The 1975 thriller Jaws became a massively successful movie that helped redefine the modern blockbuster. Spawning three sequels and dozens of impersonators, the movie remains one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest cinematic achievements.
The digitally-remastered Jaws Blu-Ray has now hit store shelves, promising viewers a polished look at the classic film, as well as several bonus features. With that in mind, we at Screen Rant decided to come up with a list of movies that have referenced Jaws – directly or indirectly – in the nearly four decades since its release.
From the funny to the forgettable; from the crass to the creative, here’s a list of 12 movies that paid homage to an unforgettable Shark attack film.
Although the original Piranha arrived in theaters only three years after Jaws, it wasn’t until 35 years after the classic’s release that Piranha 3D so memorably embraced both the formula and the concepts behind Jaws.
From the summer fun that was interrupted by deadly sea creature attacks, to the scenes of mayhem at the beach, Piranha 3D includes dozens of subtle and not-so-subtle references to Jaws. The most noteworthy connection between the two is Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss’ cameo; not only was Dreyfuss playing Matt Hooper (his character from Jaws) in Piranha, and humming one of the classic’s songs, he was also dressed like Hooper as well.
An erotic drama featuring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke might be the last place you would think to find reference to a film about sharks attacking civilians. But the 1986 film 9 1/2 Weeks featured a rather distinct reference to Spielberg’s film.
Apparently, one of the boys in 9 1/2 Weeks “claims he can fart the theme to Jaws” and “Rourke’s character mimics [that] theme.”
Although this film seems like an odd choice in which to put a Jaws reference, the use of the iconic theme in a film isn’t surprising at all. In fact, that theme (or an imitation of it) has been used in countless other movies, including Cocoon: The Return, K-9, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Finding Nemo, andTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
When Deep Blue Sea arrived in theaters in 1999, many critics inevitably compared it to Jaws. This was another serious shark movie, but instead of a town being attacked, this one featured a group of scientists whose experiments with the underwater animals left the creatures smarter and more vicious than ever before.
Aside from some of the obvious similarities between the two flicks, Deep Blue Sea features a nod to Jaws that only true fans of the original will recognize: The license plate that is pulled out of a shark’s tooth in Sea has the same numbers on it as the plate that is found in the stomach of one of the Jaws sharks.
To follow up on the success of Jaws, Spielberg’s next directorial effort was the 1977 drama Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Along with Spielberg, Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss also worked on Close Encounters, playing the main character.
The connection between both films doesn’t end there, though. Spielberg’s dog (who was Brodie’s dog in Jaws) appears in both films, and the former film’s iconic theme “can be heard when the mother ship is communicating with the base at the end of the movie, right before the release of the human prisoners. ” Aside from that, supposedly a shark from Jaws can be seen as part of a large spacecraft in Close Encounters.
In 2003, viewers got a chance to see a different type of shark attack in the drama Open Water. Instead of one shark attacking civilians, this film focused on a couple who is left behind in the middle of the ocean, when their scuba-diving boat disappears without them on it. Based on a true story, this low-budget movie showed that a good shark movie didn’t need to rely on special effects to create scares.
This film – aside from the obvious similarities it shares with Jaws – features a distinctive shout-out to its predecessor. The last names of Susan and Daniel – the two main characters – are Watkins and Kintner. In Jaws, (according to IMDb) “the skinny-dipping girl who serves as the shark’s first victim is named Chrissie Watkins, and the second victim, the young boy who is killed on his inflatable raft, is named Alex Kintner.”
Jaws was such a success in 1975 that it spawned a sequel in 1978 with Roy Scheider and Lorraine Gary returning to their respective roles. In 1983, a third Jaws movie – this time in 3D! – arrived in theaters, and then in 1987, a fourth film entitled Jaws: The Revenge was released, much to the chagrin of viewers and critics alike.
It seemed like the shark attack story would continue no matter what, so it wasn’t surprising when Back to the Future II made light of the endless Jaws sequels in 1989. There’s a scene in BTTF 2 where Marty McFly encounters a theater marquee advertising Jaws 19, the 18th sequel. The marquee lists the director of the film as Max Spielberg, Steven Spielberg’s son.
It’s been over two decades since Jaws: The Revenge hit theaters, and thankfully, nobody has made this prediction come true….
“We’re gonna need a bigger boat” is probably the most famous line from the original Jaws. Spoken by Roy Scheider, the line refers to his character’s disbelief upon seeing the size of the great white shark that he and his two boat companions are attempting to kill.
That quote has been repeated and parodied in films and television shows throughout the years. From Clerks (1994) to Shanghai Knights (2003) to Evan Almighty (2007) and many others movies in between. One homage occurred in Batman & Robin (2007) when one of the characters notes, “We’re going to need a bigger cave.” In a movie full of stale one-liners and corny jokes, this line – and the movie as a whole – was a fail.
Although it mostly poked fun at Star Wars and its sequels, Spaceballs was a comedy that made jokes at the expense of many other films as well. One of those films was Jaws, with its iconic theme song.
In an early scene, the spaceballs’ ship is chasing a rebel ship (a la the opening of Star Wars), only the theme playing is the Jaws theme. The Spaceballs version doesn’t exactly feature the same notes that frightened a nation in 1975, but the two suspenseful songs are easily comparable.
As we noted before, this wasn’t the first time this theme music was used in a film, but the fact that a dozen years after Jaws was released, the theme was still being used as a parody, shows the undeniable staying power of that music.
Like Spaceballs, Airplane! derived much of its comedy from mocking a specific film series. While Spaceballs parodied Star Wars, Airplane! mocked the dramatic Airport movies – but both films found time to feature the dramatic Jaws theme.
The Jaws theme can be found in Airplane! as the plane’s fin breaks through the clouds in the initial minutes of the film. For those wondering how the effect was created, the Airplane! trivia page states that “the Jaws spoof in the beginning of the film was made of layers of cotton on a piece of plywood, with a hidden wire track for the airplane to ‘fly’ around.”
As the shark’s fin in Jaws represented the threat posed by the deadly creature, the plane’s fin foreshadows the (comedic) dangers that the plane will face, after food poisoning affects many of the passengers and crew members onboard.
On the surface, The Usual Suspects seems to have little in common with a movie about a massive shark attacking the innocent people of a small beach community; the 1995 crime drama was a serious movie about criminals, which had little to do with beaches or sharks.
There is, however, at least one major connection between the two films. One of the production companies that worked on Suspects was Bad Hat Harry Productions.
That company’s name refers to a famous line from Jaws: “That’s some bad hat, Harry” is the line that Brody tells his friend in the classic movie, and to this day, that piece of dialogue is considered another one of the film’s biggest quotes. The line stood out and so did the company. Bad Hat Harry Productions is still producing movies and TV shows today…
Frozen, a drama from 2010, tells the story of three friends who are stuck on a ski lift over the weekend and must figure out a way to survive without food and water as the cold seeps in. Hungry wolves that are watching and waiting below pose a threat to the three youngsters, if any of them should risk jumping off the lift.
There are numerous connections between Frozen and Jaws. For instance, Frozen features a conversation between the scared young adults about the worst way to die, and getting eaten by a shark as seen in Jaws is noted.
Additionally, 0ne of the production companies behind Frozen is caller “A Bigger Boat,” referring to Brody’s famous line in Jaws.
On Rotten Tomatoes, director Kevin Smith listed Jaws as one of his five favorite films. His response isn’t surprising, considering how many of his films include references to the epic thriller.
In fact, several websites have noted many of the Jaws Easter eggs scattered in Smith’s films. Clerks features a scene where Randall drops the “Bigger boat” quote while playing ‘Jaws‘ with nachos and salsa. Mallrats included characters named Brodie, Bruce, and Quint – all references to characters in Jaws.
Jaws has proven to be an unforgettable masterpiece that both filmgoers and critics can easily enjoy. To this day, fans still reference it and many filmmakers have shown their appreciation for the blockbuster hit, via clever (and not so clever) homages in their movies.
With that in mind, here again is our list of the 12 major Jaws references in other films.
1.) Goofy: Piranha 3D (2005)
2.) Crass: 9 1/2 Weeks (1986)
3.) Obscure Deep Blue Sea (1999)
4.) ‘Insider’ Connections: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
5.) Interesting: Open Water (2003)
6.) Tongue-In-Cheek: Back to the Future II (1989)
7.) Forgettable: Batman & Robin (1997)
8.) Memorable: Spaceballs (1987)
9.) Amusing: Airplane! (1980)
10.) Unusual: The Unusual Suspects (1995)
11.) Deadly: Frozen (2010)
12.) Consistent: Kevin Smith Movies
Source: All information in this article was researched (among other places) at IMDb.com.
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