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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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Very NSFW

The Brockmire Premiere Is All Truth

Watch The First Episode of Brockmire Right Now for Free

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At long last, the Brockmire pre-premiere has arrived. Which means you can watch it right now—on IFC.com, at Funny Or Die, on IFC’s Apple TV and mobile apps, on Youtube, on Facebook, on the AMC apps, and right here. So grab some headphones and get watching.

No seriously, get headphones.

Because whether he’s giving a play-by-play or ruminating on the world around him, Jim Brockmire calls it like he sees it. And how he sees it is very NSFW. His take on life is actually quite refreshing, even to the point of being profoundly sage. For proof just look at these pearls of unconventional wisdom from the premiere…

Brockmire On The Internet

“If I need porn I just buy a nudie mag, like my father and his father before him.”

Brockmire On Sex-Ed

“Kids, a strap-on is a belt with d— on it that mommies use to f— daddies.”
Brockmire-Strap-On

Brockmire On The Perfect High

“Somewhere between 10 cups of coffee and very low-grade cocaine.”
Brockmire-Perfect-High

Brockmire On The Tardiness of Spring

“Old man winter’s reaching his hand inside your coat to give that thing one more squeeze.”

Brockmire On Keeping Perspective

“I thought I hit rock bottom in a handicap restroom in Bangkok where a Thai lady-boy snorted crank off my johnson while a sunburnt German watched us on the toilet”
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Brockmire On Humanity

“If you want to look directly into the gaping maw of oblivion, don’t look up to the heavens. Just look in the mirror.”
Jules-never-seen

See these nuggets and more in the first episode of Brockmire, and see the whole season beginning April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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