Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Fantastic Four(th): A Review of Lou & Yana's JawsFest 4 DVD




They said they wouldn't do it ... but the fans demanded otherwise. Thus, with great pleasure I had the privilege of recently receiving a screener copy of Lou & Yana's JawsFest 4: Revenge of the Finatics DVD. This DVD marks fourth and final installment in Lou and Dianna "Yana" Pisano's series of fan-made videos that are devoted to Jaws, the franchise that it spawned, and the locations at Martha's Vineyard and elsewhere that made the franchise possible.

Of course, the Pisanos' previous trilogy of JawsFest DVDs are extremely comprehensive about Jaws and its connections to Martha's Vineyard, so what could possibly be left to cover? PLENTY. Read on for my complete review of Lou & Yana's JawsFest 4, a DVD with plenty of interviews, location tours, sing-a-longs, and shark jumpings.

For those of you who are familiar with the previous three Lou & Yana's JawsFest DVDs know, their productions are mostly tied to the JawsFest events that were held in Martha's Vineyard. The first DVD features footage from the first JawsFest in 2005, while the third DVD features footage from another Jaws event (a pseudo-JawsFest) in 2011. JawsFest 4 covers JawsFest: The Tribute, the third (and possibly last) Jaws-centric Martha's Vineyard event that was held in 2012. I wasn't able to attend any of these events, so I'm very thankful that the Pisanos made the effort to capture footage from each of them and make it available to other Jaws fans who couldn't be there in person and who may never visit Martha's Vineyard at all.

JawsFest 4 does a commendable job in providing the highlights of JawsFest: The Tribute. It features cameos from many franchise alumni, including Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie, Lee Fierro, Joe Alves, Carl Gottlieb and Tom Dunlop. Even special effects wizard Greg Nicotero makes an appearance due to his astonishing contributions to the event that included life-sized replicas of Jaws actors Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. There were Jaws screenings, autograph tables and panel discussions--including a panel called "The Women of Jaws" that was hosted by none other than Yana Pisano herself!


Yana Pisano (far right) and "The Women of Jaws".


In previous JawsFest DVDs, the Pisanos visit many sites on the island that were featured in Jaws, Jaws 2 and Jaws: Revenge; in JawsFest 4, the Pisanos up the ante through their active involvement in several JawsFest events. The DVD shows them acting as tour guides, both on the water and in a bus, alongside fellow "Finatic" Jim Beller. Not only has Beller appeared in the previous JawsFest DVDs and worked with Matt Taylor in assembling photos for the book Jaws: Memories From Martha's Vineyard, he also had items from his vast collection of franchise memorabilia put on display in Jaws- and shark-related museum exhibits in both the U.S. and abroad. For JawsFest 4, Beller contributed some video footage from a July 2012 exhibition called SHARK, which was curated by famed marine conservationist, author, and painter Richard Ellis at the Nova Southeastern University’s Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Why the Chamber of Commerce of Martha's Vineyard doesn't have the Pisanos and Beller on retainer is still a mystery to me.

JawsFest: The Tribute is only part of JawsFest 4; it also includes footage from the Jaws ride at the Universal Studios theme park in Florida, a ride that closed in January 2012. The DVD features plenty of Jaws 2 stuff, including footage of Florida locations seen in the sequel and a Jaws 2 cast reunion that was held in Los Angeles in March 2012. These tidbits neatly dovetail with Lou Pisano's other recent Jaws 2 efforts: Not only was his three-part retrospective, "The Guts of Jaws 2: Appreciating An Underappreciated Sequel", published in SCREAM magazine (you can read the entire article here), but he is also at work with Michael Smith on an upcoming book about the sequel. (Smith also helped with the production of JawsFest 4.)


The Pisanos, adrift in a sea of Finatics on Martha's Vineyard.


Yet with all of the interesting Jaws stuff that it offers, JawsFest 4 wouldn't be entertaining if it weren't for the Pisanos and their merry band of Finatics. Since the release of their first JawsFest video, Lou and Yana have been making a name for themselves within the fan community and building a fan base of their own. By the time JawsFest 4 rolled into production, plenty of Finatics were willing to contribute whatever they could to bring the JawsFest series to a delightful close. If you've seen the previous DVDs, you'll see plenty of familiar faces on the screen; even "Sir" Edward McCormack and Mike "Quint" Hadji, two Finatics from England, contributed some amusing video clips from their corner of the globe as part of the series' finale. Furthermore, the Pisanos have a wonderful chemistry as a couple and that chemistry, along with their infectious enthusiasm, carries over into each of the fan projects they do. In short, if they're having fun you'll be having fun too, and JawsFest 4 is a big bundle of fin-tastic fun.

Click here to learn more about how to get a copy of JawsFest 4 and other related DVDs. While the JawsFest DVD series is officially over, the Pisanos have plenty more "Fests" in store for fans like you and me. In addition to the aforementioned Jaws 2 book project, they also have produced the HalloweenFest DVDs, a short movie trilogy that's a tribute to John Carpenter's classic slasher films, and Lou & Yana's TalkFest, an ongoing online radio show that airs weekly on the Blog Talk Radio site. TalkFest recently recorded its 100th episode and the Pisanos also produced the Lou & Yana's TalkFest: The Movie DVD, a video that was recorded during JawsFest: The Tribute and is a companion piece of sorts to JawsFest 4.


JawsFest 4: Revenge of the Finatics--I've got mine!





No comments:

Post a Comment