Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cruel Jaws (Bruno Mattei, 1995)

The debate going on inside my head whether or not I should admit that I just watched Cruel Jaws utilizing my own free will was a raucous one. On the one hand, I want everyone to know that I braved yet another Bruno Mattei film and lived to tell the tale. Yet, at the same time, I don't want people to think that I wasted any brain cells watching this drivel. I mean, even I have standards. You'll notice I didn't say, "wasting my time," when referring to the negative, brain cell destroying side effects that can accompany the viewing of a Bruno Mattei film. You wanna know why? No? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. It's because I don't believe time can be wasted. Interesting, do go on. You see, everything is a waste of time. In other words, to me, watching a Bruno Mattei film is on the same level as a attending your daughter's piano recital or catching the game winning touchdown in the Grey Cup. At least that's what I kept telling myself as I struggled to wade through this excruciatingly awful enterprise unscathed. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out how this shark hit piece managed to slither its way in front of my cerebral cortex in the first place. Am I this desperate for entertainment? The only explanation I can think of involves mounds of cocaine, but I don't do cocaine. You could say, I do Bruno Mattei (a.k.a. Vincent Dawn). In this particular film, which, get this, was made in 1995; Whoa! 1995?!? Have you lost your mind? You of all people should know that nothing of value was made in 1995. Anyway, the Bruno Mattei being employed in this flick goes by the name of William Snyder, a potent strain of the drug. Yeah, that's right. It's potent. Don't be fooled by the blandness of its name, this film is pure Bruno Mattei from start to finish.
If you like watching mediocre actors interact with grainy stock footage stolen from other films, what the fuck is wrong with you? It's obvious that you need to get professional help. Which reminds me, someone, not me, of course, as I'm a habitual user with low self-esteem, should set up a Bruno Mattei support group to help those who endured his films. Actually, that's not fair, as Women's Prison Massacre, Private House of the SS, and Hell of the Living Dead are excellent films. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. But I think most folks will agree that all three are entertaining in their own unique way. No, what I think someone should set up is a Cruel Jaws support group.
Enough stalling, tell us all about this wonderful film. Do I have to? I would much rather talk about Bruno Mattei as if he were a drug and I was the user. While I dig the hypothesis you're putting out there, I think you should focus some attention on the actual film. Again, do I have to? Yes. Okay, let me try to gather some thoughts together. Ahh, it's coming back to me. Oh my god! I'm starting to remember Cruel Jaws. Quick, somebody kill me. Too late, it's in my brain now.
The film opens with a camper heading toward the quiet coastal town of Hampton Bay. ("Armageddon - come Armageddon! Come, Armageddon! Come!") Actually, the film opens with divers being attacked by a shark while snooping around the wreck of the U.S.S. Cleveland. But really, who gives a shit? Try not giving one, it feels great. Inside the camper, Billy (Gregg Hood), a marine biologist, and his girlfriend Vanessa (Norma J. Nesheim), a marine biologist she is not, are discussing all the fun they plan on having while in town.
The reason Vanessa says, "Something smells fishy" could be seen either two ways. The obvious reason is because Billy is pulling into the parking lot of an aquarium (they have fish there, and fish some times smell fishy). But she's also saying it because she thinks Billy is up to something. You see, Vanessa wants Billy to periodically poke her vagina with his hopefully erect penis, but she worries that his cunt concern will drift back to fish and junk. 
Sauntering over to where a couple of dolphins are swimming with a little girl named Susy (Kristen Urso), Billy embraces her dad, Dag (Richard Dew), the owner of the aquarium, and his teenage son, Bobby (Scott Silveria); and judging by the chummy nature of their embrace, it would seem that Billy used to live Hampton Bay. When Susy eventually gets out of the water, Cruel Jaws has its first dramatic moment. As she's being helped out of the water, we learn that she has the lost use of her legs. I think I might have heard something about her getting attacked by a shark, but the annoying carnival music drowns out their conversation (it's too bad I can't read Japanese - the version of the film I watched has Japanese subtitles). Either way, the look of sadness on Billy and Vanessa's faces as Susy is plopped into her wheelchair was like being on emotional roller coaster.
Strange, from what I've read so far, Cruel Jaws sounds like a pretty good movie. It's got dolphins, little girls confined to wheelchairs, that Dag fella looks like Brooke Hogan's dad circa 1987 (I want Brooke Hogan to suffocate me with her thighs - just putting that out there), and, oh, look, the local sheriff, Francis (David Luther), is handing Dag an eviction notice. Yeah, maybe you're right. Let's see if my recollection of this film continues on this positive-sounding course.
It appears that Sam (George Barnes, Jr.), a local businessman, has bought the property and plans to build a condo/resort on the land the aquarium sits. Meaning, Susy won't be able to swim with Kooky and Daisy (the actual names of the aquarium's dolphins) anymore. I know, what a jerk. To make matters worse, there's a killer shark on the loose.
Oooh, quiet. My favourite Cruel Jaws character is about to show up. You mean that asshole with the dimpled chin? No, not Ronnie (Carter Collins), the son of the aforementioned jerk/businessman. Check out the woman he's running along the beach with. Wow, she's amazing. Who is she? Why, that is Glenda, Hampton Bay's resident short-haired, leggy troublemaker. Played by model Sky Palma, Glenda is one the few people in town whose facial expressions properly match the mood of their surroundings. In other words, if Glenda sees something horrible, like a badly decomposed body washed on the beach, she'll scream. If those "other words" aren't clear enough. What I think I'm trying to say is that Sky Palma is the only one doing any actual acting.
The badly decomposed body Ronnie and Glenda stumble upon is taken to the morgue, where Billy tells Francis that the diver was killed by a shark. When this nugget of information hits the ears of Sam and the mayor, they freak out. But not because they're concerned about the well-being of the townspeople, they stand to lose lot's of money if no one comes to the regatta they have planned. Determined to do everything in their power to make sure the windsurfing race goes off without a hitch, Sam tries to placate the fears of Billy and Francis (who want him to call off the regatta) by installing a shark-proof fence around the beach and hiring helicopters to patrol the harbour.
If he thinks the shark is causing him grief, wait until he finds out that his daughter Gloria (Natasha Etzer) has a crush on Bobby. Yeah, that's right. His daughter is canoodling with the enemy. When his dimple-chinned asshole of a son finds out about Gloria and Bobby, Ronnie threatens to tear his balls off. Quirky fun-fact: Barehanded castration is threatened a total of three times during Cruel Jaws. And in every instance, it's Bobby's balls that are threatened to be forcibly removed. Making his balls the most at risk testicles in movie history.
I didn't need another reason to dislike Ronnie, but the film provided me with one when he attempts to poison Kooky and Daisy. Don't worry, his dastardly deed is thwarted by a plucky seal. But still, poisoning dolphins? You suck, Ronnie. I don't know what Glenda sees in you.
Maybe there's more to Ronnie than meets the eye, because Vanessa makes a beeline straight for his cock. Wait a minute, you mean Vanessa and Billy are through? It looks like it. But why? They seemed so right for each other. It looks like Vanessa has had enough of Billy's obsession with fish. In fact, she gives him ultimatum at one point, asking him "it's either the fish or me"? And he chose the fish? Not exactly. He didn't answer the question quickly enough to her liking, so she told him to go fuck himself. Ouch.
The best way to avoid being attacked by a shark is to stay out of shark-infested waters. The worst way to avoid being attacked by a shark is to participate a windsurfing race that's being held in shark-infested waters. When a race official tells the windsurfers that the race will commence in two minutes, it seemed like I had to actually had to wait two minutes. Speaking of time, even though it takes fifty minutes for Bruno Mattei's shark to appear onscreen (everything up until now has been stock footage of sharks from other movies), I was strangely satisfied. Sure, it looked fake, but I would much rather have fake-looking puppet shark than anything created on a computer. The puppet shark gets wet, the computer-generated shark doesn't even know what wet is. At any rate, as the race kicks off, we're treated to some Yello-esque music, which is followed by some John Williams-esque music. Which reminds me, with so much out right thievery going on, you could call Cruel Jaws movie-esque, as it contains some of the elements that make up a real movie. But mostly features material stolen from other movies. At the end of day, you have to admire the editing of Bruno Mattei, as he has pieced together a pretty entertaining shark movie without a shark.

video uploaded by Dollar Ben


  1. Tis is definitely a fun movie! And you've gotta love Claudio Fragasso's awful yet awesome writing! "I want you to find the tallest skyscraper you can and throw yourself off, and then go fuck yourself!"

  2. Just to put it into perspective, your current score is-
    Bruno Mattei: 5
    Jess Franco: 16

    When are you going to get on the Jean Rollin films? "Le Frisson des Vampires" (The Shiver of the Vampires, 1971) is simple divine. You could use some pampering after all the crap you've been watching.

  3. @Chris Hewson: Is that the actual line? I remember her telling him to "go fuck yourself," but not the skyscraper part. Either way, it's gold!

    @ido: And there's more Jess and Bruno to come. :D

    The current score is actually-
    Bruno Mattei: 5
    Jess Franco: 16
    Jean Rollin: 1

    I did an entry on Jean Rollin's Bacchanales Sexuelles some time ago. But I see your point. I'll try to hook myself up with some Jean Rollin.

    @Carrie: Yay! *hugs*

  4. Yep, it's the full line alright! haha!

  5. @Yum-yum: Rollin's vampire films are simply mesmerizing, gorgeous works of poetic bliss. Well, for me at least. I do recommend watching "Shiver of the Vampires" first, though.

    Oh, and SWANS released "The Great Annihilator" in 1995. So something good was made in that year.

  6. @Chris Hewson: I'm surprised the skyscraper/fuck yourself line isn't listed the film's imdb memorable quotes page. Though, "We're gonna need a bigger helicopter" is there.

    @ido: I would love to go on a Jess Franco-style viewing spree when it comes to Jean Rollin movies, but the place I get my movies doesn't seem to have that many in stock. :(

  7. @yum-yum: I can provide downloadable, dvd quality copies of several Rollin films if you'd like. Contact my blog email for details.

  8. @Yum-yum: oh, and the Morrissey song link in the review has me listening to The Smiths again for the first time in over a decade.

  9. I think I should check what kind of Jean Rollin selection they have at my local movie place before I resort to downloading (they would appreciate that). I know they have some available; I can just see Brigitte Lahaie's face staring back at me on one of the boxes.

    What? That link caused you to listen to The Smiths again? To quote He-Man, "I have the power!" ;)

  10. @Yum-yum: I bought used Japanese cd editions of "The Smiths" and "Hatful of Hollow" when I studied abroad in Osaka over ten years ago. It was my very first time in the country. I used to listen to those albums all the time on my portable cd player when I was riding the train. So now I always associate The Smiths with riding the train in Osaka or Kyoto.

  11. Ah, that explains your knowledge of all things Japanese.

    Oh, and they have three Jean Rollin movies at my local video store (the reason they don't have more is because no one asks for them). Anyway, I'll probably get around to watching them in early January. You know, have myself a mini-Rollin fest.

  12. I admit it, I kind of love Cruel Jaws. I love all the lifted footage from Jaws 2 (as well as the storyline or dialog, if memory serves me correctly). I need to see this again for sure. Maybe with Devil Fish?

    I wonder if you've seen Shark Attack in the Mediterranean? That one is, like, almost brand new and teeters into this kind of ludicrous-ness in many of those old time faboo ways.

  13. I'm familiar with Sharks in Venice (it's in the "sharksploitation" section at my local video store, but not Shark Attack in the Mediterranean.