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Cruel Jaws Review

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 23 - 2010
We’re gearing up for a month of classic horror here on Varied Celluloid, but while there’s still some of September left we’re trying to get all of our other genre-love out in the open! With that said, I hope you enjoy this masterful piece of Jawsploitation from the great Bruno Mattei! Prepare yourself for Cruel Jaws!

The Plot: Deep in the heart of Florida, Dag Snerensen (Richard Dew) runs an aquatic zoo very similar to Sea-World. Unfortunately Dag is a little behind on his rent and the mayor is looking to take over his property in order to use it in the midst of a big property deal that will secure him a fortune. When Dag’s young friend Billy shows up with his new girlfriend, they let their love for marine biology shine through and the girls generally sit on the sidelines wondering what is going on. Thankfully these two experts are in town to join forces, because it seems that a crazed Tiger Shark has made its way onto their shore and is currently picking off every fun loving teen that hits up the beach. When the town has their annual Regatta (a fancy term for a boat race), the shark makes a special guest appearance. Now the mayor has no choice but to close the beaches and send Dag & Billy out on a mission to find one Tiger Shark!







CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

Cruel Jaws

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 23 - 2010
The Plot: Deep in the heart of Florida, Dag Snerensen (Richard Dew) runs an aquatic zoo very similar to Sea-World. Unfortunately Dag is a little behind on his rent and the mayor is looking to take over his property in order to use it in the midst of a big property deal that will secure him a fortune. When Dag’s young friend Billy shows up with his new girlfriend, they let their love for marine biology shine through and the girls generally sit on the sidelines wondering what is going on. Thankfully these two experts are in town to join forces, because it seems that a crazed Tiger Shark has made its way onto their shore and is currently picking off every fun loving teen that hits up the beach. When the town has their annual Regatta (a fancy term for a boat race), the shark makes a special guest appearance. Now the mayor has no choice but to close the beaches and send Dag & Billy out on a mission to find one Tiger Shark!







The Review
The magical world of cinema is a landscape of varying hills and mountaintops. You often have the great mountainous peaks of artistic achievement that overshadow the valleys, where so many lesser films dwell on their very solid plain of existence. When you take a look a few miles down these great plains however, you can see a great crater. This is where you’ll find the lesser of the lesser-films. Then, at the bottom of that crater is another giant bottomless hole where you’ll find the abominations of all things good and decent. This is precisely where you’ll find the majority of Bruno Mattei’s film output, but more importantly this is where you’ll find Cruel Jaws. Although I had held Enzo G. Castellari’s Great White up on the top of a pedestal reserved for the greatest Jawsploitation films ever made, Cruel Jaws throws down the gauntlet of competition. For readers who are not familiar, Jawsploitation is the moniker held for a select number of films that have borrowed so much from Steven Spielbergh’s magnum opus Jaws that the only way to describe it is: wholesale ripoff. Also, the grading scale for a Jawsploitation usually works in negative numbers. Truly, there are few genres that reach such milestones of utter trash. Very few of these films ever come remotely close to having suspense or anything resembling “good” qualities. Great White had long been considered my favorite of the genre for how audacious and ridiculous it is, and although it pains me as a fan of Great White, I must admit that Cruel Jaws escalates the insanity by leaps and bounds.

Bruno Mattei delivers on every pitfall that his close friend Claudio Fragrasso made with Troll 2. The only reason Cruel Jaws hasn’t made it to the top of the world’s “best worst movie” list is simply due to its obscurity. A tragedy if there ever was one! The performances in Cruel Jaws are obviously amateurish and features a dominantly American cast who were likely as perplexed as those who had to read through the script on Claudio Fragrasso’s masterpiece. The language barrier could have been a dominating factor here, as every performance is universally over the top. The dialogue lends itself to being shouted, as its the only way the cast could have possibly eked any kind of inspiration in the words. I can simply imagine the confusion on set while watching, as our leading man Billy has to deadpan his way through such amazing lines as: “This had to be a Tiger Shark, its jaws have to be THIS BIG” which of course is followed by the actor demonstrating just how big the jaws were with his hands. As if this so called scientist couldn’t express the size of the jawspan with inches or feet, he has to revert to kindergarten degrees of measurement. Cruel Jaws is best described not as a movie, but a series of randomly bizarre demonstrations of poor filmmaking. Yet, for this very reason it becomes one of the most entertaining films you could EVER sit down to watch.

You could name a cinematic law and this film does its best to break it, guaranteed. If you’ve seen more than a handful of cheap horror movies, you’re familiar with “day for night” shots. This is a technique that is forgivable only when it is used sparingly. When it is used in a limited manner, it can remain almost unnoticeable. There are huge segments of Cruel Jaws that are unfortunately tinted with a blue filter in order to give the impression of night time even when the sun is clearly visible in the sky. You would think that after several minutes of this you would simply block it out of your mind. No, however, that is not the case. The silliness just keeps on coming after we get odd character moment after character moment. Odd things happen throughout this movie, such as Sherriff Francis dashing out of his office and making the weakest hurdle that any action film has ever seen. His leap over this tiny guard rail is supposed to speak “action” in the mind of the audience, but like most things in the picture it comes off as forced and oddly humorous. When the Hulk Hogan look-a-like that is Dag Snerensen unknowingly interrupts a group of saboteurs who were looking to poison his dolphin, he stumbles upon their pail of fish and realizes that these fish are poisoned… after SMELLING them. Apparently the saboteurs were using a poison that had an odor that was so prominent that it overshadowed the fragrance of dead fish. Not only that, but Dag somehow KNEW this particular poison and what it regularly smells like. Confusing, you betcha!

Did I mention that this film features the single most accurate description of a shark ever? When asked to describe the Tiger shark, the doctor approaches the situation from layman’s terms… and by layman, I mean from the mindset of a lunatic who has no grip on reality as he describes the shark in such a way: “Well, they’re sort of a locomotive, with butcher’s knives for teeth and all they really know how to do is eat, swim and make baby sharks.” Sort of like a locomotive? With butcher’s knives for teeth? I hate to continually harp on random scene after scene but that is all this movie really is. If you’re a fan of b-movies, when you turn on Cruel Jaws it should be like catching a glimpse of heaven. The movie is so much fun that I haven’t even mentioned how blatant its attempts at trying to rip off Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws are. There are actually scenes lifted directly from Jaws here! Do you remember when the fisherman caught that smaller shark in Jaws, the one that Hooper claimed was too small because of its jaw-span? That scene is here. Do you remember when the coroner told Brody that he believed the young girl on the beach had died from a shark attack, but after being pressured by the mayor he changed his tune and claimed that the damage could have been caused by a propeller? That’s here as well. What about that sequence where the mayor finally understands that he has to pay Quint to catch the shark after Brody puts the pressure on him and the mayor retaliates with that one line about his own child being on that beach as well? Uh huh. The funny thing is that they actually avoided having a Quint-like character in Cruel Jaws for some reason, despite his being one of the most beloved characters from the film. I mean, they even use the line “We’re gonna need a bigger helicopter!”, but they leave out Quint! Instead of a Quint-esque character being paid by the mayor this time around, we have the Sherrif, Dag and Billy pressuring the mayor into putting out a massive bounty… only for the three of them to go out trying to collect it. So, essentially the main motivation for our heroes is not to stop the shark but to collect the money in order to selfishly keep their Sea-World-esque aquatic zoo open. Are we supposed to actually LIKE these characters?

The Conclusion
My opinion on Cruel Jaws? It is poorly made. It is inept. There are few technical points that make this movie intentionally enjoyable. However, it is so incredibly entertaining that I honestly could not help but fall head over heels in love with it. If you are the type of viewer who does not get the mystique of “So bad it’s good” cinema, then avoid this like it were the black plague. However, if you like your Jawsploitation and you like it as dumb as a box of rocks – FIND THIS!



Django and Sartana Are Coming… It’s the End!

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 22 - 2010
Hey everybody! We’re gearing up for Halloween Horrors, but that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned all of the other great genres that we usually cover on here! Here we have a spectacularly bad piece of Spaghetti Western history for you to chew on and look forward to a grand Jawsploitation title as well as some more CAT III madness in the next couple of days!

The Plot: Burt Kelly (Gordon Mitchell) is a maniac outlaw with no firm grasp on reality. While looking to cross the border and escape the law, he decides to kidnap a rich landowners daughter in attempt to keep her as a bargaining chip. This escalates the already high bounty on Kelly’s head and this draws the bounty killer Django into the equation as he now has Kelly in his sites. Sartana, who is acting as a vigilante, already has Kelly on his hitlist and Burt already knows this. So he tries to eliminate Sartana unsuccessfully but this ultimately draws both Django and Sartana to the same side of the coin as both men set out to put an end to the psychotic reign of Black Burt Kelly once and for all!






CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

Django and Sartana Are Coming… It’s the End!

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 22 - 2010
The Plot: Burt Kelly (Gordon Mitchell) is a maniac outlaw with no firm grasp on reality. While looking to cross the border and escape the law, he decides to kidnap a rich landowners daughter in attempt to keep her as a bargaining chip. This escalates the already high bounty on Kelly’s head and this draws the bounty killer Django into the equation as he now has Kelly in his sites. Sartana, who is acting as a vigilante, already has Kelly on his hitlist and Burt already knows this. So he tries to eliminate Sartana unsuccessfully but this ultimately draws both Django and Sartana to the same side of the coin as both men set out to put an end to the psychotic reign of Black Burt Kelly once and for all!




The Review
Although slightly classier than most other Italian genre films that had their swing in popularity throughout the better half of the sixties and seventies, the Spaghetti Western is not without its moments of exploitation and ridiculousness. Django and Sartana Are Coming… It’s the End! is a prime example of this exploitative element. Similar to the genre of Brucesploitation (see: Dragon Lives Again, Goodbye Bruce Lee or Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave) this film shows that same “Let’s do anything for a buck!” mentality that can be found in almost any subgenre of exploitation cinema. For those who don’t follow, if you’re expecting to see Franco Nero back in his role as Django or Gianni Garko reprise his role as Sartana… you are going to be sorely let down. Going into this movie, I knew what to expect of course but it is still somewhat surprising to see an unofficial title being so brazen about their stealing of these characters. Even within the brucesploitation realm it is often tricky to find a movie that actually has a character playing the role of Bruce Lee himself if it is not a historical piece of some sort. So, with the filmmakers obviously going so over the top as to hijack these characters you can probably expect a raucous and wild piece of exploitation in the old west, correct? Well, let me just spoil the entire review for you right now as the answer to that question is a definitive and painstakingly dull: NO. It is unfortunate that the filmmakers could steal so much but completely lose sight of what makes any western remotely fun.

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression, from a technical standpoint Django and Sartana… is not a terrible piece of genre filmmaking. The overall look of the movie is actually quite nice. I can say whatever I want about the project on the whole, but it most certainly deviates from genre in the way that it actually looks. Having more in common with a John Ford western than something from Sergio Leone, the movie has a slightly traditional look to it. The costumes are slightly campy, the desert is shown as being very dry and the characters aren’t quite as dingy and beat up as you would normally expect from a Spaghetti Western. There is also a highly well made score to go along with the interesting visuals. Coriolano Gori, who had worked many times within the genre, crafts what is possibly the best score that I have personally heard from him. Mind you I have only seen a few of the MANY titles that he is credited as composer. The score really invokes a lot of Morricone in it, which is never a bad thing! The filmmakers even ran with this Morricone idea and essentially duplicated the opening animation for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly while highlighting how great this score is. The movie opens up with this and although it seems like it is in bad taste to rip off Leone in such a fashion, I still gave the film the benefit of a doubt after how tremendous the music was and how much I found myself enjoying it. Then the boredom inevitably set in and absolutely ruined everything for me.

Dick Spitfire is credited as the director of this film, which would be a fantastic name for a Gonnoreah suffering superhero. In reality it is the alias for one Diego Spataro who would later go by this alias on the project Go Away! Trinity Has Arrived in Eldorado!. According to the IMDB however, the film was directed by Spataro alongside veteran director Demofilo Fidani. Fidani has a bit of a reputation as one of the worst Spaghetti Western directors to make it. I am not familiar with his work to be honest, but Django and Sartana… certainly seems in keeping with everything that I have read. It is derivative, old hat and lacks any new or interesting concepts in order to keep the audiences attention. The absolute worst part is that this movie is just boring for its lack of direction or decent pacing. Nearly falling asleep while watching, I had to split up my viewings in order to stay awake. For a mere ninety minute film, this movie has more padding than a Orthopedic mattress. There is actually a five minute poker sequence in this movie that will boggle your mind if you ever have the misfortune to see it. Five minutes are literally wasted as we watch the back and forth of one of our heroes simply losing all of his money to a group of gambling cheats. Hands are dealt, wagers are called and the audience falls asleep. The only break we get from this tension-sucking whirlpool of boredom is a shot of a man riding in on a horse that goes on for an equally absurd amount of time. Speaking on the issue of horse riding, if there were a drinking game for Django and Sartana… it would be for every time someone rides horseback while the music swells around them. Going back to this poker game, the whole ordeal ultimately ends with our hero gunning down these cheats after losing yet another hand. This was another odd break from convention, but not necessarily a welcome one, as neither Django or Sartana come off as being particularly tough throughout this entire film. When it comes to fist fights, over and over again each man is beaten and bloodied. The superhero mentality is completely abandoned in this film as you actually never EXPECT these guys to win a fight.

The best part about the entire project may be the films title. Django and Sartana Are Coming… It’s the End!, that is a classic title! The other alias it often goes by is Django and Sartana: Showdown in the West which I am equally as big a fan of! Those are great titles, but unfortunately there is no showdown and you simply end up praying for the end. Wow, harsh much? Perhaps. This project certainly doesn’t deserve absolute venom, even though I have been relatively hard on it up until this point. Gordon Mitchell, who plays the lead villain Burt Kelly (often attributed as “Burt Keller”, I’m pretty confident that his name is written as Burt Kelly in the film), is really fantastic in his role and truly delivers the goods. His character is essentially the western version of The Joker, maniacal and psychotic with a penchant for chaos. There is a great moment in the film where Mitchell is actually playing poker with himself in the mirror and his growing anger is actually quite funny. Gordon Mitchell, Jack Betts (Sartana here) and Demofilo Fidani made quite a few pictures together with Betts and Mitchell at other ends of the good guy/bad guy spectrum, and if I didn’t fear that these movies would be so dreadfully boring I would actually search them out simply to see what Mitchell could deliver.

The Trivia
  • One of only two projects directed by Diego Spataro. He spent the majority of his career in various other positions from Production Assistant to Producer.

  • Photographed by an up and coming Joe D’Amato.


  • The Conclusion
    Django and Sartana.. is at best a very average movie and at worst a terror to have to sit through. It looks good enough, has a great score and features at least one very interesting performance. With those positives in mind, I give it a two rating. It came terribly close to garnering a one, but you know what this one doesn’t really do a whole lot to make itself that bad. It’s just unfortunately a very boring movie that probably encapsulates everything that outsiders generally hate about the western genre. I would say only check this one out if you’re a Fidani fan (hey, Bruno Mattei and Joe D’Amato have fans right?) or you’re simply a spaghetti western completest.



    SS Hell Camp Review by Prof. Aglaophotis

    Posted by Josh Samford On September - 16 - 2010
    It has been a busy week here at Varied Celluloid hasn’t it? Well the hits just keep on coming as Prof. Aglaophotis dedicates his time to another classic piece of nazisploitation! The SS has never seemed so cruel!

    The Plot: It’s World War II. As the terror of the Nazis rage on, rebel factions struggle to fight the soldiers of the Third Reich using sabotage and all the combat they can. However, as the rebels continue to wreck havoc, the commanding Nazis are forced to use extreme measures to stop them. One such measure includes the torture techniques of Dr. Helen Kratsch (Macha Magall), who has recently broken technological boundaries by creating an artificial man with a monstrous and often deadly libido. The leader of the rebels, Drago, must go toe-to-toe with the Nazis if he wishes to find his captured son and wife and lead the rebels to victory. The question is, how will he do it if killing is against his principles? Furthermore, will the horrifying experiments of Dr. Kratsch and the brutal Nazis draw an end to the Rebel faction?



    CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

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    Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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