"Jaws" Still the "Definitive Shark Movie"

2015 marks the 40th Anniversary of the release of “Jaws.” Talk about making a man come face-to-face with his mortality and age. I remember watching Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster as a child when they’d play it yearly on television as the Saturday Night Movie Event. I became so enthralled by the giant beast that I would go to school and draw my best version of the movie poster on my book cover and grabbed as many “Jaws 2” Topps Trading Cards as I could get my little hands on.

My obsession with “Jaws” really began as a toddler. As strange as it sounds, I remember my mother picking me up from my grandmother’s house after seeing the movie. Her face was still flush red with fear. That look of terror sparked a curiosity that consumed and drove me to see it as soon as I could.

When I finally did get to see it, a love for horror and gore was already instilled in me somehow. One of my favorite parts was when Richard Dreyfuss dives down to the boat and the rotting head floats into his view. Quint (Robert Shaw) getting eaten was another one. I still love those scenes to this day.

As soon as I saw Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies were doing a special anniversary screening of “Jaws,” I knew I wouldn’t miss it. It’s still in my Top 10 favorite films of all time and always will be. I had previously seen it at an Alamo Draft House outdoor screening which took place on Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie, TX. However, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to see it in a proper theater with surround sound and digital projection.

I’m happy to report that “Jaws” still holds up just as well as it did in 1975. I’ve seen the movie dozens of times on both DVD and Blu-ray and it still made me nervous and anxious at times as the shark moved towards its intended victim and John Williams’ haunting score pulsed on. Even the humorous moments and dialogue of the movie still made me laugh.

It’s a completely different experience seeing “Jaws” in the setting it was meant for. The room is dark and you’re a captive to what you observe onscreen. There are no outside distractions to take you out of the film and you’re surrounded by all the sound of the ocean and other terrifying sound effects.

Upon reflecting on “Jaws” after taking it in again on the big screen, I realize that Steven Spielberg was right in the statement he gave producers when he turned down directing the sequel. He’s quoted as saying he had already made the “definitive shark movie.” He did… and directors have been trying for decades to one-up what he accomplished with that one trouble-plagued film which launched the summer blockbuster experience.