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BITING INTO THE BLASPHEMY OF 'JAWS THE REVENGE'

Title: JAWS THE REVENGE Year: 1987 Rating: *

If you don't count CADDYSHACK II, the fourth JAWS, tag-titled JAWS: THE REVENGE, takes the cake, or in this case, the chum, winning all awards for the worst sequel ever, ever, ever made...

While Part 3, released at the time as 3D, is a bad movie, at least it's got campy cult value. Here, after Roy Scheider's Martin Brody has (already) died of an expository off-screen heart-attack, we center on his grown-up sons at a luxurious Oceanic Theme Park (that included Dennis Quaid). And now it's mom, the faithful and earthy Ellen's, turn at the lead, played again by Lorraine Gary from the original and the flawed but downright entertaining second outing (more or less a Martin Brody Investigation episode). She takes a vacation with her oldest son, Mike, a Marine Biologist (like Quaid in the third), tanning in the beautiful Bahamas...

Edna "Let Polly do the printing" Billotto makes a cameo

This is after, on the once-central Island of Amity, the new young Sheriff, Sean Brody, Martin's youngest, is the rudimentary victim of what usually occurs in the pre-credit prologue: beginning with the legendary skinny dipping girl; a few annoying deep sea divers taking pictures of Robert Shaw's boat, The Orca; a fish beheaded; and now what seems to be a dorsal fin's gliding perspective of the water... Very boring...

Though setting the stage for a potentially decent, exploitively bloody scene completely ruined by choppy editing, as if pieced together by a blind monkey – JAWS are frantically chomping but you can't see a damn thing... And yet, later on, an underwater "chase" sequence pitting shark against Mike, weaving in and out of a sunken ship, isn't too shabby... That's about it, of the good things... Or actually, thing...

A hard-up Michael Caine washes up in JAWS: THE REVENGE

After the funeral, when Ellen gets tropical, she's joined with the usually fantastic Michael Caine in a paycheck-collecting turn as Hoagie, a dime novel throwback, rogue piloting maverick, later turned into a dashing form of Shaw's experienced Captain Quint, in sleep mode. Incredibly misplaced scenes have the zero chemistry odd couple talking about retirement, or laughing it up in a gambling casino and, with the exception of one shark sighting, at this point, almost halfway in, you'd never think this was a JAWS film, or anything having to do with a killer fish...

By 1987, the lacquer of cult movie film stock wasn't timeless or antique: everything about part 4, in repose, looks so new and shiny and utterly, hopelessly dull and uninteresting. Though it tries to connect with the basic template: in Richard Dreyfuss mode is scientist son Mike while the comedic, easygoing side goes to not only the worst character in the film but perhaps the most annoying of all time – that's if Mario Van Peebles role as a smack talkin' punk with a red Michael Jackson 'Beat It' jacket and a heavy metal guitar strapped around his neck, from Clint Eastwood's HEARTBREAK RIDGE, isn't considered.

The Shark in JAWS: THE REVENGE

The characters are disconnected from each other and the horror/suspense element isn't anywhere to be found – not the music, the acting, or direction. They do show-off the shark since it's more realistic than the famous "Bruce" from the classic, which Spielberg used only sporadic shots of – combined with actual footage – but hired-hand director Joseph Sargent hasn't a clue where to place the camera to give a palpable feeling of doom in the water, or dread on land.

Sad because Lorraine Gary, though resembling a giraffe on a swizzle stick, is a very capable actress, and her devotion and strength, in the first two ventures, is headstrong, dynamic and, without trying to compete with her man, she's an equal partner. Gary, Caine and the entire franchise, even if it did get worse, deserved something not only better but... just something, anything but this.

Lorraine Gary in JAWS: THE REVENGE

During the finale, as the torpedoing shark heads toward the brave Brody heroine... do or die for the fish or the human... the shark ROARS... loudly... like a lion... the only campy howler-moment that's worth searching for (You Tube probably has it)...

And in closing, a contrived heart-tugging attempted homage to the original where, like when the depressed Sheriff Brody and his youngest son exchange monster faces while John Williams' ghostly piano keys sound like a lonesome, underwater dream, is redone horribly as Mike, played by THE LAST STARFIGHTER Lance Guest with a brainy beard, and his daughter... the token child who'll obviously wind up in peril, somehow... are exchanging similar expressions back and forth at the dinner table, again witnessed by mom, now grandma. This, along with a throwaway cameo by Mrs. Kitner, is pure blasphemy in this dull, catastrophic wreck that makes JAWS 3D seem like APOCALYPSE NOW.

Mario Van Peebles in JAWS: THE REVENGE
Judith Barsi, murdered the following year, survies in JAWS: THE REVENGE
Last Starfighter actor Lance Guest in JAWS: THE REVENGE
Lee Fierro returns as Mrs. Kinter for JAWS: THE REVENGE
Lee Fierro returns as Mrs. Kinter for JAWS: THE REVENGE

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