Jaws (1975) | History of Horror

Pierce Turner

Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

For a while, I went back and forth on whether or not Jaws should be considered a horror movie because of its huge budget and blockbuster feel. Then I remembered it’s about a giant underwater monster that eats people and the answer was obvious.

Jaws may feel bigger than most horror films, but in a way it’s really just an evolution of the “monster flick.” It follows the same basic formula: a monster is on the loose killing people, an entire town panics, ordinary people go to hunt it down. It’s not so different from Frankenstein, The Thing or even Godzilla. What Jaws did for the horror genre was make it something worth investing in again. At its release, Jaws was the highest grossing movie of all time and the film that started the “summer blockbuster” craze. But that’s not why Jaws is special.

Jaws is just an outstanding work of art. A true masterpiece and easily Stephen Spielberg’s best film. I can’t think of any movie that creates as much suspense and as much dread, let alone from a threat that is largely unseen throughout. Much of that is due to John William’s iconic score. Only Michael Myers from Halloween comes close to having a horror theme song as scary.

The small island town Amity, which thrives off of beach-going tourists’ money, is threatened by an unnaturally big and dangerous Great White Shark. Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) fights to keep the beaches closed but they mayor keeps them open to ensure a profitable summer. After enough people have died, Brody plans to hunt the fish with the help of shark expert, Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and fisherman, Quint (Robert Shaw). They all take a boat into the ocean to kill the beast and from there the tension rises to extreme levels.

These three main characters are some of the most memorable and endearing in the genre. They are all so different that there’s no way they can get along. Brody is a seasoned cop but has no idea what to do on a boat, in fact, he’s scared of boats. Hooper is perhaps a bit too excited and naive about documenting this monumental monster. Quint has a history with sharks and it’s hinted he may even hold a grudge. My favorite scene is when they’re comparing scars in the boat and Quint tells his story about surviving the U.S.S. Indianapolis.  It’s a scene that wasn’t even in the book, but one where director Spielberg and the actors are able to get under the skin of anyone like me who hates the ocean. Then they start singing. I love this movie.

Jaws absolutely fits into the horror genre, and it’s the best horror movie ever made.

Jaws is streaming on Spinnaker’s free movie streaming service along with many other classic horror films! Check it out on movies.spinnakertv.com.

Also, check out Jaws 2, an underrated sequel with an incredible performance by Roy Scheider.

Tomorrow, we are going indie and going to Haddonfield, Illinois to talk about a very different kind of killer on the loose.

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