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Der Weisse Hai / Stillness in the Water

USA 1975
produced by
David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck for Zanuck/Brown Productions, Universal
directed by Steven Spielberg
starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie, Jonathan Filley, Ted Grossman, Chris Rebello, Jay Mello, Lee Fierro, Jeffrey Voorhees, Craig Kingsbury, Robert Nevin, Peter Benchley
screenplay by Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb, based on the novel by Peter Benchley, music by John Williams, special effects by Robert A. Mattey


review by
Mike Haberfelner

Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider) has only recently moved from New York City to Amityville, a tourist island off the Florida coast, with his family (Lorraine Gary, Chris Rebello, Jay Mello) to get away from all the dangers of big city life - but then on the beach a mutilated corpse of a girl is found, rather obviously the victim of a shark attack. Brody wants to close up all the beaches until the beast is caught, but the greedy mayor (Murray Hamilton) fearing for the tourist Dollar in the wake of the island's 4th of July celebrations talks him out of it. And then a boy is devoured by a shark in the middle of the day, not far from the beach and in everyone's sight. Again, Brody wants to close all the beaches, but the mayor is having none of it, but organizes a big shark search offering a reward. And with dozens of boats out on sea, one's just bound to catch a shark - and one does, and everybody's so happy and proud ... everybody but marine biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), who argues the radius of the captured and killed shark's jaw is to small to have inflicted the injuries of the girl. Of course, everybody wants to get on with the celebrations, so nobody - but Brody - listens to Hooper. But then, on 4th of July, the shark shows up again, kills someone in plain sight, and proves to be a big white one. Now even the mayor can't deny Brody his wish to close the beaches anymore, but Brody also intends to go on the offensive, as he hires shark hunter and all-around tough guy Quint (Robert Shaw) to track down and kill the big white one, and he and Hooper accompany him on his boat - even though he has many reservations against young and brainy Hooper, who he thinks still has to prove himself as a man. But as Hooper knows how to behave on a boat, he and Quint soon warm up to one another, and between the three of them, they manage to track down the shark and even attract it to their boat. But said shark isn't exactly a light-weight, and he goes on the offensive against our heroes, damaging the boat more and more in the process - and eventually, Quint has to admit that it needs more than just a man to kill that particular shark, and now Hooper takes over with his much more scientific methods. Ultimately though, while Quint is allowed to die the hero's death, Brody, who has always hated the sea, is the one who gets to blow up the shark as some sort of redemption or stuff.


In times like these it's almost unfathomable there's anything but playing in the cinemas, but back in 1975, Jaws was one of the very first blockbusters, and it pretty much laid the groundwork of things to come - and not only in a good way.

Now basically, Jaws has many an iconic scene, it's very well made and well played, and the Jaws theme is so captivating that one tends to forget the rest of John Williams' score is rather bland. And Steven Spielberg, who has with this one latest turned away from his New Hollywood roots, sure knows how to create suspense and shocks - but frankly he proves himself more of a craftsman in that aspect, rather than a visionary like Alfred Hitchcock. As the whole thing actually seems rather crafted: The script is formulaic as hell, hardly any of the characters apart from Brody show any depth (with Robert Shaw's Quint being an especially crude caricature of a seafaring man) and many situations seem incredibly forced - some cringeworthily so, like when Quint and Hooper compare scars to prove one another they're real men. And all of this is really what plagues blockbusters to this day (though of course there are many exceptions), well-crafted pieces of genre entertainment made after a (well-documented) formula that look great but feel bland. And I don't even want to pan Jaws, it does have its moments, but just because it was one of the first blockbusters back in its day doesn't make it especially special.


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD