In addition to being obsessed by all things werewolf astute readers will note that I also have a strong interest in sharks. Movies, TV shows, you name it, mention the word shark and I’m hooked. All of which as a horror fan (and nature-horror fan in particular) makes sense; since arguably the greatest horror movie ever made was about a killer shark.
This month I want to clue my like minded readers into a movie they might not have seen, but one that contains perhaps one of the more frightening shark attacks you will ever see. Starring Burt Reynolds, Sam Fuller’s 1969 film “Shark” is far from a classic (including when compared to Fuller’s other works). And this is for a number of reasons.
For one thing the movie was cursed by disaster after disaster – including the tragic death of one of the stuntmen, a man named Jose Marco. Now when it comes to the particulars the waters get muddy quick – some claim a great white shark broke into the enclosure where they were filming (off the coast of Mexico) and devoured the unfortunate stunt diver. Others state that a shark used in filming was improperly sedated and took Mr. Marcos life (by all accounts this is the most credible version of what happened). Either way this is not only an incident that demands we respect his memory, but also a wake up call to all of you who may not understand how horribly dangerous stunt work can be.
It was Jose Marcos’ death and the production company’s subsequent decision to publicize it in marketing the movie that was the final straw for Fuller – who immediately quit and demanded that his name be stricken from the film. Of course the production company refused to do so. They instead patched together a sloppily edited final product that in spite of its rough treatment actually proves a mildly entertaining product largely because of the scenes already filmed by the very capable Fuller. Mind you, this is still the kind of entertaining that revolves around you being awake late at night flipping channels and this is what you settle on – though the story isn’t too bad and I must admit that there are some cool non-shark action scenes.
Speaking of Fuller’s talents, let’s look at the movie’s actual shark attacks. There are only two real attacks, as the film is not about about shark attacks at all. It is the story of a mismatched team of undersea treasure hunters that includes a gun-runner (Reynolds), a professor, and his hot assistant. Please note that by all accounts no footage of Jose Marcos death was used in this film, a minor miracle considering how much the blood sucking film producers tried to exploit Mr. Marcos’ death to sell tickets. However, the attack with which the movie begins is decidedly realistic. Though the set-up is long (with the diver swimming around a wreck hunting for treasure), the pay-off is terrifying: