Jun 20, 2012


Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.

Long ago, when the moon was high and the water was rising, a man named Bruno Mattei (R.I.P.) was born. His destiny for filmmaking greatness was carved in stone, but that stone, it turns out, wasn't stone at all - it was stinky, rotting cheese; and soon, Bruno began making the shittiest films you could ever imagine. Titles such as S.S. Extermination Love Camp, Porno Exotic Love, Porno Holocaust and Terminator II (but amazingly enough, not the Terminator II) were blazoned upon movie marquees. His films were hailed as exploitation trash, but gradually they developed their own cult following, as will anything incredibly stupid.

Bruno's masterpiece, Cruel Jaws, is something of a legend. Its title is whispered about on websites and blogs. Anyone who likes shark movies, or bad Italian cinema, has heard of its existence. And Cruel Jaws is unique, to be sure; not because of its plot, or of Bruno's presence, but because the film utilizes blatantly stolen footage from many different shark movies (the entire Jaws series, as well as The Last Shark and Deep Blood). The movie itself is a bold-faced rip-off of the original Jaws, and was even released as Jaws 5 in some foreign territories.

There are some out there who can look at a movie like Shark Attack or Deep Blue Sea and exclaim, "Pfft...Jaws rip-off!" simply because the movie is about sharks. Cruel Jaws is something much more than a rip-off, for it's a literal unauthorized remake of the first Jaws. Same lines of dialogue are spoken by their respective “characters,” only these new characters aren’t nearly as cool as the previous. Instead of Roy Scheider, we get a sweaty sheriff who plays second banana to the Richard Dreyfuss replacement, Wiener Man. And instead of the immeasurably cool and legendary Robert Shaw, we get a freakish-looking doppelganger of Hulk Hogan. Cruel Jaws also steals the disbelieving town mayor archetype. Peter Benchley even receives credit as a writer.

Drooping one step lower than you typical, half-assed shark film, the movie contains a mixture of stock footage, “original” footage, and the previously mentioned outright-stolen footage. Because this footage is so haphazardly smashed together, there is even a scene in which terrified onlookers point at a shark and scream during the day, and then we get a good look at the shark they are screaming at; a shark that's clearly swimming around in the dark ocean waters...at night.

Dag always laughs as he watches his crippled daughter
attempt to use the Slip-N-Slide.

The movie begins and we meet our the main protagonist, Dag, as he cavorts around in an obnoxious neon green hat and plays with dolphins at the aquarium he owns. Then we meet Dag's daughter, Gimp, who is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. However, said paralysis does not prevent said girl from kicking her obviously functional legs out from under her when she swims.

Wiener Man, along with his frumpy girlfriend, show up to celebrate the town's upcoming regatta. The couple bears some untold relationship to Gimp, but this relationship is left to wallow in its own obscurity.

It's pretty much right around here, I guess at the eight-minute mark, that the movie begins to blatantly steal from Jaws, as Wiener Man describes spending "18 months at sea on a floating asylum for oceanic research." This same character will later go on to explain that, "All sharks do are swim, eat, and make baby sharks...and that's all." Granted, the boy may be a geek, but he's not the Lord of the Geeks: Richard Dreyfuss, who originally delivered this dialogue exactly 20 years prior to this movie.

As the film continues, the stock and stolen footage continues to contradict itself, showing both tiger sharks and great whites, but hey, who's watching? You're not.

And just when you might notice such a glaring error as that, a man who seriously looks like the former dirty dancer himself, Patrick Swayzee (R.I.P.), shows up, playing the smarmy son of the smarmy mayor and dirtily dances around the beaches with his beach bunny.

Among other things "borrowed" from other films would be, oh, I guess the theme from Star Wars that is changed at the very last minute so as to sound different. I find it baffling that the filmmakers, who clearly have no problem stealing whole screenplay pages and footage from other movies would be remiss to steal the infamous Jaws theme as well. I also find it baffling that I am even watching this movie.

The nerdy couple goes to a disco dance club where they meet up with some equally nerdy friends. One of their friends, a stupid girl, exclaims, "I wanna dance!" as she is already dancing.

Thankfully, the titular shark of cruelty attacks and the town goes apeshit. As per Jaws, people go nuts trying to kill the shark to collect the handsome bounty.

Wiener Man tries in vain to tell the authorities what they are dealing with: "A sort of locomotive with a mouth full of butcher's knives." Shockingly, no one opts to listen to the wiener who spouts odd metaphors.

This event will, unfortunately, see the end of Patrick Swayzee and his battalion of cracker friends. The shark breaches, trying in vain to reach that hunk of meat that's nestled in the nether regions of the stock footage, and Patrick falls in the water.

As Patrick is gobbled up, his annoying girlfriend shrieks wildly and douses herself in gasoline in some half-assed attempt to burn the shark. Random boy figures this would be a perfect time to take aim with his trusty flare gun, and he fires at the shark (in order to edit in stolen footage of a boat explosion from Jaws 2 that this scene is depending on to conclude).

You wouldn't think it to look at her, but Marcy was
fucking hardcore during street fights.

Our idiotic trio has had enough of this sharkery, and the nerdy biologist and Dag decide it is time to go mano-a-squalo. As the two prepare for their battle on the dock, Gimp blatantly stands to hug her freak father before he sets off on a shark-hunting extravaganza of stolen footage and retardation.

Brutish men, on hire from the corrupt mayor, set out after the crew to silence them regarding some bullshit reason. But gosh, in all that open ocean, how will these men ever find them? Perhaps they could use that map that our heroes conveniently placed out in the open. You know, the map that depicts an area of charted ocean that is circled in fat red marker, with "IT'S HERE!" scrawled next to a fat red arrow confirming their destination.

And since we're now officially in a cartoon, I can't help but wonder when they're going to load up their ship with anvils.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Berger has a sudden attack of genius. He grabs a hunk of meat, a large hook, and hops in a helicopter to fly over the ocean, dangling said meat on said hook. He thinks this will work. We know it won't. You can pretty much guess what happens next.

Shark wailed in heartbreak as Helicopter,
who was biting back tears of his own, fled ashamedly.

Sheriff Berger shouts, "We're gonna need a bigger helicopter," gets pulled down into the water, and is instantly eaten. Then the shark lowers itself into the water and FARTS. (Granted, it was merely escaping air that had been caught in the head of the prop shark, but that's erroneous. It FARTED at me.)

Our idiotic trio sets some charges below in the sunken craft (kinda like exactly how Deep Blood ended) and causes the shark to explode… three different times in order to incorporate stolen footage from three different movies.

And at the very clipped ending of the third explosion, Mattei actually has the audacity to recreate the famous bone-to-spaceship shot from Kubrick's 2001, only this time, with a shark-exploding-multiple-times to jumping-dolphins shot.

I know what you’re thinking: you’re going to hop on Amazon to locate your own, personal copy of Cruel Jaws, perhaps one that comes with a digital copy that you could put on your iDag. But alas, the film is not available in the US, due to Universal Studios' immediate lawsuit filed against the movie's release back in '95. However, for the more savvy Googlers, there are copies of it floating around in cyberspace like a terrible shark prop, just waiting for you to Paypal your way into its heart.

In conclusion, when you're at the video store, staring at the case for Jaws, and wondering if you really want to watch it again for the 217th time, I recommend you go home, jump on eBay, and bid on a Region 0 DVD for Cruel Jaws. Then you can sit there and wait and re-bid and wait and re-bid and then get outbid by the big nerd who is willing to pay a lot of money for a stupid shark movie from Italy.

1 comment:

  1. Haha! Great review! I haven't seen the film but after reading this I am definitely going to search for this "Holy Grail" of shit.