The Last Shark


Anyone familiar with the genre cinema of Italy during the 70’s and 80’s know that the filmmakers of that time and place wouldn’t let pesky things like copyright laws slow their roll when there was a juicy ripoff buck to be made. After all, we are talking about a film industry that in 1980 put out an unofficial Alien sequel that took place mostly in a cave and ended in a bowling alley. No, really…
However, even this pales into insignificance compared to The Last Shark, a film so devoid of originality, Universal Studios blocked it’s release in the US due to the fact that it’s almost AN EXACT CARBON COPY AS JAWS.
Also known under a collection of alias’ such as Great White, Shark and the depressingly obvious Son Of Jaws (it’s like they WANTED to get sued), I could simply tell you all the plot by urging you to log off and watch Jaws instead but I guess that would mean I’m being as lazy as the scriptwriters…

I would also say “stop me if you’ve heard this one before” but if I did, I’d never get fucking started… but here goes anyway.
Nubile, lank haired Italians badly dubbed with American accents are being viciously attacked alternately by either stock footage or a goofy rubber mock up of a huge great white shark that terrorizes a seaside town during a busy time of year.
Straight off the bat author Peter Benton (read: Peter Benchley) susses out what the deal is and tries to warn everyone he can. “One things for sure, it’s not a floating chainsaw” he dazzles us with his astute claims and soon finds an ally in Ron Hammer, a local shark hunter played by Vic Morrow who is dressed like he raided Robert Shaw’s wardrobe and overacting like his booze money depends on it. When is isn’t cosplaying as Quint – I mean – playing a fisherman; he confuses the audience with his wildly inconsistent accent (which I managed to narrow down to either Scottish or Spanish) and is determined with Pete to bring this toothy marauder to justice. However the local Governor, who is predictably dodgier than a three dollar bill, calmly claims that an obviously half eaten arm must have been caused by an explosion and that he refuses to cancel the in the face of overwhelming evidence because of the blunt and baffling statements that A) he “never quits” and B) if he cancels the upcoming windsurfing tournament he may not be re-elected (lot of windsurfing voters in that neck of the woods, I guess).

However, after the dazed looking fish attacks what turns out to be the slowest windsurfing race in history the public turn up the pressure and Benton and Hammer get the green light to swim around and try to blow it up.
Anyone who thinks that the main things Jaws was missing was excruciating disco music and unconvincing gore can rest assured that they’ll be well served here as this is a veritable gold mine for bad movie enthusiasts. The shark changes size, shape and even species from one shot to the next and, in it’s rubber incarnation, has a permanently glazed look on it’s face like it’s been prescribed the wrong medication by it’s doctor. Long shots of the beast look like they were filmed with a bath toy using murky underwater footage that looks like it was shot through a cataract and the kills are shot with a hilarious ineptness that ends up being oddly charming (the scene where the shark snips the legs off a poor bastard dangling from a helicopter is so incredibly GIF worthy it’s untrue).
As an entry into the so bad it’s good pantheon of movies, The Last Shark acquits itself well but if I really wanted to watch hilariously shit version of Jaws, I have the third and fourth movie on my shelf ready to go.

Virtually worthless on it’s own merits, yet a prosperous gold mine when viewed drunk with rowdy friends (when viewed ironically it’s fucking amazing), The Last Shark, like many of it’s Italian ilk, is different things to different people but most will understandably wish the film would just get in the fucking sea.

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