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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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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.