Sunday, June 28, 2009
The Last Shark (1981, Enzo G. Castellari)
Wait, is it Great White or The Last Shark? Well, it's both. The disc that I watched was a Swedish import with the title Jättehajen: Vindsurfarnas Skräck (which I think translates to The Giant Shark: Windsurf in Fear...or maybe not), but the film itself (luckily it was in English) had the title The Last Shark. Mostly known as being a Jaws ripoff (Spielberg actually sued the film makers because of the numerous similarities, which caused it to be pulled from U.S. theaters), this film is also known as The Last Jaws, Jaws Returns and (its original Italian title) L'ultimo squalo. I had seen the poster above, which I would have to say is one of the scariest movie posters ever (despite the fact it's basically a ripoff of the Jaws poster - surprise surprise), in a magazine pictorial of some one's horror collection and it stuck with me. I then read a review on the Basement of Ghoulish Decadence blog and found out that the movie was the same as the one in the movie poster.
The Last Shark is the story of a coastal town terrorized by a shark. Why it's called the Last Shark, I have no idea. But anyway, it first strikes when a windsurfer (hence the Vindsurfarnas in the title - and you thought I made that up?) is doing some sweet moves and is suddenly shot up in the air as if surfing over a landmine. How a fucking shark can do that I can't really tell you. I'll just use the excuse I give my kids when I don't know the answer: "maybe it's magic?" Anyway, his surfboard turns up in pieces and it is determined to be a shark by local sailor Hamer (Vic Morrow). The local Police chief (James Franciscus) joins Hamer in a shark hunt after his daughter is attacked. Also on the hunt for the shark is the town mayor (Joshua Sinclair) and a fame-hungry news reporter (Giancarlo Prete).
I will start by saying that there are many aspects of this film that are obviously influenced by Jaws. The chief of police, the crusty shark hunter (who even dresses like Quint, the crusty shark hunter from Jaws) and of course the killer shark. The chief's wife even looks like Brody's wife in Jaws. I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting. I actually feel the same way about this film that I do about Beyond the Door, which if you read my review is an Italian Exorcist ripoff. The thing about these two films is that they actually have some great scenes, but it is sometimes hard to appreciate them when other parts of the films are just so blatantly copied from the films they are cashing in on. One of the deaths in this film, where a character is bitten in half, is better than any of the deaths in Jaws or any of its sequels. I was sitting there screaming "FUCK YEAH" with my 9 month old daughter staring at me (calm down, she doesn't know what I'm saying) and clapping at the screen (I was clapping, not her). There were a few other really cool scenes that I enjoyed too. The shark they used in the main shots was kind of stiff looking and most of the other times you saw the shark it was obviously just stock footage. The acting was decent and you could definitely tell that it was a Castellari film, mainly because the cast featured many of the same actors in his other films (Giancarlo Prete, Joshua Sinclair, Badass Romano Pupo) and featured music by the De Angelis brothers. Overall it was a decent movie that was fun...if you can get past the whole Jaws thing.