WILLIAM GREFE WEEK: Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We already posted this back on December 12, 2018.As this is William Grefe week, we figured we should fish it back up — groan — and repost it.

The Florida-based director William Grefe has brought many swamp-tinged bits of exploitation goodness — or badness — to the screen, such as Alligator AlleyThe Wild RebelsThe Hooked Generation and so many more. As one of the first films made to take advantage of the shark craze in the way of Spielberg’s success, this film’s sympathetic view of sharks as victims is a pretty unique take on the genre.

Marine salvager Sonny Stein (Richard Jaeckel, who pretty much had a one-man war against nature with him battling bats in Chosen Survivors, bears in Grizzly and, well, any and all beasts with a chip on their shoulder in Day of the Animals) is given a medallion that allows him to communicate with sharks. He becomes increasingly disconnected from humanity — easy to do, everyone in this movie is scum — and uses his sharks to take out those who go against his beliefs.

One of those people is an incredibly chubby club owner who is using high-frequency sound to train his sharks, as well as kind of pimping out his wife Karen (Jennifer Bishop, Bigfoot) to get Sonny on their side. Have you ever seen a movie where strippers have been trained to swim with sharks? Who would want to see that? This movie provides the what, if not the why.

Another is a shady shark researcher that murders a shark and her pups. You will stare unbelieving at the screen while Jaeckel overly emotes as he clutches a dead baby shark in his mitts. Oh yeah — Harold “Oddjob” Sakata is also in this.

The stunt footage is pretty amazing and even gets a mention before the movie even begins. Other than the weird premise and a few good scenes, you can nap through most of this and not feel bad.

You can get this as part of the He Came from the Swamp box set that Arrow Video has just released. Diabolik DVD has it for sale now.

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