6. Jaws (1975)
The ocean can be a dangerous place even without sharks. If conditions are bad enough, maybe you could be carried away by a rip current, swept out to sea, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer. However, we’re talking about frickin’ Jaws here, which helped solidify the great white shark’s reputation as an apex predator in the popular imagination. Steven Spielberg’s film still packs an impact to this day.
Before Jaws arrived to bloody the waters of Amity Island, the place seemed tranquil, if not positively idyllic. In fact, even after the initial shark attack, the lifeguards on duty don’t think too much of it. However, the body count starts rising, and there are a few more very public shark attacks as if the great beast is getting more audacious (and just getting started). Eventually, the island’s Police Chief, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), assembles a three-man team, including himself, oceanographer and shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw).
Most of us have seen Jaws, so we know what happens, so here’s some wordplay related to their grand fishing expedition: Despite his officialdom, Chief Brody ultimately finds himself over his head, at times almost floundering like a true fish out of water. Sure enough, despite all the expertise on board their vessel, Brody and crew practically end up with a sunken bonfire for a boat, looking like they’ll all be shark bait by morning. Interestingly enough, Jaws does have a significant element of police investigation to it. Chrissie’s (Susan Backlinie) death gets investigated by Brody, who uses Hoopers’ expertise to better understand what they’re up against. Of course, much about these efforts become irrelevant when the shark becomes more aggressive in its displays of power, attacking swimmers in a most public manner (in scenes that probably helped keep real swimmers out of the water).
Basically, mere lifeguards would never be enough to handle a shark such as this. They would all die in a bloody mass execution. In fact, even with police training and shark knowledge, Brody and Hooper barely escape the shark with their lives, let alone how lesser adventurers might fare out there! After all this, one wonders if a town could truly come to grips with what has happened unless the truth gets buried.
Then again, as we have seen recently, some people are bizarrely quick to overlook dangers and public safety just to have a good time. Would hyper-aggressive, giant sharks really hold people back that much? As if this is not messed up enough, the most bizarre plot point of all involves how hellbent the shark seems on sinking the Orca and devouring its courageous crew. This shark is almost like the Jack Torrance of the sea (if only it could wield an ax in its fins!).