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The Shark that Took a Bite out of Horror

Grace Dawson, Editor

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In 1975 the public was terrified by the image of a shark swimming across the movie screen. This shark was only seen once or twice, and yet the movie became a phenomenon. The ocean was suddenly a terrifying place, and only one director with a special script could do this. That movie was Jaws, directed by a relatively unknown director at the time, Steven Spielberg.

While the idea of a beast lurking in the ocean depths is not original, the movie is a cinematic wonder. Perhaps the only thing it is lacking is a sharp and original plot, however, it is covered up with wonderful horror elements. This movie pioneered many common horror tropes (or a recurring theme over many horror movies), some of which Spielberg used again in Jurassic Park.

The element of a danger that is not seen, yet is known about, was a happy accident in this movie. Their ‘shark’, lovingly named Bruce, after someone’s lawyer, was a dysfunctional animatronic, which broke down enough that it forced Spielberg to change the way he filmed. Since the shark could not be seen most of the time, he had to use other elements to let the audience feel like they were being stalked. Through clever perspectives he managed to only use the actual body of the shark in a few shots.

This new way of filming horror movies is still used today, and is only one reason why ‘the shark movie’ still terrifies. Even forty years after Bruce the shark first lurked in the ocean, theaters fill to see the movie and scream at the pure terror.

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The Shark that Took a Bite out of Horror