Blu-ray Review: Cruel Jaws (1995)

September 28, 2020

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Ever want to watch the entire Jaws series of films in one go, but you just could never find the time? Well, fret not cats n’ creeps, because your kindly uncle Bruno (Mattei that is… he of Shocking Dark, Rats: Night of Terror, and a beastly billion more… even though he’s credited as William Snyder here for reasons most likely relating to permits and taxes) has managed to shove the entire series into a 94 minute gem titled Cruel Jaws!

In the sleepy seaside town of Hampton Bay, Dag (Richard Dew… though it may actually be Hulk Hogan… Dagamania’s runnin’ wild brother!) operates an aquarium, though he’s down on his luck after an accident nearly ruined him, and left his poor waif of a daughter mighty pouty… and unable to walk I guess. To make matters worse, a greedy-ass businessman, the mafia, and the town’s mayor want his ass evicted pronto.

 

Say your prayers, take your vitamins, and don’t get too frisky with my dolphins brother!

 

Naturally, there’s also an annual festival (this time a windsurfing regatta) gearing up, and the powers that be will in no way risk the financial boon this will bring, regardless if people keep getting eaten by a shark.

Things go south as you can imagine, and a large reward is offered for the animal’s elimination, which would really help out ol’ Dag, so he gathers up his friends (who are “teens” and dolphins mostly) and prepares to save the day… which may be harder than he thinks as somewhere in all of this someone mentions that the shark is smart-as-balls thanks to government experiments…

As you can tell, I wasn’t bullshitting about this being the Jaws Greatest (S)hits Collection… we get the festival and unscrupulous mayor from the first film, the aquarium setting from Part 3, helicopter and sailboat action lifted from Part 2… hell we even get the mafia aspect chucked in from Peter Benchley’s original novel. Jaws: the Revenge is left untouched however… exactly as it was on video store shelves for decades…

It doesn’t stop there however, as Mattei has also pilfered footage from Enzo Castellari’s 1981 Jaws clone The Last Shark (that sailboat and helicopter action mentioned up yonder), and in a true bit of pure lunacy; slightly doctored music cues from Star Wars of all things (because John Williams’ Jaws score would have been too on the nose).

But hey, this time the shark is a tiger shark instead of a great white (if the dialog is to be believed)… and of course we get Dag, a true icon of the silver screen (and doubtless the regional squared circle).

As you may surmise, this is absolute cinematic madness; derivative sure, but jaw-dropping in it’s balls and cheese, and I adored every batshit minute of it!

Adding to the fun of the frightful feature, Severin have included some bonus material for us to sink our teeth into on this Blu-ray release! First up we get “the Snyder cut”, a version of the film that runs approximately two minutes longer that the standard version, followed by an excellent examination of the Sharksploitation genre from filmmaker, writer, professor and co-host of the Shock Waves podcast, Rebekah McKendry. Also included are an interview with actor Jay Colligan where he discusses how much of a blast it was working on the film, and the film’s trailer.

Pure nature-run-amok, carbon-copy, cinematic comfort food, Cruel Jaws is a another monstrous Mattei masterpiece… so blatant in it’s unoriginality, ham-fistedness, and unintentional weirdness that it becomes a thing of pure brilliance (trashy brilliance sure, but brilliant all the same)!

 

 

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