Directed by Jack Sholder
Written by Richard Fernicola (book) Jeffrey Reiner and Tommy Lee Wallace (teleplay)
Starring: Colin Egglesfield, Mark Dexter, Jenna Harrison, John Rhys-Davies
IMDb 5.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes NO DATA Metacritic NO DATA
Originally a made for television film, this story is based off of the Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916. That year, in a span of twelve days, five people were bitten in the course of a shark attack. Only one of those victims survived. During these particular times, in this age of the early 1900s, very little was known about sharks. Experts largely based their “findings and opinions” on guesswork and conjecture. Because of this, even after the second attack experts were saying that more attacks were practically impossible. They claimed that they were fluke incidents and allowed the beaches to remain open. It was an unusually hot summer that year bringing warm currents up from more southern waters. With these currents came the sharks. Eventually, the shark believed to be the killer man-eater was caught and life returned back to normal. Or somewhat normal. After these attacks steel fences were installed along the coastal waters to prevent anymore sharks from reaching that close to shore. These incidents also sparked a profound interest in sharks and their behaviors launching numerous studies and the worldwide interest in the great beasts of the sea.
As far as this film goes, it’s fairly accurate to the documented story. The difference is that in the film it seems to imply that all the attacks were in one area and that’s not the case. These attacks happened up and down the shoreline in three different areas. But, other than that, the rest is fairly accurate. A few details were changed but that always happens when Hollywood decides to film history.
There were five victims in the attacks over those twelve days.
July 1- Beach Haven, Charles Epting Vansant, 25, attacked while swimming off shore, left thigh stripped of its flesh, bled to death
July 6- 45 miles North from first attack, Charles Bruder, 27, attacked while swimming 130 yards off shore, bitten in abdomen and legs were severed, rescued by lifeguards in lifeboat, bled out on the way back to shore
July 12- 30 miles North of second attack, Lester Stillwell, 11, attacked while swimming in creek that branched off from sea line, pulled under by shark; Watson Stanley Fisher, 24, bitten in the leg while trying to recover the body of Lester Stillwell, bled to death in route to hospital; Joseph Dunn, 14, attacked while swimming in creek, left leg bitten, pulled to safety by brother and friend, only victim to survive, permanently injured.
This is the story that inspired Jaws. There are a number of similarities between this movie and Jaws. We have a character that resembles Quint. We have a Mayor who is a royal putz. The little boy, Lester, we see his parents at the edge of the creek hoping that Fisher will rescue their son. There’s the massive hunt for the shark that a lot of people get in on for the reward offered to catch and kill the shark. Just madness all around.
This was a very good shark movie. It was filmed well and the acting is good. The movie had suspense and was a chilling blast into the past. It seemed so much more REAL LIFE than Jaws and this is much more believable, even though Jaws is one of my all-time favorite movies. I could recommend this movie to almost anyone. I really did think it was that good. And it’s only 1h29m so, once again, it’s not long and drawn out to where our attention breaks. See if you guys can find it, it’s definitely one to watch.