DID YOU READ

10 Awesomely Cheesy Jaws Rip-offs

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Jaws is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, giving us a chance to remember a classic film that helped usher in the age of the summer blockbuster. Thankfully, we also get to celebrate 40 years of other, crappier movies ripping off Steven Spielberg’s classic within an inch of its life.

There was a point in the late ’70s when you couldn’t throw a stick without hitting a movie about an evil salmon or a bloodthirsty crab. If you had a cheap rubber suit and a camera, you were probably going to get a green light. Some of these films ended up being good, in their own way. (Alien was actually first pitched as “Jaws in Space.”) But most of these copycats have returned to the murky depths from whence they came. Here are a few of our favorites.

10. Grizzly (1976)

One of the first rip-offs to be released in the wake of Jaws, the filmmakers here had a brilliant idea: What if, instead of a shark, it was a bear??? The producers weren’t shy about aping what worked from the Spielberg classic. Just look at the tagline they went with: “The most dangerous jaws in the land.” It worked, as this movie became an unlikely hit.


9. Orca (1977)

The producers here didn’t bother taking their killer out of the ocean, not when there was already a whale with “killer” right in its name. That’s why they named their movie…Orca? Okay, “Killer Whale” might have worked better, but that hasn’t stopped this odd entry from becoming a cult classic. Making it personal long before Jaw: The Revenge had the chance, the film follows Richard Harris and his crew trying to outrun a killer whale hellbent on payback. Between an aborted orca fetus, Bo Derek getting her leg chomped off, and the killer whale sort of being the good guy, this odd movie is surprisingly entertaining.


8. Claws (1977)

You can’t get much more blatant than this rip-off, which rhymes its title with Jaws and steals its killer from Grizzly. It’s a rip-off of a rip-off, and is about as entertaining as that sounds. The audience was so anemic for this cash grab that they changed the title, without permission, to Grizzly 2 overseas.


7. Tentacles (1977)

Tentacles could have been fun. It had an all-star cast fronted by John Huston, Henry Fonda AND a giant squid. Frankly, what more do you need? But the director, Ovidio G. Assonitis, didn’t know if he was making high art or high camp. The goofy sequences keep getting interrupted by long, dull character work that falls exceedingly flat. Spielberg found a perfect balance in his blockbuster that eludes the director here. Rule number one — a movie with killer, rubber tentacles should never be referred to as “boring.”


6. Piranha (1978)

Straight from the Roger Corman film factory, this movie had the saving grace of being written by John Sayles and directed by Joe Dante. Wisely, they chose to focus on over-the-top gore and campy satire, which helped turn this no-budget film into a modest hit.


5. The Swarm (1978)

Irwin Allen, the king of the disaster pic, wasn’t going to be left out of this craze. He assembled an all-star cast, including future Jaws: The Revenge paycheck casher Michael Caine, to fight off a swarm of killer bees from south of the border. The Sunday Times referred to it as “simply the worst film ever made.”


4. Alligator (1980)

Another cheap knockoff written by John Sayles, it tries to retain the knowing satire and over the top camp of Piranha, with mixed results. While fans loved its ability to laugh at itself, Roger Ebert suggested the filmmakers “flush this movie down the toilet to see if it also grows into something big and fearsome.”


3. Blood Beach (1980)

Running out of animals to exploit, this film just shrugged its shoulders and decided to have the beach itself start attacking young, nubile actors. And just in case the audience missed the Jaws connection, its tagline was “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… you can’t get to it!”


2. Tintoera: Killer Shark (1977)

This very ’70s Mexican/British production followed an oceanographer chasing a 19ft shark. But mostly it was a vehicle for teenage boys to catch a glimpse of Susan George of Straw Dogs fame and a pre-Three’s Company Priscilla Barnes nude.


1. Great White (1981)

The Italian movie Great White was such a rip-off of Jaws, Universal successfully sued to have it pulled from theaters. The plot features a seaside town terrorized by a killer shark, a politician refusing to believe it, and a tough as nails shark hunter who blows the creature up. So, how is that similar?

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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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