The Jaws Effect: Still Scary 40 Years On

Girls Watching a Horror MovieMore than 40 years later, the influence of Spielberg’s “Jaws” continues to be evident in the biggest films today. The first “Alien” script pitched as “Jaws in space”, and the legacy of this horror genre continues in the upcoming 2017 sequel.

What inspired Jaws in the beginning may have been a smaller (but no less scary) creature called “Birds.” Jaws marked a new horror genre in the late 70s and inspired a great many horror movies — some say including “Basic Instinct” — and it continues to do so more than 40 years on.

Jaws in Space

Admittedly, it would have been the corniest horror movie ever if it was not for Sir Ridley Scott. Fortunately, Scott was already an accomplished TV commercial or production director; a master of the atmospheric with excellent editing skills and sense of timing – useful in a suspense plot.

Mind-deafening spaceship silence was his soundtrack, and like in Jaws, the creature itself is barely noticeable. Perhaps, and we know it is true, that not being able to see what scares you even more.

In another few weeks or so of silent suspense, the monster will once again emerge from the dark shadows onto the big screen in “Alien: The Covenant.” Hold on to your seats!

Jaws of the Rising Sun

We would have imagined ‘Godzilla’ was the “Jaws of Japan.” But that was from another time. In the late 70s, a more edge-the-seat kind of commercial horror came. The Toho studio discovered a new talent named Nobuhiko Obayashi for this job, and the brief was simple – to create a commercial success like Jaws.

The result was one of the biggest cult films of Japanese cinema, “House” – a head-severing, blood-spewing waking nightmare of a schoolgirl and her friends. The result was surreal surprises and at every turn of the scene – unexpectedness; the Jaws effect.

In the beginning, there was Birds

There was once another peaceful seaside town terrorised by another kind of creature – smaller but no less scary. The hunting style is hauntingly similar. They watch you and follow you from a vantage point. They attack when you least expect it. The audience knows, but they still scream when the birds start the rampage.

Many say that Hitchcock’s “Birds” greatly inspired Spielberg’s work during the 1970s. As for this coming May 2017, the “Alien” will greatly affect us, once again.

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