Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
Bruno Mattei — the man, the myth, the legend — is famous for ripping off popular culture and attempting to pass off similar concepts as his own inspired works. I’m looking at you broke version of Predator known as Robowar! Hell of the Living Dead mirrors Dawn of the Dead and then of course there’s Shocking Dark, aka Terminator 2 before there was an actual Terminator 2: Judgement Day. And then of course, there’s his ripoff of Jaws, I’m talking of course about Cruel Jaws.
You have to give the Italian Ed Wood props. Mattei made the films that he wanted to create, and love them or hate them they have become a staple in B-cinema. Severin got brave and acquired the rights to Cruel Jaws, aka Jaws 5. Mattei crossed the line when he inserted footage from Jaws and Jaws 2. This didn’t sit well with Universal and they sued. He also borrowed footage from Italian shark flicks Great White and Deep Blood. Mix it all together and it’s sure to be a beautiful disaster-piece. What the hell have you done here Bruno Mattei?
The film takes place in a small seaside town named Hampton Bay. Did you know Hulk Hogan owned an aquarium before he pumped iron and became a famous wrestler? Well, that’s not true. However, Dag, who owns the aquarium could easily take top prize in a look alike contest, brother! Dag is in trouble as he is getting bullied by some mobsters looking to take over his property so they can capitalize on the location. An eviction notice has been served and he has 30 days to save his livelihood for himself and his paralyzed little girl.
While Dag is dealing with his dilemma, Hampton Bay is gearing up for the town’s annual Regatta. I always thought a Regatta had to do with boats, but in Hampton Bay it is all about the windsurfers and it’s a big money maker event. Of course, things go south when a 25 ft. killer Tiger Shark shows up and begins devouring the local residents.
The mayor wants to proceed with the celebrations, because you know how this story goes, we’re living with it today. Screw the credible threat, think of the economy! So, a bounty is issued for the shark and now it’s a free-for-all including Dag who sees this as a way to save his aquarium. Oh, did I forget to mention that the shark is insanely intelligent thanks to a bunch of government experiments? Yeah, we are swinging for the fences in Cruel Jaws!
I went in expecting this to be a huge disappointment. I already knew the movie was going to be bad. I pre-ordered it, watched the trailer, and immediately had buyer’s remorse. But there was no turning back now. Damn you, sexy limited edition slipcover! I was determined to see it through, and I am shocked to say that I am pleased that I did. Cruel Jaws is indeed terrible, but I enjoyed it and laughed my ass off.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the blu-ray came jam packed with some great special features:
- New Remaster of the fully uncut version of the film
- The Snyder Cut – Unreleased Japanese Extended Cut
- The Great White Way – A Study in Sharksploitation with Rebekah McKendry
- These Things Got Made! – Interview with actor Jay Colligan
- Exclusive Slipcover
Oh, the plagiarism! Where do I even start with this? The mayor is like Mayor Vaughn, the underwater park screams Jaws 3-D, I’m fairly sure there were mentions of mobsters in the Jaws novel and yet he doesn’t rip off Jaws the Revenge. The editing is atrocious. When the shark attacks it’s a blender of cuts with no clear conclusion most of the time. There are scenes that are supposed to be at night but are clearly darkened with a filter to portray a night time look. Mattei even rips off some of the Star Wars theme!
But the biggest gaffe is that the Tiger Shark is all footage of a great white and a toy shark! By now, I am sure you’re wondering how the hell I could possibly enjoy this. My only answer is that I don’t know! I appreciate balls out cinema that pulls no punches and you really can’t get much crazier than this film. This is Sharksploitation at its finest! Fins off to Severin!
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