Bruno Mattei’s trash masterpiece, Cruel Jaws, was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 29th 2020. Special features:
Two versions of the film: The Home Video Version and The Snyder Cut
The Great White Way – A Study in Sharksploitation with Rebekah McKendry
These Things Got Made! – Interview with Actor Jay Colligan
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English Mono with Optional English Closed Captions
Scroll down to watch the new trailer and Severin bundle promo video
Cruel Jaws is a 1995 Italian action horror feature film directed by Bruno Mattei [as William Snyder] (Hell of the Living Dead; Rats: Night of Terror; Zombies: The Beginning). It is also known as Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws; The Beast and its original title Fauci crudeli.
The movie stars David Luther, George Barnes, Jr., Scott Silveria, Kirsten Urso, Richard Dew, Sky Palma, Norma J. Neshei, Gregg Hood, Carter Collins, Natasha Etzler, Larry Zience and Jay Colligan.
It’s hard to know where to start with such a shameless and inane film. Cruel Jaws is far, far beyond your average rip-off. The story is essentially Jaws with smatterings of Jaws 2 and Jaws 3-D thrown in. Scenes from the Spielberg classic are recreated verbatim, and dialogue is directly lifted.
Explaining the plot of Cruel Jaws is almost pointless if you’ve seen Jaws. But the twists on the original tale are rather hysterical, such as the inclusion of Dag, essentially the film’s Quint. Dag Snerensen (Richard Dew) bears a striking resemblance to Hulk Hogan. His name “Dag” also mustered a lot of confusion as I thought characters were referring to him as “Dad”.
Anyway, Dag owns a shoddy version of Sea World (their attractions consist of two dolphins and a seal). He’s in trouble because he owes his bullying landlord, Samuel Lewis (George Barnes Jr.), “fifteen years rent”. This is a problem because Dag has a young daughter whose legs don’t work and who apparently has no reason to live other than swimming with dolphins.
But all this is completely irrelevant. While this pathetic little soap opera is playing out, a giant tiger shark is chowing down on the locals! (The tiger shark, by the way, is not actually a tiger shark. Practically all the stock footage used on the screen features great white sharks.) Luckily, Billy (Gregg Hood), the film’s lame reincarnation of Richard Dreyfuss’s Hooper, happens to be back in town ready to help Sheriff Francis (David Luther) in his hunt for the shark. For a marine biologist, Billy really hates sharks referring to them as “sort of locomotive with a mouth full of butcher’s knives”.
Sheriff Francis and Billy try to get the beach shut down, but, with an attitude strangely reminiscent of the another shark-plagued town’s mayor, Mayor Godfrey (Kevin Dean) and aforementioned rich bully Sam scoff at the shark claims. It’s tourist season! There’s a big windsurfing event coming up! How could they possibly close the beaches?! It’s all very familiar and only moments featuring Dag, the Hogan lookalike, remind us we’re not watching Jaws… for example, this touching scene where Dag puts his daughter to sleep with an impressive use of hypnotism…
It’s hard to pick the worst actor from the cast. They’re all so phenomenally bad. The villainous George Barnes Jr. stumbles through his lines with wide-eyed determination. Richard Dew may look like Hulk Hogan, but he’s a much worse actor, and Hulk Hogan is a terrible actor. Gregg Hood and David Luther are atrocious heroes. Hood as Billy is particularly awful coming across like a socially inept lunatic. There’s a surreal moment where Dag rambles at Billy for ages about whales while Hood fiddles with a radar looking ready to explode.
Not that the actors have much to work with. The script, which unbelievably took three people to write is a fabulous mess. The dialogue swings from ludicrous shark diatribes to incomprehensible insults. Subplots and characters are tossed around with little regard for logic. In a jaw-droppingly stupid party scene full of head-scratching lines (a girl says “I wanna dance!” while dancing), two (apparently) hot babes hook up with a couple of jocky antagonists. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that only a few scenes earlier they were chanting “dickbrain, dickbrain, dickbrain” in their dumbfounded faces.
Bruno Mattei doesn’t stop at merely lifting story elements from the original Jaws. Cruel Jaws has the audacity to steal footage from Jaws, its sequels and even Italian shark efforts like Enzo G. Castellari’s awesome Great White (1981) and Joe D’Amato’s Deep Blood (1990). He even “borrows” the theme song from Star Wars, remixing it slightly and playing it over a few scenes and the end credits! The hack didn’t even bother building his own fake shark, which in my books is a crime against shark films.
In shark attacks scenes, the film cuts madly between so many different rubber sharks that it’s almost seizure-inducing. Aforementioned footage from Great White and Deep Blood is awkwardly wedged into scenes with no regard for continuity. The stock footage of sharks is completely random, darting between different sizes and even different species. Mattei doesn’t even bother to throw any blood into the water for the few pathetic shark attack scenes he actually bothered to film.
I struggle to say Cruel Jaws is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen because I had such a ferociously good time with it. It’s the hardest I’ve laughed during a movie, comedy genre included, for some time. While it may be the laziest and shittiest work of his career, and it’s certainly the most shameless, Bruno Mattei (R.I.P.) made trash movie magic with Cruel Jaws. Stupid magic, but magic nonetheless.
Dave Jackson, MOVIES and MANIA, guest reviewer via Mondo Exploito
“The movie is cruel, but only to its audience. If the wretched dubbing doesn’t put one into severe shock, then the slapdash editing and incessant carnival music score will […] It might not make a lick of sense a lot of the time, but it’s the epitome of outrageous thievery cinema — best served with a chilled brew and approached with a heart open to hilarious B-movie madness.” AllMovie
“Thanks to the black magic of Mattei’s editing, every actor in here that doesn’t share a frame seems like they’re in a different movie – and that’s because some of them are. I can appreciate a good/bad film when the filmmakers show effort and care was put into the process; this, however, is nothing but pure laziness every grueling minute. The only thing “cruel” about this picture is watching it.” Dread Central
“We get some make-up effects and blood, along with stock footage of sharks but that’s about the extent of it. Don’t expect a bloodbath because you will be very disappointed. Overall, Cruel Jaws was a mess of a film that I just couldn’t get into. The Blu does look great but the movie itself is a tough one to finish. Skip it.” Horror Society
“Cruel Jaws is pretty overlong though, at nearly a hundred minutes, and it does drag in the second half. There’s also a confusing plot point about a wrecked ship that the shark’s connected to, that brought in right out of left field. So in closing, Jaws 5 is probably better than Jaws: The Revenge, and it’s worth a watch, especially for fans of Jaws, and Bruno Mattei.” Not This Time, Nayland Smith
” …awe-inspiring in its badness and shamelessness. It’s a one-stop-shop that rolls incoherence, absurdity, and disparate shark footage into a ball that perfectly summarizes Mattei’s career as Italy’s best hack auteur.” Oh, the Horror!
“What really makes Cruel Jaws interesting is that, while 90% of the film is lifted from other films, the 10% that isn’t is truly weird. For instance, the film’s hero is named Dag Snerson and he owns a water park that is apparently made up of exactly two dolphins and a sea lion. His daughter is probably the most cheerful wheelchair-bound child ever. There’s a subplot involving the Mafia.” Lisa Marie Bowman, Through the Shattered Lens
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