Underrated Sequel: JAWS 2 (1978)

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”

Much like Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, Steven Speilberg’s JAWS is a universally acclaimed masterpiece, and both films transcend the horror genre and made people all over the world terrified of showers and the Ocean. Hell, when I was a kid I was actually afraid that a shark would kill me IN MY SHOWER, something that has probably been put to screen in some dumb Sharknado movie, but anyways — I digress. Both of these highly influential movies spawned an underrated second sequel thats generally scoffed at by the mainstream movie goer, even when they shouldn’t be!

With the July 4th festivies just behind us, and summer now in full swing, I revisited the sequel to JAWS and contrary to the usual “THOSE SEQUELS SUCK!” mentality i hear a lot, JAWS 2 remains one of my favorite second offerings of any franchise. It may not have Hooper or Quint and it certainly isn’t as tension filled as JAWS, but that never bothered me, I’ve simply never not enjoyed myself while watching this crazy movie. Roy Scheider gets a round of applause from me, he didn’t even want to make this picture, and despite his reluctance, he pledged to make Brody as believable as possible and do the best job he could. It shows, as he fully completes Brody’s arch making the character one of the best unsung Heros of Horror that we’ve ever had.


1978 d. Jeannot Szwarc

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”

A few years after the shark attacks that shook Amity Island to its core, Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) begins to suspect new trouble may be lurking out past the sandy white beaches of Amity after the disappearance of two deep sea divers (only their underwater camera was found) near the wreckage of the Orca and a bizarre “boating accident” leaving two more people unaccounted for. Meanwhile, America’s favorite anchor suited Mayor (Murray Hamilton!) along with the Amity town council are hard at work trying to finally rid the beach town of its Human dinner bell reputation with the opening of a shiny new Hotel/resort. More summer tourists mean more summer dollars!

Brody’s suspicions soon turn to reality when the chewed up corpse of a killer whale washes ashore and the film is developed from the missing divers camera, revealing the what looks to be the eye and mouth of a Great White. Brody urges the town council to do something but his warnings fail. They thinks it’s post-traumatic stress and paranoia causing his “over reaction”. Things get even more personal for Brody, when what was supposed to be a joyful, sailboating pleasure ride by a group of young teens (including his two kids, Michael and Sean) becomes a dangerous fight for survival against a Great White shark with a voracious appetite for blood.

JAWS 2 is pretty much a shark slasher flick thats reminiscent of an early FRIDAY THE 13th sequels, as the young Amity inhabitants get stalked and picked off one by one by the massive (and very vaguely hinted at by Brody possibly being supernaturally seeking revenge???) Shark. This was a staple on TV in my early years and I’ve probably watched it almost as many times as JAWS. It was even one of the first VHS tapes I saved up money for as a kid! I usually always watch JAWS and JAWS 2 back to back, (the same as I do with HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN II) or sometimes I’ll pair it up with FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II or PSYCHO II for some fun slasher triple bill madness.

Chief Brody’s use of a yellow barrel from the first film as a flower pot is a great homage to the original, and I love the returning townspeople such as Murray Hamilton as cinema’s most hated Mayor, Jeffery Kramer as loyal Deputy Hendricks, “Bad Hat” Harry and “I don’t think that’s funny, I don’t think that’s funny at all” Lady from the first film (Last two nicknames courtesy of Hayden!). There inclusion makes me feel like I just slipped on my favorite pair of flip flops and went to Amity Island. Also, the group of teenagers are surprisingly relatable, they aren’t overused and eventually they band together towards the end to try and stay alive. Definitely a welcome departure from the “Let’s split up gang!” mentality.

Every once in a while I’ll get called out on loving this movie so much. Sometimes I think people worry about critically dissecting movies WAY too much that they lose appreciation for the spectacle that brought them to the theater in the first place, Enjoyment! Not whether or not the lighting featured in a 47 second scene is a “personal aesthetic”. Over-analyzation can sure be a mood killer! I don't care what anyone says, a shark taking out a helicopter is awesome!

Besides, where else would I be able to see Chief Brody CYANIDE TIPPING HIS BULLETS and (In full Dr. Loomis mode a la HALLOWEEN II) violently waving his gun around on a crowded beach like a raving lunatic before firing a barrage of poisoned lead at a school of bluefish (and completely terrifying the beach goers) that he thinks is the outline of a shark?


Last summer, Universal finally released all of the JAWS sequels on blu-ray. They have the same features as the old DVD’s did and retail at about $9.99 on Amazon.

So is JAWS 2 worth your time? You bet your ass it is. It’s early 80's slasher vibe and stalwart performances are more than enough to keep this sequel afloat, and another reminder why you should always look over your shoulder when in the water. You never know what’s lurking around you.

4 shark fins out of five. Buy it!

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