Great White (a/k/a The Last Shark) (1981)
What’s It About: Steven Spielberg’s Jaws broke the mold when it comes to filmmaking. It paved the way for the modern summer blockbuster and countless of imitators. This is one of them. Beach town has a great white shark problem and takes necessary action to solve their shark problem before more innocent swimmers or fishermen die.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- The Italian title is L’Ultimo Squalo or The Last Shark. The last shark EVER?!
- This is an obvious cash-in at the success of Jaws. And its funny that Great White gets ripped off by Jaws 3 and its credit montage of water-skiers, when Great White has a credit montage of a wind surfer. A little quid pro quo perhaps.
- A shark attack with no blood in the water. We’re off to a great start.
- Would it be wrong to call this a “Spaghetti Spielberg?”
- “There’s something fishy here and I don’t like it.” Haha. That should’ve been the tag line.
- This was no grenade accident!!
- The Regatta? Jaws had a whole summer season at stake and the livelihood of Amity’s citizens. This town’s governor only cares about a boat race.
- So they install a huge underwater net to stop the shark. That not only seems very expensive but also completely asinine.
- What accent is Vic Morrow trying to speak with? It’s a cross between Italian, Mexican and Scottish. His last name is Hamer so this is extra baffling.
- Shark breaks through the underwater net; as expected. What wasn’t expected was the half dozen swimmers finding out in time to flee the water and not get harmed. Seriously? No shark attack?!
- On the beach is a box that when knocked on, a little door opens revealing a one man band dressed like Uncle Sam singing a song. WTF!
- The shark is ignoring all the windsurfers. Is he tired of windsurfers? It’s a smorgasbord of young kids in the water and the shark swims right past them only to attack the governor’s aid. Maybe the shark was sending a message?
- I should also point out that the protagonist is an author named Peter Benton. The author of Jaws is Peter Benchley.
- This is an Italian production yet they are really going out of their way to make this look American. A lot of American flags (even Southern Crosses!) and a couple of Snoopy references.
- Shark is smart enough to trap Peter Benton & Ron Hamer in a cave by ramming the rocks a few times to close up the hole. But it’s OK because they have a bomb. Yes an underwater bomb. I guess it was for the shark? But how would they even get close enough? And who’s bright idea was to face the shark head-on underwater with scuba gear? No anti-shark cage for these heroes! Hooper was a pussy.
- There really is no good reason to see Vic Morrow in a skin tight wet suit.
- Lots of decent live shark footage but the shark model is pretty bad. It looks terrible and its jaws barely move. The Jaws Ride at Universal has a more convincing shark.
- Kids try to catch the shark with a bundle of steaks on a metal rod. I think they were going to lure the shark with the meat and shoot it with shotguns but the enormous shark proved too strong for 3 guys holding the pole and the girl gets knocked overboard. Yet she survives somehow, albeit with a missing leg.
- Feeling guilty because it was the governor’s son who tried to catch the shark with steak with Peter Benton’s daughter who lost the leg, the governor takes a bunch of steaks with him on his helicopter. What is with the steaks?! Why use the same idea your dumb-ass kid tried. But only now it’s on a helicopter. His plan is to somehow pull the 3 ton fish out of the water using only a hunk of meat with a helicopter.
- Doesn’t matter since the shark pulled the winch off the helicopter and along with the governor who gets ripped in half. This was an awesomely bad effect by the way. Then the helicopter pilot looking for the governor gets too close to the water and the shark grabs it and pulls it under the water.
- More hunks of meat?! There was one chum scene in Jaws and the scene with the wife’s holiday roast which was supposed to show how asinine using a hunk of meat to catch a 3 ton shark is. Apparently Great White’s filmmakers loved the meat idea.
- Sharks can’t scream.
- This is the smartest shark ever.
- Benton just used Hamer as bait! Sure he was already dead but still.
- Sure it’s a poorly made rip-off from Jaws but I’m a little surprised the courts ruled in favor for Universal to ban it being released in the states. It wasn’t a complete carbon copy of Jaws really.
Is It Actually Scary: Jaws‘ P.O.V. opening title montage is scarier than anything in Great White. Lets put it that way.
How Much Gore: The worst complaint I could possibly have is the complete lack of good shark attacks and its gore. For Chrissakes, if you’re going to rip-off Jaws at least up the ante!
Best Scene: For pure schlocky cheese the governor in the helicopter scene. His demise’s effect is so poorly done its hilarious. Then the shark pulls down a whole helicopter into the ocean depths.
Worst Scene: I was so bored by the three separate scenes where they tried to catch the shark with hunks of meat. Seriously, three different sets of people all tried to lure the shark with meat and failed. Add to that the fact that the shark attacks were so lame and tame its difficult to narrow down a bad scene when there’s so many.
Any Nudity: Just the shark. But if you look close enough you can practically make out Vic’s little morrow when he wears his wet suit.
Overall: Pure cheese! I actually had a lot of fun laughing at how bad this Jaws rip-off was made. Actually since this was made in 1981 its made after Jaws 2 and still couldn’t be better than the sequel to the mother of all nautical horror films. Vic Morrow gets a pass because he was drunk the whole production (allegedly). The lack of great kills (save for the governor’s) and attacks makes this almost unwatchable but because everything is ridiculous it tips the scales for the average viewer. It did however, have more live shark footage than Jaws so that’s something I suppose. Hey, there’s 1,385 shark horror themed movies out there. This one can’t be the worst so there.
Score: 4 One-Man Bands in a Box on the Beach (out of 10)