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JAWS - A Dracula Movie?

Updated on July 14, 2014
Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull writes articles on topics such as religion and skepticism - original poetry and short-stories - and film/tv/book/game reviews.

Shark Awareness Day

In my last hub I reviewed and defended the recent American reboot of Godzilla by comparing the movie primarily to Steven Spielberg's greatest monster movies, Jaws and Jurassic Park. After rewatching Jaws and digesting it a bit more something dawned on me that hadn't ever before despite the fact that I've probably seen the movie more than a dozen times.

Seeing as how today, July 14th, is Shark Awareness Day, I thought I would enlighten you all with my wild theory. In this hub I'm going to discuss how the structure of Jaws almost perfectly mirrors the stereotypical vampire movie of the past and how it conforms to monster movie tropes despite just being about a big ass shark. To do this I am going to break down the movie piece by piece and character by character. Spoilers will be present, but honestly if you've never seen Jaws, really what the hell, go watch it!

Innocent Victim

In vampire films the fiendish phantasmal ghoul usually begins by feeding on several innocent victims, often young attractive women. Our first victim in the movie Jaws, whose death offers us our enigmatic introduction to the monster, is indeed a young skinny dipping woman. Vulnerable, young, attractive, carefree and then attacked in the dead of night.

We don't see the shark in the opening attack, like a vampire or a ghost our monstrous shark can attack without being seen if it chooses to and like a vampire it is driven not necessarily by evil but by hunger and lust for blood.

False Alarms

In many vampire films it is believed a plague is spreading as the anemic victims are discovered with seemingly incidental or accidental wounds. It is very rare in a vampire movie for the deceased victims to be immediately linked to the true undead menace that is behind things. Rather there is usually an attempt to explain away the first victim or victims as being killed by natural or accidental causes.

In Jaws our shark's first victim is blamed on a boating accident and just like with a vampire it is ultimately the bite marks and the type of the bite particularly that eventually points us in the right direction.

The attacks continue as our hero walks a thin line between the Mayors money driven requests and the good of the people that need to be protected, including his own family.

The Characters

So with the basic set up out of the way now we have to dig into the characters and how they match up fairly well with monster movie archetypes and specifically the sort of thing we would expect to find in a dracula movie.

Quint as Van Helsing -

Quint is the quintessential (I couldn't resist) vampire hunter, the Van Helsing to Jaw's Dracula who enjoys and makes a lucrative living hunting down the undead. Quint has a personal history with the monsters in question as sharks picked off many of his fellow soldiers during the sinking of the Indianapolis he describes in the film. So now with a vendetta against sharks Van Helsing has come up against his ultimate enemy, the one he's been looking for, the one who breaks all the rules, Alucard himself.

Hooper as the Monk -

The Monk is well versed in the undead, he is a priest, holy and upright but has lived a sheltered life within the confines of the monastery. His contact with the undead has been primarily hypothetical only, his is an academic, though he has, on rare occasions, had to get his hands dirty and actually do some vampire killing.

Hooper fits this stereotype well, he has the knowledge that Quint lacks while Quint has the experience and strong instinct that Hooper lacks.

Brody as the Everyman Hero

Chief Brody is the villager (or knight) who realizes, almost too late, what is really going on and tries to rally the forces against the monster. When raising an angry mob against the blood-sucking servant of Satan fails he turns to the unstable and obsessed Quint and the inexperienced but knowledgeable Hooper to help deal with the vampire, I mean shark.

As a bonus Brody is also afraid of the castle, I mean ocean, where the enemy lives, but he sets aside his fear to do his duty for the common good.

Smile You Fanged Son of A-

Ultimately in a vampire movie you can only fully kill a Master Vampire when he is on his “home soil”, typically his own grave or, if he's not a truly resurrected vampire, his own castle or lair. It is best to do this when he is in his coffin and sleeping vulnerably. You can't deal with the threat in the city and waiting for the sun to come up and turn him to dust is a crap shoot at best. So the vampire hunters ultimately must go into the lair of evil and face the vampire on his own turf.

In Jaws this is obviously exactly what happens as the unsure heroes leave the safety of Amity Island behind to kill the shark once and for all. The third act of Jaws is the stuff of legend as we get some great character moments, thrilling scenes of the shark attacking and one of the most fitting action-movie one-liners in movie history.

Hooper, Brody and Quint compliment each other perfectly and form the unlikely trio of heroes that Amity Island needs as they leave the comfort of their homes to final stake this undead creature in the heart, or blow it up with an oxygen tank, whatever.

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Hub

In structure and character archetypes Jaws is a near-perfect monster movie that takes the elements of a small tourist town and an everyman hero and blends them with monster story tropes that are older than cinema itself.

It is amazing that to this day I am still discovering new things about a movie I've seen so many times.

Also, this was my 100th Hub! Thanks to everyone who reads these things, comments and follows me!


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    • Titen-Sxull profile image

      Titen-Sxull 4 months ago from back in the lab again

      That's actually a good point Moral Man, Dracula is a more romantic evil, hypnotic and unholy. Whereas Jaws is just an animal and usually we give animals more of a pass on their behavior. Jaws bears a close resemblance to most "slay the monster" movies and mythic stories, it's a tale as old as time so to speak.

      One of my favorite books as a kid was In the Wake of the Sea Serpents by Bernard Heuvelmans, I must have checked it out of the library in my home town two dozen times at least (they never seemed to have On the Track of Unknown Animals in stock). Unlike many so-called researchers here was an actual scientist trying to look at these things scientifically and categorize them based on actual biological classification not on speculation. I would love to believe these monsters are out there but as a skeptic I withhold my judgment until I see some good hard evidence.

      Still these subjects are ripe for stories and a lot of times the speculation, mythology and lore are better than the real answer would probably turn out anyway.

      Thanks for the comment!

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      Moral Man 4 months ago

      The original Jaws movie by Steven Speilberg has scared people away from the water, and Dracula is a land predator while the shark rules the oceans and a few freshwater lakes. The shark is an amoral, killing machine, or what could be called an example of Natural evil, or amoral evil, of which there are countless examples. Dracula is Moral evil, or a being who understands that his behavior is evil but who does it anyway. Natural evil is blind evil, while Moral evil is seeing evil. Moral evil is considered worse than Natural evil for many people. Moral evil might be worse than Natural evil, but Natural evil is a greater challenge to explain how an all good, all mighty, all wise creator God would create, cause, or allow such things to torture and ruin His creation.

      Sharks arent the only things to be scared of in the water, whether its the ocean, a lake, or river. Barracudas, Piranhas, catfish, candiru fish, octopus, squid, Portugeuse man of war, jellyfish, stingrays, stonefish, weeverfish,and crocodilians all terrorize the water.

      Cryptozoology is the subject of unknown or unidentified animals and monsters. Theres hundreds of them, whether on land, in the water, or in the air. The Dinosaur-like creatures from Africa are the Mokele-mbembe, the Emela N touka, the Chipekwe, and the Kasai rex.

      In Africa's Lake Victoria and in other lakes and rivers in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania lives a monster called by local tribes as the Lukwata. Its size and appearance are conflicting, and no one knows what it is. It could be some kind of fish, such as an eel, or some kind of snake with vocal cords, or a Pinniped or seal, a cetacean or Dolphin or whale, or a Plesiosaur. Or it could be an unknown mammal in an order of its own or an unknown reptile in an order of its own. Whatever it is, the natives fear it for its a mankiller and maneater.

      The European Sir Clement Hill, W. Grant the explorer, and T.E. Cox and his wife have all seen the Lukwata at different times and at different places along Lake Victoria. These animals are said to have a long neck and a fish like head, make bellowing roars, and they kill and eat large crocodiles and anyother animal they can catch, and will attempt to overturn boats and canoes to grab whoever is in it. Lukwatas are from 20 feet to 30 feet long and they resemble a cross between a snake and a whale. Its most likely some kind of aberrant Dolphin or whale living in freshwater and maybe even a surviving Zeuglodon. The Zeuglodons were prehistoric whales with a snake-like body and are one explanation for lake monsters and sea monsters. Author Bernard Heuvelmans wrote about the Lukwata in his books, On the Track of Unknown Animals, and the almost impossible to find The Last Dragons of Africa. These animals are scarier than sharks.

      The world we live in is full of living wonders and mysteries, but also full of dangers and horrors, which seems to increase as one gets closer to the equator.