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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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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