About Christmas TV History

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

The tagline "This time it's personal" accurately describes this unbelievable plot.
I'm continuing my month-long series of blog posts, Countdown to Halloween, discussing Halloween-appropriate and Christmas crossover entertainments.  Another horror film set at Christmas time is 1987's Jaws: The Revenge, the fourth installment in the deadly great white shark film franchise.

1975's film Jaws directed by Steven Spielberg, the first in this horror/thriller series is actually one of my all-time favorite horror films.  I wrote my reaction to that film in a profile I did on the horror website Kindertrauma this past year.  Click HERE to see that profile again.  Though Jaws: The Revenge comes nowhere near the terror-inducing effectiveness of the first film, it may still be interesting to watch for the ridiculous plot, the famous cast--and because its story is set over the Christmas holidays.

Reaching over the water, Sean's arm is taken by the shark.  Then the shark knocks him out of the boat and Sean's cries for help can not heard over the carolers rehearsing "The First Noel."

Jaws: The Revenge begins with Brody's now grown son Sean, who also works for the Amity police department,  attacked and eaten by a shark.  Brody’s widow Ellen, still played by the same actress Lorraine Gary, feels certain the great white shark that killed Sean is purposefully coming after the whole family out of revenge.

When the shark attacks the banana boat carrying Michael's young daughter (in pink), the marine biologist knows the shark has a taste for Brody flesh.  Though here you can see the shark clearly attacks someone else!?

Oldest son Michael is now a PhD student living in the Bahamas studying various sea life on the ocean floor.  At his brother Sean’s funeral, Michael dismisses his mother’s claims that the shark is hunting the family, citing the impossibility that an animal would be motivated by personal revenge.  However when the great white shows up in the warm waters off the coast of the islands where he works, Michael begins to believe that this shark is a threat.

Though it has a stupid plot, this film's underwater scenes are exciting.

I also love the little one-man submarine Michael and his partner Jake use for their underwater research.  Didn't I see something like this in a James Bond film once?

It is never discussed in the movie why THIS particular shark would want revenge on the Brody family--since every deadly shark in the previous three films is killed in the end.  Does this great white want revenge on behalf of his species?  Did this shark personally know the previous great whites killed by the Brodys? Do I need to spell out any further why this plot is ridiculous? 

The shark goes after the airplane that buzzed the boat he was attacking. (sigh)
The end is not very satisfying either.  It's not very clear what happens but it seems like a freak accident allows the shark to be punctured by a broken wooden beam protruding from the front of the boat which causes an electronic device inside the shark to explode.   At least the movie is over.


This horrible film has several notable actors: Michael Caine stars as Hoagie, the roguish airplane pilot with whom Ellen has fallen in love; Mario Van Peebles stars as Jake, Michael’s research partner; Lynn Whitfield plays Louisa, Jake’s wife; and, if you pay close attention you can spot Melvin Van Peebles, the ground-breaking filmmaker and real-life father to Mario as the Mayor of Nassau, Mr. Witherspoon.  The cast also includes Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody, Lance Guest as Michael, Karen Young as Carla, and Mitchell Anderson as Sean.  I remember actress Karen Young from her role as one of the reoccurring FBI agents on The Sopranos.

Michael Caine plays Ellen's boyfriend, an airplane pilot.  Though the shark comes after him, he survives.  However,  a part of me thinks it may have been cooler for his resumé (and for viewers) if Caine had been eaten by the shark!

I CAN NOT be the only one who wants to see Jake--with the terrible Jamaican accent--eaten by the shark!

This story takes place at Christmas time and continues over the New Year’s holiday.  At the movie’s beginning, Sean is attacked and eaten by the shark in the waters surrounding Amity, while the island’s residents can be heard organizing the Christmas pageant and a choir rehearses at the nearby marina.

Ellen and Hoagie dance along with the music in the parade during the locals' Junkanoo celebration.

Michael is able to persuade his mother to return with him to the Bahamas because it’s Christmas time and the family can be together.  I suppose the shark takes advantage of the holiday gathering to continue his hunt for the Brodys in one convenient location?  In the Bahamas, Hoagie and Ellen attend a Junkanoo Parade which is a local celebration that occurs every year in late December.

When Ellen takes the boat out into the ocean calling forth the shark she believes wants her dead, I kept thinking how different this movie could have been if they had written her character more like one Sigourney Weaver would play.

Have you seen Jaws: The Revenge before--and what did you think of it?  Was it a satisfying horror film for you? 

1 comment:

  1. I have seen this before, more times than I care to admit. I like the cheesy aspects of it. But I hate that they kill off the character of Sean in the beginning. He is Brody's son, he has been in all the previous films and and, boom, he's dead just to give this film motivation? Ugh.