Saturday, September 25, 2010
The Best Jaws 3D Fan Site Ever
Shortly after the recent release of Piranha 3D, I considered doing a retrospective analysis of Jaws 3D, something along the lines of what I previously did for Jaws: The Revenge. Yet unlike Revenge, I have a soft spot for the third entry in the Jaws franchise because it was THE film that got me interested in 3D movies.
Before Jaws 3D, I had a ViewMaster toy and a few sets of reels, and I also knew about previous horror and sci-fi movies from the 50s that were shot in 3D—movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, House of Wax and It Came from Outer Space—courtesy of the Crestwood House books and their ilk. But Jaws 3D solidified in my mind just what the illusion of three dimensions meant in terms of movies (as well as comic books and later video games), thus starting my lifetime affair with 3D entertainment. Furthermore, Jaws 3D was the only one of the 3D movies from the early 80s that caught my eye, since it was the only film to offer the chance of seeing one of my favorite movie monsters jump out of the silver screen and into the audience. Sealing the deal was this super-awesome anaglyph Jaws 3D poster that I picked up at a Hallmark store during the film's original release, a poster that I still have in my collection (photo courtesy of the Jaws Collector site):
With such a personal background in mind, I was ready write a detailed examination of the sequel's technical aspects (namely, the 3D photography and mechanical shark effects) and what possibly drove particular creative decisions concerning Jaws 3D's narrative. Little did I know that not only did someone else already do this kind of in-depth analysis of Jaws 3D, but that same person is still doing it in ways that haven't been done before.
Meet Romain Néophyte, French Jaws 3D fan extraordinaire. His Jaws 3D blog site is the most detailed examination of this sequel I have ever seen anywhere; it's also the most devoted and insightful fan site I've seen that's devoted to a single movie. The articles, interviews, pictures and links he has would dwarf anything that I could offer in regards to an analysis of Jaws 3D, so I've instead decided to use this post to list some of his site's highlights. Please keep in mind that Romain’s site is in French, so if you are not fluent in that language you will need a software program to convert the text for you into English. (Google provides a translator and I’m sure that there are others out there, but avoid Babel Fish—it gave me nothing but headaches.) Read on ...
* Inside "The Mouth", 08/28/10: Pictures and a behind-the-scenes description is provided of the shark mouth (that's it--just a mouth with pointy teeth and no shark) built to shoot the scene where the shark eats Philip FitzRoyce (Simon MacCorkindale).
* Tomy Jaws 3D Graphic Game (Japan 1983), 07/31/10: Pictures and a description of the handheld, battery-powered 3D video game released in Japan under the title Jaws 3D. The same game was released in the U.S. under the name “Shark Attack”.
* Jaws 3D Billboard #1, 07/23/10: Pictures and description of a very ambitious Jaws 3D billboard put up in North Hollywood, California, a billboard that featured a 3,200 pound shark head.
* The Jaws 3D Tank, Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 (05-07/10): This four-part post provides pictures of and details about the huge water tank that was built to film the underwater scenes for Jaws 3D. This "shark tank" was 35 meters in diameter and 11 meters deep, with the capacity to hold 6,000 cubic meters of water.
* A Major Influence: Sea Dream (1978), 05/15/10: A look at Sea Dream, the 23 minute 3D film short that served as the inspiration for shooting the third Jaws movie in 3D.
* Interview of Joe Alves by Mike Smith, 05/14/10: As the title suggests, this post features a link to and a paragraph from Mike Smith's recent interview with Jaws 3D director Joe Alves. But the really interesting thing about this particular post is that it includes a quote from John Landis from a 2005 interview. As many Jaws 3D fans know, Universal was also considering doing a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon (also in 3D, just like the original) at the same time as it was considering Jaws 3D, and it opted to do the Jaws sequel instead. But what this quote reveals (and what I didn't know before reading this) is that Landis shot a 3D test reel in Steven Spielberg's pool to help promote the Creature remake idea. That's right: A 3D test reel was shot in Spielberg's own pool to promote a remake, but it was shot down in favor of a sequel to a Spielberg movie. I guess Hollywood really is a small world after all.
* The Third Dimension IS Terror, 12/23/09: A post about a 3D film festival at Cinematheque de Paris, which included a screening of Jaws 3D in its original 3D format.
These are just a few of the highlights on Romain’s site, and there are plenty more. He also has video clips, interviews, posts about deleted scenes and various VHS and DVD releases, and contributions directly from Jaws 3D alumnus John Putch (who played Sean Brody). So far, Universal and Alves have yet to show awareness of the site, but I hope they do soon—I’d love to see the exclusive behind-the-scenes information, pictures and video clips that they could contribute.
Speaking of Jaws 3D, I also found one of the early drafts of the Jaws 3D script floating around on the Internet. There are quite a few interesting differences between this draft and the finished film. In the script, the amusement park is Sea Kingdom, not Sea World. The shark’s attack of Kelly (Lea Thompson) is more elaborate and ultimately fatal while the scene with the two coral reef thieves isn’t in the script, thus lowering the body count from 5 to 4. Oddly, none of the tourists are trapped underwater; instead, Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid) goes down into the lagoon towards the end of the movie to set up a trap to capture the shark, not to repair the fractured observation tube. The ending in the script also includes an extended underwater chase scene with Mike in a mini-sub and later a boat wreckage, details that Universal apparently recycled for Jaws: The Revenge. In other words, even though Revenge tried to erase Jaws 3D from Jaws franchise continuity, it nevertheless lifted a scene from one of the early Jaws 3D scripts for its own plot.
In closing, I think that of all the films out there that qualify for a Star-Wars-original-trilogy-style special effects makeover, it's Jaws 3D—not a complete remake or a re-imagining of the sequel, just a technical update. Not only should the original 3D be converted to modern 3D standards, but Universal should also re-do several of the effects shots (particularly where miniatures were used) and perhaps re-shoot some of the attack scenes. For example, I found this short video clip on YouTube where a fan creatively edited together parts of the control room ending from Jaws 3D with shark effect shots from a similar scene in Deep Blue Sea. The end result is pretty impressive, so I think that there's plenty of potential left in this Jaws sequel--and for a fraction of the cost of a full remake, no less. (YouTube also has a preview of a feature-length fan edit of Jaws 3D which promises a higher body count, but I have no idea how to get a copy of this version if it actually exists.) Furthermore, according to information cited in the Wikipedia entry for this sequel, Jaws 3D was still earning quite a lot of money when it was pulled from theaters so there's some more money probably still waiting to be made with an enhanced edit of Jaws 3D. Are you listening, Universal?