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Jaws: The Revenge

Film poster
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Produced by Joseph Sargent
Written by Michael De Guzman
Starring Lorraine Gary
Lance Guest
Mario Van Peebles
Michael Caine
Karen Young
Judith Barsi
Music by Michael Small
John Williams
Cinematography John McPherson
Editing by Michael Brown
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) July 17, 1987
Running time 89 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Gross revenue Domestic: $20,763,013
Worldwide: $51,881,013
Preceded by Jaws 3-D

Jaws: The Revenge is a 1987 horrorthriller film directed by Joseph Sargent. It is the third and final sequel to Steven Spielberg's Jaws.

The film focuses on Ellen Brody's (Lorraine Gary) convictions that the shark is stalking her family, especially when a great white shark follows her to the Bahamas. Jaws: The Revenge was shot on location in New England and in the Caribbean, and completed on the Universal lot. Like the first two films of the series, Martha's Vineyard was the location of the fictional Amity Island for the opening scenes of the film.

The film received a poor critical reception, and earned the lowest amount of money from the franchise. It is considered by film critics to be one of the worst movies ever made.



The story returns to the Brody family in Amity Island. Martin Brody had died of a heart attack, although his widow, Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary), claims that "it was the fear of the shark that killed him." Now working as a police deputy, her youngest son Sean (Mitchell Anderson) is dispatched to clear a log from a buoy. As he does so, he is brutally attacked and killed by a shark.

Ellen is convinced that the shark had deliberately targeted Sean, and visits her eldest son, Michael (Lance Guest), in the Bahamas where now works as a marine biologist. Fearing he will be attacked next by the shark, Ellen hopes to convince him to take up a new job on dry land. She meets Hoagie (Michael Caine), and they begin dating. The shark attacks a banana boat, Ellen's granddaughter Thea (Judith Barsi) on it; Thea is unharmed, but her friend's mother is killed (Diane Hetfield). Ellen becomes convinced that the shark has tracked her family to the Bahamas. She takes a boat out to sea on her own, intent on confronting and killing the shark to break the curse, or sacrificing herself hoping the shark will leave her family alone.

The shark leaps out of the water to attack Jake (Mario Van Peebles)

Hoagie flies Michael and his friend Jake (Mario Van Peebles) out to sea so that they can find Ellen quickly. Hoagie lands the plane on the sea, but the shark sinks it. Looking out for the shark while using a device that emits electromagnetic impulses to drive the shark mad, Jake moves to the end of the prow. The shark unexpectedly leaps from the surface of the water to grab Jake, biting into him and dragging him beneath the surface. The device causes the shark to repeatedly leap out of the water and Ellen steers the boat directly for the shark, impaling it on the broken bowsprit, which puts pressure on the device and causes it to explode. After killing the shark, they find Jake mauled but alive. The film ends as Hoagie flies Ellen back to Amity Island.

Series continuity

No reference is made to the character development or events depicted in Jaws 3-D. In its predecessor, Michael is an engineer for SeaWorld, whereas here he is a marine research scientist.[1] Sean is not associated with the police force in Jaws 3-D, and there is no mention of their respective partners. Even one of the Universal Studios press releases for Jaws: The Revenge omits Jaws 3-D by referring to Jaws: The Revenge as the "third film of the remarkable Jaws trilogy."[2]


Joseph Sargent produced and directed the film. He had worked with Lorraine Gary in 1969's The Marcus-Nelson Murders, for which he won his first Directors Guild of America Award.[3] Indeed, Steven Spielberg cites this television movie, that later spawned Kojak, as motivation for casting Gary as Ellen Brody in the original Jaws film.[4]

Jaws: The Revenge was filmed on location in New England and in the Caribbean, and completed on the Universal lot. Like the first two films of the series, Martha's Vineyard was the location of the fictional Amity Island for the opening scenes of the film. Production commenced on February 2, 1987, by which time "snowstorms had blanketed" the island for almost a month, "providing a frosty backdrop for the opening scenes."[5]

In addition to the 124 cast and crew members, 250 local extras were also hired. The majority of the extras were used as members of the local high school band, chorus and dramatic society that can be seen as the Brody's walk through the town, and during Sean's attack. A local gravestone maker produced 51 slabs for the mock graveyard used for Sean's funeral.[5]

The cast and crew moved to Nassau in The Bahamas on February 9, beginning principal photography there the next day. Like the production of the first two films, they encountered many problems with varying weather conditions. The location did not offer the "perfect world" that the 38-day shoot required. Cover shots were filmed on shore and in interior sets.[5] The film was shot in the Super 35 format.[6]

Special effects

The special effects team, headed by Henry Millar, had arrived at South Beach, Nassau on January 12, 1987, almost a month before principal photography commenced there. In the official press release, Millar says that when he got involved "we didn't even have a script... but as the story developed and they started telling us all what they wanted... I knew this wasn't going to be like any other shark anyone had ever seen."[5]

The shark was to be launched from atop an 88-foot (27 m) long platform, made from the trussed turret of a 30-foot (9.1 m) crane, and floated out into Clifton Bay. Seven sharks, or segments, were produced.

Two models were fully articulated, two were made for jumping, one for ramming, one was a half shark (the top half) and one was just a fin. The two fully articulated models each had 22 sectioned ribs and moveable jaws covered by a flexible water-based latex skin, measured 25 feet (7.6 m) in length and weighed 2500 pounds. Each tooth was half-a-foot long and as sharp as it looked. All models were housed under cover... in a secret location on the island.[5]

The film company returned to Universal Studios to finish shooting on April 2. Principal photography was completed in Los Angeles on May 26. Millar's special effects team, however, remained in Nassau, completing second unit photography on June 4.

Underwater sequences

Cinematographer John McPherson also supervised the underwater unit, which was headed by Pete Romano. Whereas underwater photography was normally filmed with an anamorphic lens, requiring overhead lighting, Romano filmed these "sequences with Zeiss, a 35 mm super-speed lens, which allows the natural ambiance to come through on film."[5] Additional underwater photography was completed in a water tank, measuring 50 feet (15 m) by 100 feet (30 m) across, and 17 feet (5.2 m) in depth, in Universal Studio's Stage 27. Also, a replica of Nassau's Clifton Bay and its skyline was created on the man-made Falls Lake on the studio backlot.[5]

A television documentary, "Behind the Scenes with Jaws: The Revenge", was broadcast in the USA on July 10, 1987. Twenty-two minutes in length, it was written and directed by William Rus for Zaloom Mayfield Productions.[7]

Refilming the ending

In the ending that was originally filmed, Ellen rammed the shark with Michael's boat, mortally wounding it. The shark then caused the boat to break apart with its death contortions, forcing the people on the boat to jump off to avoid going down with it.[1] Test audiences disapproved of this ending. It was remade for the shark to get stabbed with the bow sprit and explode for no apparent reason. Also, this ending had them find Jake wounded but alive. According to Orange Coast, the magazine of Orange County, reshooting the ending prevented Michael Caine from collecting his Academy Award for Hannah and Her Sisters.[8] One version can be seen on cable broadcasts, while the other version is featured on the home releases.[8]

The ending had left many people confused. In his scathing review, Roger Ebert says that he cannot believe "that the director, Joseph Sargent, would film this final climactic scene so incompetently that there is not even an establishing shot, so we have to figure out what happened on the basis of empirical evidence."[9]


Lorraine Gary reprised her role as Ellen Brody, a role she had portrayed in the first two films. In the press release, Gary says Jaws: The Revenge' is "also about relationships which... makes it much more like the first Jaws." This was Gary's first film since appearing in Spielberg's 1941. The press release proposes that the character "had much more depth and texture than either of the other films was able to explore. The promise of further developing this multi-dimensional woman under the extraordinary circumstances... intrigued Gary enough to lure her back to the screen after a lengthy hiatus."[10] Although the film was always going to be centered on Gary, Roy Scheider was offered a cameo. If he had accepted it, it was his Martin Brody character, rather than Sean Brody, who would have been killed by the shark at the beginning of the film.[1]

Gary is the only member of the main cast who returned from the original film, although Lee Fierro made a brief cameo as Mrs. Kintner (the mother of the young boy who was killed in the original Jaws film), as did Fritzi Jane Courtney who played Mrs. Taft, one of the Amity town council members in both Jaws and Jaws 2. Cyprian R. Dube who played Amity Selectman Mr. Posner in both Jaws and Jaws 2 is upgraded to mayor following the death of Murray Hamilton, who played Larry Vaughn. Gary states that one of the reasons she was attracted to the film was the idea of an on-screen romance with Academy Award winner Michael Caine (who previously starred in another Peter Benchley-adapted flop The Island), who portrayed pilot Hoagie Newcombe.

The first day we were to work together I was nervous as a school girl. We were shooting a Junkanoo Festival with noisy drums and hundreds of extras. But he never faltered in his concentration and he put me completely at ease. It was all so natural. He's an extraordinary actor -- and just a nice human being.[10]

Caine had mixed feelings about working on the film, both on the production and the final version. He thinks that it was a first for him to be involved with someone his own age in a film. He compares the relationship between two middle-aged people to the romance between two teenagers. Although disappointed not to be able to collect an Academy Award because of filming in the Bahamas, he was glad to be involved in the film. In the press release, he explains that "it is part of movie history... the original was one of the great all-time thrillers. I thought it might be nice to be mixed up with that. I liked the script very much."[11] However, Caine later claimed: "I have never seen it [the film], but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific!"[12] In his 1992 autobiography What's it All About?, he says that the film "will go down in my memory as the time when I won an Oscar, paid for a house and had a great holiday. Not bad for a flop movie."[13]

Lance Guest played Ellen's eldest son Michael. Guest had dropped out of his sophomore year at UCLA to appear in another sequel to a horror classic; Halloween II (which was also distributed by Universal).[14] Karen Young played his wife Carla. She commended the director's emphasis upon characterization.[2] Thea, Michael and Carla's daughter, was played by Judith Barsi. She was murdered by her father a year after the film was released.[15]

Mario Van Peebles played Jake, Michael's colleague. His father, Melvin Van Peebles, has a cameo in the film as the mayor of Nassau.[16] Mitchell Anderson appeared as Ellen's youngest son, Sean. Lynn Whitfield played Louisa, and stunt performer Diane Hetfield was the victim of the banana boat attack.


Jaws: The Revenge
Soundtrack by Michael Small
Released 2000
Recorded 1987
Genre Orchestral
Length 27:20
Professional reviews

The score was composed and conducted by Michael Small, who had previously provided music for Klute, Marathon Man (which featured Jaws star Roy Scheider) and The Parallax View.[17] John Williams' famous shark motif is integrated into the score, although Small removed the Orca theme. says that "Small's score is generally tense, and he comes up with a few new themes of his own."[18]

The film also contained the songs "Nail it to the Wall", performed by Stacy Lattislaw, and the 1986 hit "You Got It All", performed by The Jets.[19] Unlike the preceding entries in the series, the soundtrack was not released at the same time as the film, although Small appears to have mixed tracks for a release. However, it was given a promotional release in 2000.

Reviews for the soundtrack album were more favorable than for the film. Indeed, writing for filmscoremonthly, AK Benjamin says that "on a CD, Small's material fares better since it's not accompanied by the film." Dismissing the film as "engagingly unwatchable", he says that "Small certainly gave Revenge a lot more than it deserved -- and this a much better score than Deep Blue Sea... whatever that means."[20] Benjamin portrays Small as 'knowing' and his work as being superior to the film.

The hysterical coda tacked onto the end of "Revenge and Finale" is almost worth the price of the disc, as it no doubt sums up Small's opinion of the film. It's sad that the great Michael Small was delegated utter crap like Jaws the Revenge in the late '80s -- and even worse that he never found his way back to the material that he deserves.[20]

Upon Small's death in 2003, The Independent wrote that the "composer of some distinction ... had the indignity of working on one of the worst films of all time". Like most reviews of the soundtrack, the article criticizes the film whilst saying "Small produced a fine score in the circumstances, as if anyone noticed."[21]

Track listing

  1. "Main Title"
  2. "Underwater"
  3. "The Bahamas"
  4. "Premonition"
  5. "Moray Eel"
  6. "Alive Or Dead"
  7. "The Shark"
  8. "Revenge & Finale"

DVD release

Jaws The Revenge was the first film of the series to be released on DVD. It was released on Region 1 as a 'vanilla' disc by Goodtimes, featuring Spanish and French subtitles. Although the keep case packaging claimed that the aspect ratio was 1.85:1, the feature is presented in 2.35:1. The soundtrack was presented in Dolby Digital 4.1, with one reviewer saying that the "stereo separation is great with ocean waves swirling around you, the bubbles going by during the scuba scenes, and Hoagey's airplane flying around behind you." The same reviewer praised the image transfer of Mcpherson's "extremely well photographed" cinematography.[22]


Jaws: The Revenge  
Author Hank Searls
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Novelization
Publisher Berkley Books
Publication date July 1, 1987
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 195
ISBN 0425105466
OCLC Number 79936995

The novelization was written by Hank Searls, who also adapted Jaws 2.[23] It contains some subplots that were not included in the final film. The novel contains a subplot in which Hoagie is a government agent and he transports laundered money. The only reference to this in the film is when Michael Brody asks "What do you do when you’re not flying people?" to which Hoagie replies, "I deliver laundry."

The novelisation suggests that the shark may be acting under the influence of a vengeful voodoo witch doctor (who has a feud with the Brody family), and the shark's apparent revenge has magical implications, therefore the witch doctor is the 'revenge' and the shark is his tool. This also explains the strange psychic connection Ellen and the shark have with each other. The plot was deleted as it strayed too far away from the plot of the killer shark. However, at one point in the theatrical version, Michael Brody says: "Come on, sharks don’t commit murder. Tell me you don’t believe in that voodoo."


Even though it received negative reviews, the film was able to cover costs (estimated US$23 million) with a worldwide box office take of $51,881,013.[24] The film, though, continued the series diminishing returns. It only grossed $7,154,890 in its opening weekend, when it opened to 1,606 screens.[25] This was around $5 million less than its predecessor.[26] It has also achieved the lowest total lifetime gross of the series.[27][28]

The film had a poor critical reception, scoring a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.[29] and was nominated for Worst Picture in the 1987 Golden Raspberry Awards. It is often considered one of the worst movies ever made.[21] It was rated by Entertainment Weekly as one of the "The 25 Worst Sequels Ever Made".[30] Roger Ebert said that it "is not simply a bad movie, but also a stupid and incompetent one." He lists several elements that he finds unbelievable, including that Ellen is "haunted by flashbacks to events where she was not present." Many of the errors in the film he identifies are listed on the Internet Movie Database. Ebert also laments that Michael Caine could not attend the ceremony to collect his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor earned for Hannah and Her Sisters because of his shooting commitments on this film. The critic guesses that he may not have wanted to return to the shoot if he had left it.[9]

A frame from the sequence where the shark is destroyed, showing the rather primitive model. Henry Millar was awarded for "Worst Special Visual Effects".

The film contains many scenes that are considered implausible, such as the shark swimming from a New York island to the Bahamas (approx. 2000 km), in less than three days, and following Michael through an underwater labyrinth, as well as the fact that it was seeking revenge. The Independent says that "the film was riddled with inconsistencies [and] errors (sharks cannot float or roar like lions" (though it should be noted that the shark in the both other sequels also, unbelievably, roared)).[21] The special effects were criticized, especially some frames of the shark being speared by the boat's prow. Also, the mechanisms propelling the shark can be seen in some shots.[1]

Within his otherwise lukewarm review, Derek Winnert ends with "the Bahamas backdrops are pretty and the shark looks as toothsome as ever."[31] Richard Scheib also praises the "beautiful above and below water photography" and the "realistic mechanical shark," although he considers the "the melodrama back on dry land... a bore."[32] Critics commented upon the sepia-toned flashbacks to the first film. A scene with Michael and Thea imitating each other is interspersed with shots from a similar scene in the 1975 film of Sean (Jay Mello) and Martin Brody. Similarly, the shark's destruction contains footage of Martin Brody aiming at the compressed air tank, saying "Smile, you son of a ...," The New York Times comments "nothing kills a sequel faster than reverence... Joseph Sargent, the director, has turned this into a color-by-numbers version of Steven Spielberg's original Jaws."[33]

The film received the award for "Worst Special Visual Effects" (Henry Millar), and was nominated for six other 1987 Golden Raspberry Awards, including worst picture, director, actor ("Bruce the shark"), actress (Gary), supporting actor (Caine), and screenplay.[34]

Cultural impact

The increasing number of sequels in the Jaws series was spoofed in Back to the Future Part II (which was produced by Steven Spielberg and featured Jaws 3 star Lea Thompson), when Marty McFly travels to the year 2015 and sees a theater showing Jaws 19, (directed by Max Spielberg) with the tagline "This time it's REALLY personal!". This alludes to the tagline of Jaws: The Revenge: "This time it's personal."[35] After being 'attacked' by a holographic image of the shark, Marty comments that "the shark still looks fake."

Comedian Richard Jeni performed a popular stand-up routine based solely on this movie.[36]


  1. ^ a b c d Begg, Ken. "Jaws: The Revenge - Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension". Retrieved 2006-09-20.  
  2. ^ a b Universal Studios (1987). "Karen Young "Jaws The Revenge" Universal News". Press release.  
  3. ^ Universal Studios (1987). "Joseph Sargent "Jaws The Revenge" Universal News". Press release.  
  4. ^ The Making of Jaws. Documentary on Jaws DVD, directed by Laurent Bouzereau
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Universal Studios (1987). ""Jaws The Revenge": Production Notes, Universal News". Press release.  
  6. ^ "Jaws: The Revenge". Allmovie. Retrieved 2007-05-31.  
  7. ^ "Behind the Scenes with 'Jaws: The Revenge'". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-05-31.  
  8. ^ a b Weinberg, Mark (October 1993). "Surprise Endings". Orange Coast (Emmis Communications) 19 (10): 119. ISSN 0279-0483.  
  9. ^ a b Ebert, Roger. "Jaws the Revenge". Retrieved 2006-09-18.  
  10. ^ a b Universal Studios (1987). "Lorraine Gary "Jaws The Revenge" Universal News". Press release.  
  11. ^ Universal Studios (1987). "Michael Caine "Jaws The Revenge" Universal News". Press release.  
  12. ^ "Jaws: The Revenge". Retrieved 2007-06-01.  
  13. ^ Caine, Michael (1992). What's it All About. Century. p. 445. ISBN 071263567X.  
  14. ^ Universal Studios (1987). "Lance Guest "Jaws The Revenge" Universal News". Press release.  
  15. ^ "Judith Barsi: The Concrete Angel". Retrieved 2008-05-08.  
  16. ^ Universal Studios (1987). "Mario Van Peebles "Jaws The Revenge" Universal News". Press release.  
  17. ^ "Michael Small (I)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-06-01.  
  18. ^ Goldwasser, Dan (2000-06-29). "Jaws: The Revenge Promotional Release (MSML 1001)". Retrieved 2007-06-01.  
  19. ^ "You Got It All by The Jets". Retrieved 2007-06-01.  
  20. ^ a b Benjamin, AK (2000-09-25). "Jaws: The Revenge ***". Retrieved 2007-06-01.  
  21. ^ a b c Leigh, Spencer (9 January 2004). "Michael Small - Prolific film composer". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-09-19.  
  22. ^ Messenger, Neil. "JAWS THE REVENGE". Archived from the original on 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-01.  
  23. ^ "Hank Searls Writers Workshops". Retrieved 2007-02-11.  
  24. ^ "Business Data for Jaws: The Revenge (1987)". IMDB. Retrieved 2007-02-11.  
  25. ^ "JAWS IV: THE REVENGE". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-02-11.  
  26. ^ "JAWS 3-D". BoxOffice Mojo. Retrieved 2007-01-13.  
  27. ^ "Jaws". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-01-11.  
  28. ^ "Jaws 2". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-02-11.  
  29. ^ "Jaws 4 - The Revenge (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-05-28.  
  30. ^ "The 25 Worst Sequels Ever Made - 10. Jaws: The Revenge (1987)". Entertainment Weekly.,,1169126_17,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-26.  
  31. ^ Winnert, Derek (1993). Radio Times Film & Video Guide 1994. London: Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 546. ISBN 0-340-57477-1.  
  32. ^ Scheib, Richard. "JAWS: THE REVENGE". Retrieved 2007-05-31.  
  33. ^ James, Caryn (1987-07-18). "Film: 'Jaws the Revenge,' The Fourth in the Series". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-01.  
  34. ^ "1987 Archive". Retrieved 2006-12-11.  
  35. ^ Franklin, Garth. "A DVD Review of the Back to the Future Trilogy boxset". Dark Horizons. Retrieved 2007-05-28.  
  36. ^ Jeni, Richard. "Jaws 4: The Revenge, by Richard Jeni (stand-up routine)". Retrieved 2007-05-28.  

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