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One only needs to look at all the rip-offs and inspired titles from a particular film to really know how successful it was. Granted, for Steven Spielberg's 1975 film Jaws, it might have some to do with the box office profits as well. As we all know, movie monsters only die at the box office, which means if it made money, there will be a sequel. Or two. Or more, until the cash cow, or shark as the case may be, is completely dead and resting at the bottom of the ocean. Now we have to remember that in the mid '70s, sequel-itis hadn't really spread in Hollywood, but the money Jaws made was just too much to leave well enough alone, so we got Jaws 2 in 1978. Now the story of that production is enough for a book on its own. In fact, there is! Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel, by Louis R. Pisano & Michael A. Smith, is essential for any fan of the Jaws series, not only because it's on the sequel, but you get a real insight of how much the producers have control of what the final movie is going to be. And Pisano and Smith books gives plenty of info.
But let's get back to our review of this new book, by John LeMay. Because there were a ton of different movies that were inspired by or just blatantly ripped off, that is enough for a book on its own, which is where LeMay has come in. This amazing book not only covers the films that got made, but also the countless scripts and almost-productions that were on the verge of becoming actual movies. If you thought there already was a lot of knock-offs, wait until you read about the ones that either never made it, or the ones that did, but were dramatically different before the final finished product.
LeMay covers films in their different stages, such as the aforementioned Jaws 2, giving us a look at the different variations of the script, as well as for Jaws 3, which originally was set to be a comedy! You'll read about inspired films from different countries, such as from Italy's The Last Shark (1981) and Cruel Jaws (1995) to Bollywood's Aatank (1996), to films that never got made, such as Hammer's Nessie or Bert I. Gordon's Devil Fish. Each one filled with as much information about the production that you want to know. Even the worse descriptions make me wish some of these actually were made, because you know it was going to be entertaining. And LeMay doesn't sugar coat these films either, plainly stating on their "quality" but also shows where the entertainment value can still be found.
There is even a bit of coverage on non-shark movies but were inspired directly from Jaws, such as Grizzly and it's almost-lost sequel, plus a few killer crocodile and alligator movies, not to mention a few giant squids and killer whales!
Needless to say that if you are a fan of the Jaws series, and even more so, of the films that followed in its wake, then this book is not only a must read, but I can guarantee you that you'll be seeking a lot of these titles that were made, either to re-visit or watch for the first time.
I wasn't expecting much considering the books unimpressive cover, but I was happy to be proven otherwise when I started reading. This book is loaded with new information on the JAWS sequels and rip-off films.
I was really happy to read more details about the early concepts for JAWS 2 and details of scenes that were cut from the finished film.
Overall this is a great book that should be in every JAWS fanatics collection. I would have given this book 5 stars but, they failed to give the 1980 film Alligator, one of the best JAWS cash grabs a proper chapter. That nitpick aside, this is a fun and interesting read.
An iconic film that captivated the world, that spawned a film franchise, and inspired countless... numerous... imitators. Rivaled (perhaps) only by the Aliens franchise, Jaws has left in it's wake numerous... seemingly endless... wannabes and rip-offs.
But, this isn't just a look at the more noteworthy imitators, but also at the wild and varied history of the film franchise itself. From early drafts of the sequels, to even unmade films... such as a prequel starring a young Quint in the events concerning the Indianapolis which he described in his ominous retelling to Brody and Hooper.
Highly recommended read, as well as his previous book 'Kong Unmade' which takes a similar deep dive into the legacy of Kong.
This book is a great reference for several Jaws sequels. The best one is the Jaws 2 sequel that was almost made, it was very dark and quite unlike the filmed Jaws 2. It involved a somewhat larger female shark, who was also pregnant, who had the munchies due to her pregnancy. There was a bit of conflict due to Brody JR and Mayor Vaughn’s kid, plus several scenes ( a cod run in the bay, a wounded seal that that the Brody youngest takes care of, a disappearing pelican, etc) that were deleted from the final film. I personally feel that this version of the film would have been much better than the finished product. Not to put down Jaws 2, it was an enjoyable summer pic, but the proposed original would have been darker, more detailed and logical (meaning there was a reason for the shark to be there and why it was in a feeding frenzy).
John LeMay's 20th book is another great addition to any library. As he explores Jaws, the sequels, the rip-offs, spin-offs, near misses, and everything in between, you are able to learn about why some movies are just bigger than their runtime. Well written and thoroughly researched, this book is fun and informative.
"Jaws Unmade" was one of the best nonfiction books I have read this year. The author's voice comes through and it is a well researched look at all the sequels, remakes, ripoffs and failed projects that tried to cash in on Jaws. It is humorous frequently and has quotes from many of the people involved in these films. It made me want to seek out some of the terrible movies just to see how bad they truly are. I was so impressed that I ordered his previous book "Kong Unmade" and I am currently reading it. If you like books about movies that are fun and informative this is one of the best I have read recently.
Like all of Lemay's books on unmade genre films, this is a treasure trove of interesting facts and anecdotes about what might have been at the multiplex. But I must take issue with one thing here, as is always the case when the subject of JAWS rip-offs comes up. And that is Lemay's take on Ovidio Assonitis' TENTACLES.
No one is going to argue that TENTACLES is great cinema. But if you're interested enough in aquatic monster movies & JAWS knock-offs to write or read a book like this, it's hard to imagine you being unable to find considerable enjoyment in this goofy Italian exploitation effort. Lemay praises several scenes in the movie, yet seems so preoccupied with the fact that the filmmakers had to use a real octopus & with the sparse utilization of name stars Shelley Winters, Henry Fonda, and John Huston that he is somehow unable to appreciate the whole thing. And this is from a writer who liberally praises GRIZZLY (a film whose real bear star may have been closer to the advertised size, but was not the least bit menacing when "acting" on-screen) and MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH (which is basically just JAWS meets JENNIFER THE SNAKE GODDESS, and really only has one effective scene in its entire dreary run time). If you can find fun in those pictures, there's no reason why you shouldn't have some appreciation for TENTACLES. Yet Lemay spends much of the chapter on this one bemoaning how disappointing it is.
I find this a lot when dealing with knock-offs and exploitation quickies. Authors or reviewers will spend pages singing the praises of one derivative effort, but get on their high horse and crap all over another, as though they feel they have to single out a few to trash just to remind the reader/viewer that they're aware they aren't dealing with great art. I suppose its nitpicky of me to spend most of my positive review of a book taking the author to task for opinions expressed in a single chapter. But that's exactly what reading the TENTACLES chapter of this otherwise excellent book felt like for me. I was rolling along, thinking "This dude gets it!" and then suddenly, without warning, he's holding a schlocky movie I absolutely love to a strict standard of quality he doesn't seem to think should apply to most of the other films he discusses. To each their own, I guess. You'd just assume, however, that a writer whose "own" includes the likes of GRIZZLY (which I also love) would also have some affinity for a film like TENTACLES. Sigh.