If you love Jaws(and who the hell doesn’t?!) and you ever find yourself in Staten Island, be sure to make a pit stop at the restaurant 494 Chicken, located on 3785 Victory Blvd. As reported by SiLive.com this week, 494 Chicken is the unlikely current resting place for the original shark prop that was used for Universal’s now-defunct Jaws ride back in 1990!
The 13-foot replica of the movie’s shark now hangs high above a set of tables in the restaurant, making it a desired seating location for the fans who will surely be coming through.
“We’re just really big ‘Jaws’ fans,” owner John Ryan told the site. “Someone advertised that they had the original ‘Jaws’ model and I knew I had to see it to believe it.”
He added, “It was a lot of work [getting it inside], but it actually inspired us to bring our collection to the restaurant. We’re in the process of making our own little ‘Jaws’ area.”
The eagle-eyed administrators at The Daily Jaws Twitter account noticed that a certain prominent Simpsons actor appeared on the film’s IMDB Page: Harry Shearer, who lends his voice characters including Ned Flanders, Montgomery Burns, Reverend Lovejoy, Waylon Smithers, Dr. Hibbert, and even the stoned-out bus driver Otto Mann (bet you never knew his last name before).
On Jaws’ IMDB page, Shearer is listed as an uncredited beachgoer. @thedailyjawswas keen to know if the sometimes-unreliable database was correct and went right to the source; a Thanksgiving tweet also inquired in Shearers is actually visible in the film? Luckily, Shearer replied both confirming and denying that he is indeed in Jaws.
Let me explain: Shearer responded that he was part of an early “loop group”, a crew of voice actors who made stock recordings of situations to be used in the background of films and TV shows. They’d cram into a single studio and act out scenarios, such as a raging party, a somber funeral, or an alien invasion. It was one of Shearer’s “loop tapes”, a day at the beach scenario, that made its way into Steven Spielberg’s early opus, Jaws.
So, is Shearer in Jaws? His voice is, though most likely buried in a jumble of background noise, indecipherable and indistinguishable. Still, it was enough to earn him an IMDB credit on one of the most classic and enduring horror movies ever made. Ironically, Shearer also revealed that he was once incorrectly listed as a cast member in Space Balls!
To this day I and many others have a fear of the ocean. That uncertainty about what could be lurking below you when you’re out there beyond the shallows. A helplessness born of being out of our element. The knowledge that there are things down there that might just graze a foot, but might also take a nibble at it.
This fear is probably more widespread than it should be because of that Summer of 1975 when a young punk named Steven Spielberg brought the terror of Jaws to cinemas and forever tarnished the rep of Great White Sharks and idiotic Mayors everywhere.
Bruce’s Digital History
Despite arriving at the infancy of video games, Jaws found itself in a digital form very quickly, albeit unofficially.
Atari had sought to license a shark-avoiding arcade game as a tie-in to the movie, but Universal Pictures did not accept. This did not stop Atari, who retitled it Shark JAWS (with the word ‘Shark’ deliberately made almost unreadable in the title) and published what is now believed to be the first ever movie tie-in video game (again, in a rather unofficial sense).
It would be another 12 years before we’d see ol’ Brucey in video game form, showing up on the NES in a loose tie-in based on the risible Jaws: The Revenge. It featured a snippet of John Williams score and focused on fighting not only the titular toothy one, but other angry sea creatures as well.
All adaptations followed one clear rule. It was the player vs the shark. It would be a staggering 19 years after the Nintendo Jaws title (and 31 years after the first Shark JAWS) before we had somebody turn around and say ‘Yeah, but what if you could be the shark?’
And lo, Jaws Unleashed was born, and the world was given a silly, over the top slice of shark power fantasy nonsense.
A Legend Unleashed
The developer to do it? Appaloosa Interactive, a developer founded in Hungary during the early 80’s and swimming in moderate success ever since on over 150 titles.
Appaloosa had experience not only with handling licensed game projects (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Crossroads of Time, and South Park among them), but also with ocean-based action as it was responsible for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Ecco the Dolphin games, perhaps the developer’s most notable work.
Jaws Unleashed, in a reverse of Shark JAWS, started life as an unlicensed shark game known as Sole Predator before gaining the Jaws license. The game was to be treated as a sequel to the original film, set 30 years after Brody blew Bruce into so many chunks. If Jaws: The Revenge had seemed like a daft idea for a story, then Appaloosa was going all out to make it seem somewhat sensible when the absurdity of Jaws Unleashed’s plot was detailed.
Amity Island is now thriving, the population is higher than it has ever been and corporations such as Environplus are boosting the local economy. What a perfect time to be a shark. And guess what? You. Are. Jaws! Which one I don’t know. Must be the shark equivalent of ‘John Smith’ as far as names go.
Jaws (you) rocks up at Amity Island and promptly eats the son of Environplus CEO Steven Shaw. Naturally, Shaw is a bit miffed about this and employs a shark hunter to eliminate you. Thankfully (for Jaws, not the many, many people he’ll end up chomping on) Michael Brody (yeah, keeping it in the family) manages to capture Jaws (not until after a few passes at the seaside buffet have been made by the hulking shark) and thanks to his research as a marine biologist, he discovers that it’s because of the sonic emissions coming off Environplus’ submarines that are making sharks a bit grumpy.
In a homage to the original film/lack of creative thought towards the plot, Brody tries to convince the Mayor of the problem. Of course, the Mayor ignores the warning because what could be more Jaws than that? His Royal Chompyness naturally escapes (getting his chomp on with a captive Orca along the way) and the game opens up. You’re now a shark in an open world with a fast n’ loose remit for destruction and bloodbaths, the potential is giddying.
Dead in the Water
The reality was unfortunately not quite so. Jaws Unleashed was born a glitch-ridden monster, with conventional mission structure often shoehorned in where it shouldn’t be applicable (human tasks clumsily-applied to a sodding Great White Shark). It also suffered from being needlessly pedestrian far too often for a game about eating things as a giant shark.
Yet when Jaws Unleashed embraced its sheer absurdity, it rose above its failings admirably. What was absurd about Jaws Unleashed exactly? Well, you could upgrade Jaws. Not with +7 armor and a sword of Smileyasonofabitch, but with abilities. The toothsome one could learn how to do moves like the ‘Body Bomb’ where Jaws would fling himself into the air at a ludicrous height and bomb back down on a target. You had to keep eating to prevent your health from diminishing (on top of regular damage).
During the hours you spend with Jaws Unleashed, you’ll see a shark catch and throw an explosive barrel at an oil pipeline on purpose. The result of which is the complete destruction of an Environplus refinery. Jaws also obliterates an undersea facility, eats the Mayor and Shaw, and to top it off, survives having a bomb dropped on him, having already been in close proximity to several explosions beforehand.
The game is utter nonsense and a technical garbage fire, but there’s a strange charm to its shonky daftness that sort of holds up to this day (albeit for ten minutes at best). It’s a procession of admirably stupid moments. Moments such as seeing a shark flip and twist in the air like it was in SSX Tricky. Or having to work out how to use key cards (solution: eat the guy with the key card). Or simply causing insane amounts premeditated carnage despite being a supposedly regular shark. The battles with other sea creatures are of interest, at least in fleeting terms. Jaws gets to battle other sharks, an orca, a blue whale and a giant squid along the way.
Critics weren’t particularly enamored with Jaws Unleashed at launch. The average score on PlayStation 2 was an underwhelming 52/100 (pretty much awful in the strange world of video game scoring). That didn’t stop it performing well commercially. Jaws Unleashed closed in on half a million sales over three platforms.
Jaws Unleashed is also sadly the final resting place for its developer. After 24 years in the business, Appaloosa Interactive ceased operations shortly after the release of Jaws Unleashed in 2006. For a developer best known for the elegant undersea adventures of Ecco the Dolphin, bowing out with a crude, over the top tale of a vengeance-driven shark feels somewhat ungracious.
We have an extra special spooky treat for this edition of Metal & Mike. As you may remember a couple months ago, we announced a partnership with New Noise Magazine, sponsoring a massive US and Canadian tour with Carach Angren! The tour began in September and will be running close to the end of October. I had the chance to interview keyboardist/orchestral genius Clemens “Ardek” Wijers to learn more about the band’s writing process, live shows, and his love for horror.
Regarding his excitement in embarking on this tour, Wijers says, “We felt it was time to finally go [out on] a headline tour, as the fans have been asking for this a lot and we absolutely feel like doing it. It is fantastic to have both Dread Central and New Noise Magazine aboard the horror ship!”
“The fans from the US and Canada have always been among the most dedicated ones, so we always have an incredible time playing [in both countries]. A lot of them have been long-time followers since our first release, and it is because of them and their dedication that all of this is possible in the first place; so we are very grateful and feel an enormous drive and responsibility to bring another sick horror music show!”
Wijers also shares his excitement for the lineup, as well as for the surprises they have in store. “We are bringing over a killer line-up consisting of melodic death metallers [sic] Mors Principium Est and Wolfheart, both hailing from Finland. It is their first live appearance in the US, so you don’t want to miss that. We will bring our new horror show, and because we have an extended set, we will play some surprises the fans have long been hoping for.”
If you somehow have never heard of Carach Angren then now is the time to get caught up. With five studio albums under their belt, they have continuously proven themselves to be masters of symphonic black metal and lovers of horror. “[My love for horror] begun in my early childhood,” Wijers says. “I always have been fascinated by monsters, ghosts, anything dark; that was even reflected in the arrangement of toys I possessed as a little boy. As I grew older, I was more and more attracted to horror movies and horror stories, especially the ones that scared the hell out of me. I saw Stephen King’s IT, the original series, when I was about ten years old, and for the following two weeks I had a hard time brushing my teeth near a sink; always remembering the scene where blood spurts out of it in the series haha!”
Speaking to the abilities horror has as an art form, Wijers states, “Horror, unlike any other genre, can function like a gateway into a wide variety of experiences and emotions like mystery, fear, anger, religious matters, action, adventure and on an on. It enables us as creators to tell stories without being restricted. Horror is one of the few artistic forms or channels — if done well — that can excite and overwhelm us. Personally, I’m much more attracted to books lately than movies, as a well-written horror story triggers my mind to create the actual scenes in my mind. I find that a much more satisfying effort than the ‘everything-in-your-face‘ style that a lot of movies deploy these days.”
The horror that attracts Wijers is that which alludes to danger. “I feel that the perfect horror story is one that provokes you with a truly scary, or at least fascinating idea, without giving the listener or viewer the exact image or form in which it is represented. A perfect example of this is the movie ‘Jaws.’ The terror comes from the fantastic score, the floating barrels successfully giving you the illusion that there is a monster dragging them along throughout the water. In the whole movie, you barely see the shark; it’s the absence, the unknown, the lurking danger that makes this a successful horror movie in my opinion.”
“I don’t want to be negative, but I feel that movies, especially the blockbusters these days, are lacking more and more depth. Everything is in your face; there is almost no story, no danger, no suspense. CGI looks amazing, but it is still… Computer Graphic Imagery, no matter how well it is done. I always feel I’m looking at a good animated movie, but you can feel it is not real.”
That said, he adds, “There are some exceptions though; I highly enjoyed the horror movie ‘Get Out’ for example. Here the suspense [and] being confused are the main elements that make the viewing experience so successful. I wish more movies would do that, give the viewer’s intelligence some credit and make them work for it and not serve everything right out on a plate.”
Wijers speaks further to his love for horror novels and how they help him find inspiration. “I have been an avid reader [for] years now, and recently I have been reading more and more classical horror and Gothic stories, and I’m incredibly fascinated by the richness I’m discovering. Right now I’m reading ‘The Castle of Ontranto’ by Horace Walpole. Written in 1764, [the book] is now considered to be one of the first Gothic horror novels. I find so much inspiration from reading these tales, and it is hard to explain what it is that attracts me so much to them. Probably it is the pace of the storytelling, which is much calmer and allows me to visualise [sic] what is happening in a much more profound way.”
The music of Carach Angren is full of horror appeal; from the haunting lyricism and vocals to the thundering chills of their instrumentation, the trio brings forth a tremendous amount of atmosphere into their work. Their entire discography has focused on tales of horror, including everything from ghosts to different kinds of folklore. Wijers enjoys the lyrical element of their music, especially in the little surprises he leaves throughout his words. “With Carach Angren,” he shares, “we try to tell stories, throughout individual songs and whole albums. I like to put hidden clues in the lyrics and stories for fans to track down. It’s not for everyone, and that’s why we strive to have both highly enjoyable killer metal tracks, and [the] storytelling for the listeners who crave that as part of the overall experience. Live, we deploy a lot of visual effects to heighten the atmosphere and experience. Seregor [vocalist/guitarist] is an extremely talented frontman [and] an incredible visual artist [who along with Ivo (drums/percussion) creates the] many masks and props we use during our show.”
For many of us metalheads and horror lovers, the combination of the two mediums makes complete sense. They are both such extreme forces that provide a blend of entertainment, as well as enlightenment. Wijers see how the two art forms complement one another, intertwining in their raw emotional power. In the case of Carach Angren, however, alongside their standard heavy instrumentation comes the use of classical instruments; the band is known to involve string instruments like violins into their work, providing a Gothic touch to their sound.
“To me,” Wijers states, “[metal and horror] are so intertwined that [I] actually don’t really see them as separate. It’s because I have always focused on the more darker parts of heavy metal since the beginning. The classical instrumentation lends itself perfectly to give the music a dark and intrusive edge. I mean, it’s challenging to play scary [sounds] on a flute (although there are ways haha), as the instrument’s nature encourages you to play softly; for example [sounds similar to] romantic music. The same goes for a typical heavy metal setup of loud distorted guitars, drums, and deep rattling bass guitar. It encourages you to push it hard and come up with aggressive, powerful music. Likewise, horror as a genre is always very powerful, either through terrifying storytelling, imagery or dreadful suspense.”
2017’s Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten is a concept record around the use of an Ouija board; it explores the dark curiosities of the human mind and heart, and how they can lead to some terrifying (even violent) places. It was more of a personal writing process, sprouting from the creativity of the band (not necessarily related to any folklore). Wijers says he has already been working on a new and terrifying musical experience. Going into his process, he discusses the amount of research, as well as challenges involved, in creating the new record to come.
“After the release of ‘Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten’ we didn’t have anything lying around really; but now a year after, I can tell you that I’m onto something that is really turning out to be very dark and sinister. I have actually been doing research on a topic to develop a story throughout the whole summer. I have been reading books, talked to scientists, and visited places to trigger inspiration. I won’t reveal the direction or the subject because there is no fun in that haha. But yes, I take [my creative process] very seriously, and it always is hard work, especially after so many albums. It is not easy to come up with new music, new stories after having released already five full-length albums and two EP’s.”
He continues, “We don’t want to repeat ourselves, yet not go into a completely different direction. That is the biggest challenge, to walk this delicate balance between originality and the familiar quality we and fans have come to expect. I like original ideas for a story, and I need time to develop it. Right now I’m looking into three different subjects, and what happens is that suddenly in the middle of a day, I get a crazy idea that is a blend of everything I have been studying and reading. This is how the different elements of a new story and music are born.”
For Carach Angren, there is a genuine desire in establishing suspense and goosebumps; each album embodies haunting atmospheres and unspeakable madness, promising for exhilarating experiences. Whatever their new record may bring will undoubtedly carry with the band’s horror spirit. Blending stage theatrics with Gothic lyricism and heavy instrumentation, Carach Angren make for a sensationally eerie, wicked act.
If you have yet to see Carach Angren on this current tour then do not miss out! You can find the remainder of the tour dates below, as well as the video for their song “Charles Francis Coghlan”. If you want to purchase a copy of Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten, you can do so via Bandcamp or the Season of Mist store. You can also find past Metal & Mike articles here, and follow more of my work via Twitter.
10/12 Los Angeles, CA – 1720
10/13 Santa Ana, CA – Malone’s
10/14 Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar
10/15 San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick
10/16 Mesa, AZ – Club Red
10/18 Austin, TX – Come and Take it Live!
10/19 Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Bar & Grill
10/20 Houston, TX – Acadia
10/21 New Orleans, LA – Southport Hall
10/22 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
10/23 Orlando, FL – The Haven
10/24 Spartanburg, SC – Ground Zero
10/25 Richmond, VA – Canal Club
10/26 Clifton, NJ – Dingbatz
10/27 Manchester, NH – Jewel Nightclub
10/28 New York, NY – Gramercy Theater
I can’t help but roll my eyes whenever anyone says that the shark effects in Jawsdon’t hold up, because if you’re asking me, that animatronic shark still looks like the real deal over 40 years later. Jaws is a testament to the enduring effectiveness of practical effects work, but it seems star Richard Dreyfuss doesn’t agree. In fact, he wants CGI added atop the classic film.
Hey, even great actors have terrible ideas sometimes.
Speaking with Deadline, Dreyfuss just floated his awful, terrible, no good idea.
“There are people who say Jaws is a perfect film otherwise and it is amazing what Steven accomplished with the challenges he had,” Dreyfuss told the site. “But… they should put the money in to CGI [to replace] that beast and make it come alive. I think they should do it, it would be huge and it would open up the film to younger people.”
He added, “Is that blasphemy? No, no, I don’t think so. The technology now could make the shark look as good as the rest of the movie.”
Look, we get that modern CGI has gotten insanely good – the CG shark in The Shallows, in particular, looks fantastic – but Dreyfuss’s suggestion that the shark in Jaws doesn’t “look as good as the rest of the movie” is indeed kinda blasphemous. As is his suggestion that the *perfect* film could somehow be improved by messing with its incredible effects work.
“When E.T. was re-released, I actually digitized 5 shots where E.T. went from being a puppet to a digital puppet and I also replaced the gun when the F.B.I. runs up on the van, now they walkie talkies. So there’s a really bad version of E.T. where I took my cue from Star Wars and all of the digital enhancements of A New Hope that George put in, and I went ahead, because the marketing at Universal thought we need something to get an audience back and see the movie so I did a few touch up in the film; in those days, social media wasn’t as profound as it is today but what was just beginning, you know, erupted a loud, negative voice about how could you ruin our favorite childhood film by taking the guns away and putting walkie-talkies in their hands among other things.”
Spielberg continued, “So I learned a big lesson and that’s the last time I decided to ever mess with the past. What’s done is done… I’ll never go back.”
So don’t worry. Jaws is in safe hands. Bless you, Steven.
With the re-release of 1978’s Halloween taking place next week (the film returns to theaters on September 27th via CineLife Entertainment/Trancas International Films/Compass International Pictures), we’re continuing at HalloweenMovies.com our celebration of the John Carpenter classic, via a series of essays
Horror movies. They’re a staple of the culture of Halloween time, and almost all fans of Halloween are fans of the horror movie genre. One of the oldest genres of film, horror has grown slowly and greatly over a long period, developing subgenres and cult followings along the way. It’s also produced some of the most memorable movies in the history of film, and certainly some of the most memorable characters.
To celebrate the horror genre and its fans, Costume SuperCenter put together this infographic of five of the most interesting facts about the genre. There are some facts you may know, and some you may not, so before you put on your scary costume for Halloween make sure to let us know your favorite fact, especially if it’s not on the list! Happy haunting.