THE MEG (2018) – Giant Shark Tale Ridiculous But Fun

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THE MEG (2018) is often ridiculous and about as scary as a Scooby-Doo cartoon, but this mega shark adventure is also something else: fun.

THE MEG opens with a deep-sea rescue mission gone wrong.  Rescuer Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is in the midst of leading a rescue team to save folks trapped in a damaged nuclear submarine, but when something seems to attack the sub, Jonas makes the executive decision to leave some of his team behind in order to rescue the few lives he has with him. It’s a decision that does not bode well with others on his team, as later no proof of a powerful sea creature which Jonas said was attacking the sub is ever found.

In terms of opening sequences, it’s not all that memorable and sounds more exciting than it actually is.

The action picks up five years later at a deep-sea station off the coast of China where a scientist named Zhang (Winston Chao) is leading an expedition to travel to the very depths of the ocean, and beyond.  See, Zhang believes that at the bottom of what is considered to be one of the deepest parts of the ocean floor, lies a gaseous barrier rather than a solid bottom, and he believes beneath that barrier is another world. And faster than you can say Jules Verne, a mini sub is launched from the station to prove just that.

The sub breaks through the barrier, but before anyone can celebrate, it’s attacked by a mysterious unseen creature. And of course, Zhang and company turn to the one man who has ever attempted a rescue that deep in the ocean, Jonas Taylor. Jonas, of course, says he’s done with all that, wants no part of it, and nothing they can say will change his mind. His resolve lasts all of two seconds before he learns that the woman commanding the sub and one of the people trapped inside is his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee).

And so Jonas packs his bags and is off to the rescue, where of course he will come face to face with a massive prehistoric shark which may or may be the same creature which he encountered five years before. The film doesn’t really make that clear.

And this is only the beginning, because once the rescue is done, the mammoth shark decides he’s had enough of living so far below the ocean and comes up for a visit.

One of the main reasons THE MEG is so much fun is its story keeps evolving. It’s not just one long rescue mission tale.  Things continually change. As a result, the movie remains exciting throughout, and with some brisk pacing, there are very few slow parts here.

The screenplay by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Erich Hoeber, based on the novel Meg by Steve Alten, also contains lots of lively dialogue which is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It also does a really good job developing its characters, which for a movie like this, is a pleasant surprise. In fact, that was one of my favorite parts of this movie, that its characters were all so likable.

But the story is not without flaws. A lot of things aren’t explained all that well. For instance, once the giant shark makes its presence known, everyone who doubted Jonas apologizes to him. Yet, at one point in the story, Jonas says the creature outside the sub in his doomed mission was destroyed in the subsequent explosion, so, just how the appearance of this prehistoric shark acquits Jonas is unclear to me. Just because there’s a huge shark around now doesn’t mean there was one that day Jonas left those people behind to die.

For such a deep-sea expedition, it seems to take only seconds for everyone to get down to the ocean floor and then back up again. And some of the later shark scenes are flat-out ludicrous but somehow don’t deteriorate into laughable material.

And while the story scores high on the adventure meter, it scores less so when it comes to conflict.  Nearly every plan our heroes suggest works.

Director Jon Turteltaub plays things safe. THE MEG is rated PG-13, so there’s not a drop of blood to be found. Yet, somehow, the movie doesn’t suffer for it.

The shark itself is okay.  CGI sharks just don’t cut it for me.  This one works best when we see it only partially, like shots from above where we see its massive form swimming beneath the waves. Those scenes are ominous, but seen up close, it’s nothing more than a frightening cartoon.

One of the strongest parts of THE MEG is its cast. Pretty much everyone in the movie is very good, and so that goes a long way towards making this film as enjoyable as it is.

Director Jon  Turtelbaub deserves some credit here for getting so much out of his actors in this one.

We’ll start at the top with Jason Statham, who’s been one of my favorite action movie stars over the past ten years or so. As he almost always is, he’s excellent here. He’s extremely believable in the part, except of course when he dives into the water for a hand to hand combat session with the supersized shark. Perhaps he should apply to become a Marvel superhero?

Even so, Statham does a good job making the ludicrous situations he finds himself in believable. His scenes with the little girl at the station, Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cal) are precious, and Shuya Sophia Cal is adorable and entertaining in the role.

Li Bingbing plays Suyin, Zhang’s daughter and Meiying’s mother.  She’s pretty much the lead scientist on the expedition, and she is definitely not a heroine in need of saving. She pretty much goes toe to toe with Statham’s Jonas Taylor, and the two of them lead the charge against the shark. She’s also very sexy.

Rainn Wilson, who played Dwight on THE OFFICE (2005-2013) plays the wealthy businessman who finances the expedition. He’s the guy you love to hate.

Cliff Curtis, who played Travis on FEAR THE WALKING DEAD (2015-17), is very good here as Jonas’ friend Mac. Likewise, Winston Chao is convincing as Zhang, as is Ruby Rose as the sexy engineer Jaxx who designed the deep-sea station.

Robert Taylor stands out as Heller, the doctor at the station who was there that fateful day when Jonas failed to rescue everyone from the nuclear sub, and for the past five years he had blamed Jonas for their deaths, claiming he had become unhinged. When the mega shark appears, Heller is quick to apologize to Jonas. Taylor, who plays Sheriff Walt Longmire on the TV show LONGMIRE (2012-2017), probably gives the best performance in the movie.

Olafur Darri Olafsson and Masi Oka are also very good as a couple of scientists, and likewise Jessica McNamee is memorable as Jonas’ ex-wife Lori.

Only Page Kennedy doesn’t  fare as well, as scientist DJ. He’s the one black character on the crew, and he’s also supposed to be the film’s comic relief, but a lot of the jokes I thought were cliché, and I think the one person of color in the movie deserved a better written role.

As shark movies go, THE MEG is one of the better ones. It’s a much stronger film than the recent 47 METERS DOWN (2017), and more fun than  THE SHALLOWS (2016).

That being said, it still pales in comparison to the Holy Grail of shark movies, JAWS (1975). It’s not intense like JAWS, and it’s certainly not realistic like JAWS. However, during the film’s third act, there are several nods to the 1975 Steven Spielberg classic.

THE MEG is a lot of fun, and as such, for a summer time popcorn movie, it comes highly recommended.

—END—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: THE FUNHOUSE (1981)

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Tobe Hooper, the famed horror movie director who passed away on August 26, 2017 at the age of 74, is mostly known for his classic horror movie, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974).  Many horror writers swear by this movie and cite it as their inspiration for entering the genre.

Other fans prefer Hooper’s work on SALEM’S LOT (1979), the chilling made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s vampire novel.

A smaller group opt for today’s movie, THE FUNHOUSE (1981), Hooper’s entry in the 1980s slasher flick craze, a genre which received a nice kick in the pants with John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978).

I’m a sucker for films which take place at amusement parks or carnivals, and so, while THE FUNHOUSE is not my favorite Tobe Hooper film, it does capture what it’s like to be a teenager at a carnival on a sultry summer evening.  The sights, the sounds, and even the smells, as you can easily imagine the aroma of fried foods, hot buttered popcorn, sweet cotton candy, and of course the repugnant stench of full garbage cans, and the occasional sour sting of leftover vomit on the cement pathways.

As a result, THE FUNHOUSE is a guilty pleasure for me.

I mentioned HALLOWEEN, and one of the weaker parts of THE FUNHOUSE is its opening sequence, in which it pretty much copies the opening sequence in HALLOWEEN, complete with the child killer with a knife and the point-of-view shots from the child’s eyes as seen through a Halloween mask.  I’m sure Hooper intended it as an homage, but since this movie came out just three years after HALLOWEEN, it doesn’t come off that way.

This same scene also includes a shower sequence, and so there’s also an obvious nod to Hitchcock’s PSYCHO (1960).  This homage works better than the nod to HALLOWEEN since it’s less derivative.

In THE FUNHOUSE, teen Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) can’t wait to get out of the house, away from her stifling parents, and if you spent five minutes with the folks playing her parents in this movie, you’d want to get out of the house as well!  They sit like zombies watching television and speak in monotones and spew parental clichés when they talk to their daughter.  With these parents, it’s a wonder that Amy isn’t the masked killer in this movie!

Anyway, on this particular summer night, Amy sneaks off with her friends and heads off to the local carnival, even after her father told her she was not allowed to go there, which, of course, is exactly why she decides to go to the carnival.  Well, actually, to her credit, she tries to resist at first, but her friends convince her to go, and she gives in.

At the carnival, since they’re crazy teenagers, they come up with the daring idea to sneak into the funhouse and stay there overnight.  Too bad for them the guy working the ride wearing a Frankenstein mask happens to be a murderous psycho.  It’s going to be a long night, Amy.

So, what was supposed to be a wild night goofing around inside a funhouse turns into a night of terror as this insane monster chases Amy and her friends through the funhouse with the intent of killing them in various nasty ways.

And there you have the plot of THE FUNHOUSE.  As horror movies go, it’s a fun enough story.

That being said, for me, THE FUNHOUSE has always been a poor man’s HALLOWEEN.  It comes off as cheaper, the acting isn’t as good, and the scares are nowhere near as effective, but it’s still a heck of a lot of fun to watch, especially on a hot summer night.

One of the more memorable parts of THE FUNHOUSE is the Monster, played by Wayne Doba.  At first, he wears a Frankenstein mask, which is creepy enough, but when he takes his mask off, his face is hideous.  It’s a cool looking make-up job, which is no surprise since the man behind the make-up here is none other than Rick Baker.

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Wayne Doba as the Monster in THE FUNHOUSE (1981).

Actually, the creepiest part of THE FUNHOUSE isn’t the Monster. It’s Kevin Conway’s performance as three different ride operators.  He plays the Freak Show Barker, the Strip Show Barker, and the Funhouse Barker, and he’s effectively unsettling as all three.  He’s really creepy, and the funny thing is, he reminds me of a lot of ride operators I used to see at amusement parks and carnivals when I was a kid.  Yup, there used to be some pretty unsavory looking characters running those rides back in the day.

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“Come on, kiddos.  Ride my ride!  It’s fun!”    Kevin Conway operating a ride in THE FUNHOUSE (1981).

And Conway’s Funhouse Barker gets the most screen time as it’s revealed that he’s the stepfather of the Monster.  How about that for a family portrait!

Also working against THE FUNHOUSE is in spite of its premise, it’s never all that scary. The scare scenes for the most part involve the Monster chasing the teens through the Funhouse which sounds scarier than it actually is.

The best part about THE FUNHOUSE is the way Tobe Hooper captures the essence of a summer time carnival.  That’s the main reason I like to watch this one.

Lawrence Block wrote the screenplay, and the story it tells is compelling enough:  a group of teens spending the night in a creepy funhouse, and it has a frightening looking Monster, but pretty much everything else about this one is rather standard.

Tobe Hooper will be remembered most for his work on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.  But it’s always fun to look beyond an artist’s best or most popular work and look at those projects which weren’t the best things they ever did. It’s how we gain and understand the complete story of the artist.

With that in mind, grab a cotton candy or a candy apple, sneak past that guy wearing a Frankenstein mask, and when no one’s looking, hide.  Now, you’re all set to spend the night inside THE FUNHOUSE.  You’re sure to have a good time.

And with a little luck, you may even survive.

—END—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: JAWS 2 (1978)

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jaws-2-movie-posterIN THE SPOOKLIGHT
BY
MICHAEL ARRUDA

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water—.”
As movie taglines go, this one from JAWS 2 (1978) is one of the best. It also just might be the most memorable part of the entire movie.
To be fair, no sequel was ever going to match Steven Spielberg’s original JAWS (1975).
That being said, I happen to like JAWS 2, although not as much as I did when I first saw it at the movies in 1978 when I was 14 years-old. Back then, I quickly declared it the best movie of the summer, and I liked it almost as much as the original. What can I say? I was young. I was also influenced by a sold-out crowd that was brimming with energy and enthusiasm. The audience cheered during the opening credits when Roy Scheider’s name appeared on screen, just as they had done when Scheider had destroyed the shark at the end of JAWS, and there were plenty of screams and shouts as the movie went on.
Of course, the reality is JAWS 2 is merely an adequate movie, paling in comparison to the original JAWS, and suffering from the repetitiveness from which so many movie sequels suffer. Still, JAWS 2 is far and away the best of the JAWS sequels, which isn’t saying much, since JAWS 3 (1983) and JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) are both pretty awful.
JAWS 2 opens with a pair of divers discovering the sunken wreckage of the Orca, Quint’s boat from the first movie. Within minutes, the divers are attacked and killed by a shark in a surprisingly tame scene that is vastly inferior to the opening scene in JAWS, the vicious attack on young Chrissy.
JAWS 2 once again takes place on Amity Island, which now looks much bigger, since this sequel was filmed in Florida rather than on tiny Martha’s Vineyard. Four years have passed since the events of JAWS, and Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is still police chief on the island.
When Brody learns of a possible shark attack, he tries to take action but his efforts are thwarted by Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and local businessman Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo), whose priorities are keeping the tourist season open and making money. Things get so bad this time around that Brody is actually fired from his position as police chief.
But the shark problem is real, and this time the shark sets its teeth—er, sights— on a group of teenagers— including Brody’s two sons— out sailing. Once more, it’s up to Chief Brody to save the day, as he sets off alone in a boat to take on the shark and rescue the teens, which on its own is no easy task, but it’s even more daunting in this case because Brody lives in deathly fear of water.

JAWS 2 definitely suffers from “been there, done that.” You would think that Mayor Vaughn would have learned his lesson after the first movie, but no, he’s still not listening to Brody. He is slightly more sympathetic this time around, as businessman Len Peterson takes over the pain-in-the-ass heavy role. Peterson gets most of the aggravating lines, and Joseph Mascolo does a nice job making you hate the guy.
But the biggest problem with JAWS 2 is that the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The movie asks us to believe that a second great white shark returns to the same island where another shark had wreaked havoc just a few years earlier. What are the odds? To make matters worse, the film tries to imply that this shark has arrived to seek vengeance for the death of the first shark. Really? This is a theme which permeates the series, as subsequent sequels deal with sharks targeting Brody’s wife and adult sons.
If you’re going to throw something that outlandish into the story, you’d better back it up with some facts or some embellishments to get the audience to buy into it, but JAWS 2 doesn’t do this. It’s almost as the film couldn’t make up its mind if it wanted to go all in with its revenge plot. It’s mentioned, and then it’s forgotten.
The best part of JAWS 2 is the return of Roy Scheider as Martin Brody. He’s excellent once again, and he’s largely responsible for making this the best of the sequels, since he doesn’t appear in the next two movies. The film tries to shake things up by giving more screen time to Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) and Martin’s deputy from the first film, Jeff Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer), and while Gary and Kramer are both very good in these roles, they’re not Richard Dreyfuss or Robert Shaw, who are both greatly missed in this sequel.
While director Jeannot Szwarc does an adequate job at the helm, he’s no Steven Spielberg. The camera just never gets in close enough to really get under your skin. In JAWS, Spielberg’s camera always seemed to be hovering around water level, and with the shark lurking, the effect made you always want to turn away.
Szwarc also decides to show the shark much more than Spielberg did, and while the shark actually looks pretty good, it doesn’t always translate into scary scenes.
That being said, there are some very good scenes in JAWS 2. The attack on one of the teens, Eddie, is as intense as anything seen in the original, and the sequence with the water skier is exciting and suspenseful. Unfortunately, there’s also some not-so-good scenes, like the over-the-top sequence where the shark actually attacks a helicopter. But for the most part, the shark scenes in JAWS 2 are a lot of fun to watch.
The second half of JAWS 2 focuses on the teenagers in their sailboats fighting off the shark, and so the film almost follows the teen slasher formula, which got a boost the same year with the release of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978).
John Williams returns as the film’s music composer, and while it would be ludicrous to say this score is better than his original JAWS score, it is an excellent score. His JAWS theme is back, of course, and he also introduces other themes that were not present in the first movie.
The screenplay by Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler succeeds in telling an exciting story, even if its premise of a shark that attacks an island perhaps out of revenge doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. It also doesn’t feature anywhere near the slate of memorable lines that came out of the first JAWS— that screenplay was co-written by Gottlieb and JAWS author Peter Benchley.
JAWS 2 is not a cinematic classic like its predecessor, but it is a heck of a lot of fun and makes for perfect summer time horror viewing. Just slap on some sun tan lotion, flip on the shades, and settle back in your beach chair, and as you listen to the sounds of happy beach goers and crashing ocean waves, just wait, because soon you’ll hear the ominous notes of John Williams’ music score and then—.
Is that a shark fin I see?
—END—

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: JAWS 2 (1978)

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Roy Scheider looks to the ocean and wonders, can it be happening to me again?--- in JAWS 2 (1978).  Other than Scheider, there's not much that's memorable about this JAWS sequel.

Roy Scheider looks to the ocean and wonders, can it be happening to me again?— in JAWS 2 (1978). Other than Scheider, there’s not much that’s memorable about this JAWS sequel.

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES:  JAWS 2 (1978)

by

Michael Arruda

 

Welcome to another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, that column where we look at memorable quotes from some pretty neat movies.

Up today, since we’re winding down summer and I’m not in a hurry to see it end, we look at quotes from JAWS 2 (1978).

I still remember seeing JAWS 2 at the movies on its opening night back in the summer of 1978.  I was fourteen, and I was incredibly excited to see this sequel, since I had seen JAWS at the movies on its first run in 1975, when I was just eleven, and it scared the stuffing out of me, and then some!  I wasn’t the only one who was excited to see JAWS 2.  The theater was packed and the audience was buzzing with energy, and I still remember when Roy Scheider’s name appeared in the opening credits, the audience cheered, just like they had done when he had finally destroyed the shark in the original JAWS.  The movie had been that intense.

I loved JAWS 2 when I first saw it on that opening night way back in 1978.  Of course, I was just fourteen years old.  Nowadays, I realize it pales in comparison to the first JAWS, but it remains the best of the three JAWS sequels, largely because Roy Scheider returned as Sheriff Martin Brody.

So, as you would imagine, most of the best lines in JAWS 2 belong to Scheider’s Brody.  Let’s take a look at some of these lines of dialogue from JAWS 2, screenplay by Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler, based on characters created by Peter Benchley.

Actually, my favorite quote from JAWS 2 isn’t a quote at all, but the tagline from the movie:

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water—

 This line proved so popular it actually became somewhat of a catchphrase for the movie.  This line might be the most memorable part of the entire movie, which really isn’t all that good.  But Roy Scheider is good, and he makes the most of his scenes in his reprisal of the role of Chief Martin Brody, the sheriff of Amity Island, once again faced with the prospect of a hungry great white shark on the prowl at his beaches.  This doesn’t really make much sense, which is the biggest problem JAWS 2 has, that its plot isn’t all that credible.  To make matters worse, there are hints in this film that perhaps the second shark has arrived at the island to seek revenge for the death of the first shark.  This might have been more interesting had this idea been better developed, but it’s not.  It’s hinted at here and there, but nothing really comes of it.

Anyway, Scheider’s Brody does get the best lines in the movie, like this one when he’s trying to once again convince the mayor and the town council to close the beaches, in a speech that was featured heavily in the film’s original trailers:

BRODY:  But I’m telling you, and I’m telling everybody at this table that that’s a shark!  And I know what a shark looks like, because I’ve seen one up close.  And you’d better do something about this one, because I don’t intend to go through that hell again!

 

Even though Murray Hamilton reprises his role as Mayor Vaughn in JAWS 2, he’s not the main thorn in Brody’s side, as he was in the first film. He seems to have learned his lesson and is much more sympathetic and understanding towards Brody this time around.  The pain in this movie is local businessman Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo) who wants no part of closing the beaches and refuses to listen to Brody.

Brody tries in vain to convince Peterson that the picture he is looking at shows a shark in their waters.

PETERSON:  Brody, this is nothing!  Seaweed, mud, something on the lens—.

BRODY:  Lens my ass!

PETERSON:  You’re damn right it’s your ass!

 

Also returning from the original JAWS is Jeffrey Kramer as Deputy Hendricks, Brody’s deputy, and once again he’s involved in some of the movie’s more comical scenes, such as in this scene where Brody wants to get out of an annoying conversation with one of the islanders:

BRODY:  Oh, Hendricks, good!  Right this way.  Excuse us, please.  I want you to come in here and er, check out this 908.

HENDRICKS:  What the hell’s a 908?  I’ve never heard of a 908!

BRODY:  908 means get me outta there!

 

In this scene, Hendricks is in the police launch with crusty fisherman Red as they drag the ocean looking for evidence.

RED:  We’ve been over this a dozen times.

HENDRICKS:  I know, I know!

RED:  How much longer?

HENDRICKS:  Until we find something!

RED:  But I’m cold, bored.

HENDRICKS:  You’re bored?

 

Later, when Brody and Hendricks are both on the water in search of the group of teens who had gone sailing and are now missing, Brody asks his deputy for directions.

BRODY:  Where the hell are they?

HENDRICKS:  About ten degrees off your starboard bow.  You take—.

BRODY:  Don’t give me that shit.  Point!

 

At one point, a dead killer whale washes up on the beach, with massive bite wounds prominently exposed all over its body.  Brody examines the dead whale with scientist Dr. Elkins.

BRODY:  Better check the bite radius.

ELKINS: The what?

BRODY:   The shape of the mouth.

ELKINS: The whale’s mouth?

BRODY:  Shark’s mouth.

ELKINS: What shark?

BRODY:  The shark that did this.

 

And moments later:

 

BRODY:  It’s obvious that a big fish took a bite out of— this big fish.

ELKINS: This is a mammal. Not a fish.

BRODY:  Don’t quibble with me!  Is it a shark bite or isn’t it?

ELKINS: Possibly. Again, this is a killer whale.  It would have to be a shark of considerable size.

 

And when Brody tries to insinuate that perhaps this shark might be there because another shark was killed in the local waters, Dr. Elkins replies:

ELKINS: Sharks don’t take things personally, Mr. Brody.

 

And we finish with Brody’s line to the Helicopter pilot, as Brody is in a boat all by himself searching for the missing teens, and of course this is an issue for Brody because not only is he fearful of the shark, but he’s afraid of water in general.  He’s speaking on the radio with the helicopter pilot, hoping that the pilot will find the teens before he does.

HELICOPTER PILOT:  That you, Brody?

BRODY:  Listen, did you have a fix on those kids yet?

HELICOPTER PILOT:  Negative.  I’m still down.

BRODY:  Well, you’d better get the hell up because I’m out here all alone!

 

JAWS 2 is an okay sequel, nowhere near as good as the original, yet it remains mildly entertaining in spite of its silly premise, mostly because of Roy Scheider’s performance as Sheriff Brody.  I still enjoy watching Scheider time and time again.

Well, that’s it for now.  Hope you enjoyed today’s column, and I’ll see you next time when we look at memorable quotes from another fun movie.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

 

Classic horror movies to get you in the mood for summer

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Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss in JAWS (1975)

Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss in JAWS (1975)

It’s the Fourth of July Weekend, the holiday where we in the United States celebrate Independence Day.  It’s a time for barbecues, beaches, and fireworks, swimming pools, sun tan lotion, hot dogs, hamburgers, and outdoor concerts.

It’s also a time for great summer movies, especially horror movies.  If you’re like me, who watches horror movies year round, there are a host of classic horror films that fit in quite nicely with the summer season.

The ultimate July 4th horror movie, without question, is JAWS (1975).  Heck, a key sequence in the film take place on the 4th of July weekend.  But there are other horror movies as well that will put you in the summer holiday mood.

Here’s a brief partial list of some classic summer horror movies:

JAWS (1975) – The biggie, the ultimate man vs. fish story.  This one’s so much fun you’ll need a bigger boat to enjoy it.

JAWS 2 (1978) – Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water—.

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) – This classic 50s monster flick from Universal Studios about a group of scientists trapped and terrorized in an Amazonian lagoon by the titled Creature who only wants to ask beautiful scientist Julia Adams on a date will have you itching for that next boat trip in no time.  The Gill Man—aka The Creature— remains one of the most iconic movie monsters ever.

REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955) – Likable sequel pulls the Creature out of the Amazon and puts him inside a Sea World-like amusement park, where there’s plenty of victims— er, patrons abound.  Hey, it stars John Agar!  Pack up the car and head off to your local aquarium!

THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956) – Yup, there were just too many mad scientists around in the 1950s.  The guys in this flick try to turn the Creature into an air breather.  Settle for a summer haircut instead.

PIRANHA (1978) – Joe Dante’s fun flick from the 70s still has plenty of bite!  Last one in the water still has skin!

THEM! (1954) – Clean up after you eat.  The ants in this one are huge!  One of the scarier films from the 1950s, certainly one of the best “giant bug” movies ever made.

TARANTULA (1955) – Ants don’t scare you?  What about spiders?  How about a tarantula that can sit on your house?  John Agar’s back, this time battling an overgrown spider in this Universal monster classic.  Look fast for Clint Eastwood flying a fighter plane in the film’s conclusion.

THE SPIDER  (aka EARTH VS. THE SPIDER) (1958) – A giant spider again, this time out to eat 1950s teenagers.  Crank up the rock music.

HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980) –Doug McClure stars in this silly flick about sea monster mutants who kill men and rape women.  Not the best date movie.

THE DEEP (1977) – JAWS author Peter Benchley wrote this tale (both the novel and the screenplay) starring Robert Shaw, Nick Nolte, and Jacqueline Bisset about underwater treasure and a very scary eel.  Beautifully shot but ultimately not all that exciting.  Definitely for those of you who like quiet horror.

IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955) – Ray Harryhausen special effects are the highlight of this giant octopus tale.

And on and on I could go.  There are so many.  But we’ll save those for another time.

What are some of your favorite summer movies?

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

—Michael