Cruel Jaws has been released as Jaws 5 in many countries. It has nothing to do with the Jaws series of films other than ripping off footage from the first three films, as well as Deep Blood and The Last Shark. In fact, it goes so far to be Jaws that it rips off Hooper’s dialogue about what we know about sharks with some minor differences: “All they know how to do is swim and eat and make baby sharks, and that’s all.”
This one comes from the demented mind of Bruno Mattei, who also brought us crowd pleasers (if you consider me and my dog in the middle of the night a crowd) like Shocking Dark, The Other Hell and Rats: Night of Terror.
Dag Soerensen looks like Hulk Hogan, but he’s really the owner of the worst Sea World ever. His wife died in an accident and his daughter is in a wheelchair as a result, but even worse, he’s now behind on the rent. Greedy mobbed out real estate dude Sam Lewis is ready to shut him down, but Dag thinks he can capture the shark and save his little dolphin and seal mom and pop (well, until mom died) attraction.
It turns out that the shark in this one is a tiger shark engineered by the Navy to be a superweapon, yet it is now killing people all over Hampton Island. Dag and his family team up with Bill Morrisson, who desperately wants to be Hooper (even getting the stolen line mentioned above), to take out the shark with — you guessed it — explosives.
Most of the shark action — including the windsurfing scenes and the shark getting blown up — were ripped off completely from The Last Shark. Mattei also rips off Deep Blood and shark footage from the first three Jaws films, turning this into more of an exercise in sampling than an actual film. Yet I love it — where an American film would only hint at the bodies that wash up from an attack, Mattei revels in showing us gory bodies. I also adore that Mattei used the mafia subplot from the original novel that Spielberg took out of his movie. I’m certain he didn’t even realize what he was doing, which makes the end results even more entertaining.
There’s a windsurfing battle scene here — again, like I said, it’s all ripped off from The Last Shark — where one character says to another, “You’re a piece of shit. You’re vomit. You’re nothing.” while synthesizer beats bleat out of the screams of the crowd. Between that dialogue, the obvious cuts back to Castellari’s film and the fact that the two main windsurfers aren’t even moving as they race, I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier with an action sequence in a movie.
As part of this week of shark infested cinema, I tried to watch modern films that came out in the wake of Sharknado and couldn’t finish a single one of them. They all ape the Troma style, letting you in on the fact that they’re basically comedies. Screw that — I’d rather watch an inept film like this, with amateur American actors being unleashed upon dialogue stolen from other films while an Italian auteur (never has that word been applied to someone who exemplifies it less) barely puts together a coherent film.
Let me state my case one more time: Bruno Mattei used the music from Star Wars in this movie. Is this a hidden comment on how blockbusters destroyed the art and promise of the New Hollywood? Of course not. That said, I was so happy when the John Williams refrain played over dudes chumming the waters that I poured a drink over my head.
Shout! Factory almost released Cruel Jaws on a split blu ray with Exterminators of the Year 3000 in 2015, before realizing how much of the film is taken from other movies. “It came to our attention through several of our fans that Cruel Jaws had several scenes in it of unauthorized footage from Jaws 1-3 and other Italian-made shark films that makes it impossible for us to release this in the U.S. & Canada without risking legal ramifications. We gave serious thought about editing out the material of course, but it’s quite a bit of scenes to remove and we knew ultimately that doing that would not satisfy the film’s fans or new ones we wanted to attract.”