Introducing the PopWatch Rewind! Week 1: 'Jaws 3-D'

jaws-3d-posterImage Credit: Everett CollectionWelcome to the first installment of PopWatch Rewind, where we take a leisurely stroll through the great big Hollywood Video of the past. Each week, we’ll pick a different movie from years ago pegged to something recent. It won’t always be a classic film, or even a decent one, but it’ll always be interesting. We hope.

It’s just like a book club, except instead of Anne Rice and The Help, it’ll be Steven Seagal and Short Circuit. We’ll let you know what movie we’re planning on discussing a week ahead of time, to give you ample opportunity to watch it yourselves, then we’ll meet back here every Friday to talk about it. Of course, we’d prefer it if you saw it on VHS, but LaserDisc or Betamax is also fine.

Okay, let’s hit play, shall we?

In honor of the release of Piranha 3D, this week’s pick is that grand-daddy of screen-popping, big fish tales: Jaws 3-D. Starring Dennis Quaid before he knew better and Lou Gossett Jr. when he didn’t really care, this big bucket of chum isn’t the worst Jaws sequel, or the last, but it’s close. And if you fondly or not-so-fondly remember this movie, please by all means jump on into the comments section, the water’s fine.

Keith Staskiewicz: First off, I have a huge phobia of sharks. As a kid I didn’t live near the ocean, but I would still have these nightmares about people transporting a shark to an aquarium via helicopter. As they flew over my house, the buckle would break on the harness, and the shark would come flying through the air, living just long enough so that its mouth could continue moving as it shot through my bedroom ceiling. I had issues. But for some reason, the Jaws movies never really scared me that much. I think it’s because the sharks always looked so fake.

Darren Franich: I remember, when I was younger, being scared of Jaws, but weirdly, I remember being more scared of Jaws 3-D. I think it’s because in Jaws 3-D, the shark literally just pops up anywhere there’s water. There aren’t any rules. The bumper boats that the shark attacks in the movie look like they’re in about one foot of water! It really seems like, if you pour too much water into a bathtub, a shark will suddenly appear. I was really scared of pools and bathtubs for a long time after seeing Jaws 3-D. For some reason, this movie really got to me as a kid. Watching it now, it seems like a parody of itself.

KS: Which it actually almost ended up being. At one point producer Richard Zanuck and Universal wanted to make the third Jaws a spoof movie, like Airplane! Which is kind of funny considering that Airplane! starts with a Jaws joke. There was even a script written, by John Hughes of all people. It was going to be called Jaws 3, People 0, and would have been directed by Joe Dante, who did the original Piranha. jaws-3dImage Credit: Everett Collection

DF: Luckily Jaws 3-D is funny enough on its own. The whole thing takes place at SeaWorld, where a Mama shark is seeking vengeance for its baby. It actually starts off well enough. I’m going to come out and say that the first attack in the movie is pretty freaky. The sound effect they used is kind of terrifying, and they only show quick glimpses of the shark’s teeth and nothing else. So I was thinking that maybe they did learn that “less is more” thing from the first one. But then 20 minutes later they’re underwater in a sunken ship and suddenly a big fake rubber shark is knocking repeatedly into the walls.

KS: And with all the speed and grace of a four-year-old in a bathtub jamming a plastic shark into a plastic ship. Also, they have the shark swimming backwards, which it biologically can’t do, and it roars. It roars! Not as dramatic a roar as in Jaws: The Revenge, mind you, but still it’s still a shark roaring underwater. For me, Lou Gossett Jr. is easily the best part of the movie. He won his Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman right before this came out, which is interesting because Michael Caine won one of his while filming the fourth Jaws. Gossett Jr.’s character has this great line where he says incredulously, “You talkin’ about some damn shark’s mother?” and you almost feel like he’s speaking for the audience.

DF: Let’s talk about the 3-D.

KS: Well, the real era of 3-D was originally the ’50s with Dial M for Murder and House of Wax and William Castle, but there was this resurgence in the early ’80s, essentially pegged to bad horror sequels. I almost feel like the trend came back solely because someone woke up in the middle of the night and had the realization, “Wait a minute. If it’s the third sequel, you can just add a ‘D!'” And thus, Friday the 13th, Part 3, 3-D. Amityville 3-D. Jaws 3-D.

DF: Unfortunately, you can’t really watch Jaws 3-D in 3-D anymore because the technology they used doesn’t translate well to home viewing. But it’s almost, in a funny way, more enjoyable in 2-D. If it were 3-D, I feel like I’d be annoyed, but instead it’s, “Why are you lingering on this floating fish head for 30 seconds straight?” For a brief moment it becomes very abstract and almost pleasantly surreal.

KS: My favorite use of the 3-D in the movie is when the shark gets killed, and it explodes into a visual pun. You see some viscera, but then two sets of bloody shark gums and teeth smack into the screen and hang there. And after a second you’re like, “Oh, right, Jaws.”

Next Week: So here’s your homework. Since Takers starring Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen as bank robbers will be out, we’ll return to the impossibly badass awesomeness that is Point Break. Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, surfing, barely disguised homoeroticism, and ex-presidents with guns: You know you want it.

Comments (25 total) Add your comment
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  • retirednotdead

    I was just reading Steven Spielberg, on Wiki last night. My daughter was 7 mos. old when this movie came out.We went to the drive-in and she slept peacefully in the backseat until we screamed!

    • retirednotdead

      I didn’t read the article very well! I meant the original! HaHa! I never saw the others!

  • Mike

    Paleeeeeze. Jaw 3D was so lame. I remember I had a teacher who said they were visiting sea world and she was somewhere in the back ground as an extra. I always look for her, I’ve never seen her.

    Anyhow, will never understand why they did these really awful sequels. Superman 3 was around this time too and almost as lame as this one. Oh but the memories. . .

  • Bella Jacob

    I like Jaws 3D but mainly because I have a pen pal who had bit part in the movie.

  • k

    my favorite part is when Lou Gosset Jr. goes undercover in a surfer gang and robs a bank and rescues… oh wait. wrong movie.

  • ncmacasl

    I saw this in the theater. It was corny but fun. I may try to suffer thru it again on Netflix. I remember the frog jumping in an early scene and it scared everyone in the audience!!!!

  • kim in kentucky

    didn’t see it in the theatre — BUT saw the trailer — it was upside down AND they ran it backwards — that I will always remember!

  • Nancy

    So, I secretly love this movie (but to be fair I was like 7 when I first saw it).

    But, I never realized it was 3D since I only saw it every time HBO/Cinemax reran them (I blame them for lots of horrible movies I love); somethings just really confused me. It finally made sense a couple years ago.

  • jodipo

    oddy enough, I watched this just the other day. Talk about bad movie. I loved the first two Jaws, but every single one after than has been dreadful

  • RBlues

    I am not ashamed to admit that this is a movie I always watch when I run across it channel surfing. We had just come home from a vacation to Sea World when it came out so it has a lovely nostalgic feel to it for me personally.

    • the other Anne

      I watch it when it is on as well. I saw it in the theater (granted, I was probably a preteen) and loved it, but loved it because it was sooo bad. Except for Lou Gossett Jr. He had some great lines. And loved how Quaid’s lady sidekick kept slapping the water looking for the dolhins at the end. For the big dorks in the group, wasnt there a dolphin named CoCo?? Sigh, I need to work.

  • darrin

    always goofy of course but fun. the first two were good. this was a parody i agree. the 4th was just dreadful.

  • maria

    This is too much fun! I love reading everyone’s take on this movie! Can’t wait to talk about next week movie…great idea!!

  • maria

    oh and lets not forget about the two dolphins in the movie…I mean really??

  • Sebastian

    I like this idea of visiting movies of the past. I have to say I enjoyed seeing Jaws 3D. Especially three scenes; the shark coming at you at the end, the girls doing their dance behind the boats (hehehe) and the two dolphins spinning in the air. This was Lou Gouseet’s next movie after winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in An Officier and a Gentleman. It’s never mentioned in his bio….Jaw 3 (in 2D) is just barely watchable.

  • alan of montreal

    there wasn’t enough carnage in this version, that’s for sure. Remember the girl who gets attacked, with the shark biting her leg, but somehow they manage to pull her from the water and her leg is still well attached, with just a few teeth marks to show that she’d been bitten? I mean, really, talk about a cop-out!

    • Wilson

      My brother remcdmenoed I might like this blog. He was totally right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  • Dani C

    God i love/hate this movie. Agree with some of you above, if i come across it on TV, i’m automatically enthralled for at least 20 mins….best part though-the guy that survives for what, an hour inside Jaws mouth…just enough time for our hero’s to get close enough to pull the grenade he has also managed to hold onto!

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