Baldwin: Take a bite out of Shark Week cinema

Greetings, my fellow fin-loving cinephiles Winchester!

Vacation season finds some of us venturing to beaches or tropical paradises to take in some rays, sand and waves. But some fear what lurks in the water and are content to sit on the beach watching everyone else splash and swim.

Besides the obvious fear of drowning, sharks are a big reason why some folks won’t enter the water.

Though many of us fear these aquatic predators, they nonetheless captivate the masses. Hence the need for the Discovery Channel to entertain viewers with the popular and highly-anticipated annual event of week-long programming celebrating the beast of the sea with “Shark Week.”

Shark Week is celebrating its 30th anniversary and continues to be a smorgasbord of everything shark.

What a better way to conclude this week than fishing for some good old shark cinema to sink your teeth into?

Let’s start with the pivotal film that set the benchmark for all shark cinema, “Jaws” (1975).

This classic is the thriller directed by then up-and-coming Steven Spielberg which was adapted from Peter Benchley’s novel about a great white shark that continually attacks the New England beach town of Amity Island.

Roy Scheider as police chief Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Hooper and Robert Shaw as the seasoned salty dog shark hunter Quint star in this classic with hopes of saving the beachgoers on an adventure to kill the shark.

“Jaws” was a box office smash and is considered the first summer blockbuster movie. “Jaws” is still popular and became a franchise with the release of three sequels, a making-of documentary, video games, a ride at Universal Studios and a ton of collectible merchandise.

The musical score itself is widely-known and recognizable even to people who haven’t seen the film.

For the film lovers of the absurd or campy cinema, Syfy’s popular “Sharknado” (2013) is perfect for you.

“Sharknado” sees Los Angeles get slammed by a hurricane causing sharks to attack the flooded city in any way one could think of and often in the funniest ways a shark could attack a person. It is zany and unrealistic, but that was the intent.

“Sharknado” was and is so popular each summer a sequel is released, each even more silly than the first. A sixth entry to the series is currently in development.

Syfy is popular for this and other B-movies featuring sharks such as “Megashark Versus Giant Octopus” (2009). If you enjoy movies that are so bad they are good, then tune into Syfy on Saturdays, as they claim it’s the scariest day on TV.

The survival shark film has become popular with the premise they are based on true events in the attempt to frighten viewers with more realistic encounters between man and beast.

2003’s “Open Water” focuses on a couple who go scuba diving in the Caribbean and find themselves in shark-infested waters, stranded miles away from shore.

In recent years, the more memorable shark attack films released were somewhat similar but effective were, “The Reef” (2010), “The Shallows” (2016), and last year’s, “47 Meters Down.” It was such a hit last summer, “48 Meters Down” is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2019.

But don’t fret, Aug. 10 will see the release of “The Meg.” This action adventure tale stars Jason Statham as he goes head-to-head with a 70-foot shark.

These are just a few titles to check out if you aren’t already stuffed to the gills with shark programming this week.

Don’t be a hammerhead and never watch or swim alone. Bring a chum and enjoy some shark-infested cinema.

Remember what comedian Tracy Morgan once shared, “Live everyday like it’s Shark Week.”

Have a fin-tastic film day.

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society (facebook.com/WCCfilmsociety). Find more from Rick on Facebook at facebook.com/ricksrhetoric/ and online at theintestinalfortitude.com/category/reviews-editorials/ricks-rhetoric. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.