy Award.

At the time of the reshoot, the budget was very nearly all gone, therefore the effects guys had to cut a few corners (and that is putting it mildly). The end result is something that could be achieved with lollypop sticks, sticky-tape, a plastic Jaws and some Ribena. The less said about the fact that the shark actually roars the better really.

The film went on to receive the award for “Worst Special Visual Effects” (Henry Millar), at the 1987 Golden Raspberry Awards, and was nominated for six others including worst picture, director, actor (“Bruce the shark”), actress (Gary), supporting actor (Caine), and screenplay.

Jaws the Revenge is the ultimate example of a film franchise nosediving and committing suicide before your very eyes. The only equivalent would be a famous band coming back to do a new album and then setting themselves on fire during the first song. The end result is a living, breathing fat pay cheque combined with a nice holiday in the Caribbean, thank you very much.

This time, it’s personal? I would say the more apt tagline would be “This time, it’s business”.

Originally posted 2012-04-10 19:53:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Read and post comments on this article