Tag Archives: Creature Features

[Creature Features] ‘JAWS’ – The Birth of the Blockbuster and Galeophobia

In the banner year of 1985, 10 years after the initial blockbuster smash release of the holiest of shark films JAWS, I had seen thine shining light they call Bruce for the first time in my tiny life.

I was three.

THREE-FUCKING-YEARS-OLD.

One could argue my Dad was a sadistic fuck in showing me what I absolutely consider, one of the top three scariest films of ALL TIME. Especially given the fact I wouldn’t even set a pair of feet on any beach for close to seven years after. True story: Having family in the Long Island area, Summer Beach days were very much a thing. However, I would make my Dad carry me across the sandy threshold to a spot I felt comfortable and far enough away from the water. The answer is yes: In my youthful way of thinking, I had concluded that JAWS was smart enough to get me even in the sand. But as long as I was on a towel and far enough away from the shore, all was ok. The answer here is also YES: It makes zero sense, I realize but hey, I was a kid so don’t judge too harsh!

Now that being said, my story is just one of thousands that were scared absolutely shitless after seeing the film, inducing GALEOPHOBIA into the minds of many. Proving without a shadow of a doubt, that JAWS is indeed, one of the scariest films of all time. We define horror as something that scares us. It’s a very versatile genre as what scares one, may not necessarily frighten another. Collectively, JAWS pretty much hit the nail on the head and caused quite a bit of both panic and interest in the beautiful monsters of the deep.

The following vintage clip from NBC NEWS uploaded by Youtube user COW MISSING showcases a little snippet of what ‘The Summer of JAWS’ looked like as far as the cultural impact the film had with its audiences.

Now on the other side of the coin, JAWS ultimately caused an almost global catastrophe for the creatures of the deep in the form of fear and panic; something humanity is very much guilty of with the most recent example given is the 2020 shortage of toilet paper. We are very much guilty of acting out in emotions first, and logic later. And these poor animals have suffered immensely for it. Mind you, I don’t place this blame on the book or film itself as that’s complete BULLSHIT. Every one of us is responsible for our own actions, thoughts, and doings. I only place blame on those who have chosen to use their own fears as an excuse to execute these wonderful animals for either sport, food, or pleasure. As a matter of fact, Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel shadows the event dubbed “The Twelve Days of Terror”, that served as inspiration for what we know as Bruce today.

In 1916, a series of shark attacks were recorded over on the New Jersey coastline killing four people and injuring five others. Also, interestingly enough, during a Polio Epidemic. So of course, under the duress of a record-breaking heatwave and pandemic, the media then fueled an already stressed populous into panic mode. Reports and analysis also suggest that the nature of the attacks were by a lone shark. Later, a Great White was caught during a shark hunt that was found to have human remains in its stomach. Was this shark the culprit? Possibly. I mean, hard to argue if there’s a human limb hanging out inside the belly of the thing.

Anyways, the release of JAWS just helped to reignite a surging fear and interest in the mysterious beast. As time heals all things however, the humanoids have become much more sympathetic and educated about our friends of the deep. Regardless of how many horribly cheesy SY-FY shark attack movies have been churned out year after year, piggybacking off the back of the ultimate shark movie…. 45 years later and counting.

Now, I can’t simply talk about JAWS without mentioning the John Williams score. It is one of the most recognizable tones in cinematic history that Goddess forbid, you ever hear that shit playing somewhere on the beach while your legs are dangling in the water, I’ll place a hefty bet you’re gonna crap your swim shorts. Per the Film Music Society, Williams described the malicious two-tone theme as “so simple, insistent and driving, that it seems unstoppable, like the attack of the shark. The music could be loud and fast if he was attacking, soft and slow if he was lurking, but always menacing in tone.”

Goddamn right Mr. Williams. I mean, every time I have an anxiety/panic attack, that fucking theme song pops into my anxious mind as the perfect accompaniment as an indication of a roller coaster of impending doom.

[JAWS theme] John Williams with the Boston Pops Orchestra

While I myself, and many other 80s’ babies’ grew up in the JAWS VHS era, we were terrified as kids but evolved into adults with a healthy understanding of the nature of the beast with education along with a healthy dose of lovely Shark Week programming provided by the Discovery Channel. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I didn’t still ’til this day go to the ocean, dip in, and the thought cross my mind, “Is today the day my leg gets bit off by Sir Great White of Shark?” All thanks to one of the most horrifying scenes of all time.

Thanks for the memories and the trauma Bruce.




Also, this is totally worth picking up! You can get your 4k Ultimate JAWS experience here through Amazon!

Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988’s “The Blob”

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Features: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

I don’t care how stubborn, or pompous this may sound: Computer generate all the damn monsters you want with the world’s greatest CGI program and programmer running it. It still won’t look better than practical effects and I certainly can’t appreciate it as much. The perfect example of such splendid monster-movie-magic is of course, Chuck Russell’s vision of the 1950’s Sci-Fi B movie, The Blob jello-molding it’s way into 1988.

 Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988's "The Blob"

Thinking back to my childhood years, I clearly remember my first interaction with this glorious film, that at the time, I had no idea was a remake. In a pre-internet era and films relying on physical media such as TV spots and the good old-fashioned newspaper to get the word out. The one other way to draw unsuspecting fans into a film post-theater release, was the almighty VHS box art that would stare at you from the lined-shelves of the horror section like a haunted painting. This film, like many others of that time, sold itself to a tiny Patti with the cover-art alone that both intrigued and terrified me as a child. The simple showcase of what I later learned to be Paul’s fate displayed on the front of the rental, initially scared the shit out of seven-year-old me. I’m not entirely sure why, as growing up in a horror-loving-household watching Halloween at the tender age of two, this piece of art gave me the skeevies. I can distinctly remember only a few VHS horror art covers having that sort of effect on me. For almost 2 years, that pink, gooey man screaming at me through the art cover taunted me every time the parental units and I made a family trip to our local Action Video for the weekend rentals. And it wasn’t until I was allowed to ride my bike across the busy street by my damn self I was cut loose to roam the horror shelves of that mom and pop video store and rent freely on my own. Whatever I wanted. So of course, I gravitated to that jerkoff blobby Paul who has been tormenting the hell out of me. I had to see what this was about just based on this one picture alone. And now, 30 years later, it has become one of my all-time favorites.

Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988's "The Blob"

 

Which brings me to the point here: That one image from the film doused in practical effects reeled me in and like many films before this gem in the ’80s, was balls-deep with beautifully done man-made monster magic. From Paul’s tragic demise to Vicki being eaten from the inside-out, The Blob is filled to the brim with dazzling and believable imagery that STILL looks better than a lot of modern day effects. The team responsible for igniting a fear of jello-molds everywhere was that of Tony Gardner, Chet Zar, and Bill Sturgeon of Alterian Studios. Who have since released some REALLY FUCKIN’ COOL behind the scenes stills on making that “extraterrestrial” man-eating glob that every fan of the film should take a gander at.

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LONG LIVE PRACTICAL EFFECTS.