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Posted on June 20, 2020

Jaws: Novel vs. Film

Dawn Keetley/ Elizabeth Erwin

On the 45th anniversary of the release of the film that made people afraid to go in the ocean, we consider Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) in relation to Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel. Which is better? Or, perhaps a more useful question, what do the novel and film uniquely do? Check out answers by Elizabeth Erwin and Dawn Keetley.

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Posted on July 5, 2015

Jaws, The Slasher, and the Encounter at the Heart of Horror

Dawn Keetley

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Jaws was released on June 20, 1975, and the story of its immense critical and popular success doesn’t need to be rehearsed here. Suffice it to say that not since Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho had a film so terrified audiences.

On every count, Jaws is a masterpiece. This summer marks its 40th anniversary—and it’s still as powerful as it was in 1975. Not least, for much of the film only minimally visible and identified by the unforgettably ominous theme music composed by John Williams, the shark itself is still utterly chilling. And the acting is brilliant—notably Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hopper, and the truly incomparable Robert Shaw as Quint. Read more

Posted on July 5, 2015

Why Jaws Remains at the Top of the Horror Game


Today is a symbiotic day for me to write this piece. I spent the day traveling to Virginia and, as I drove further and further south, I had flashbacks to scenes from Wrong Turn (2003) and Jeepers Creepers (2001). At one point I was certain that I drove past the exact point where Darry (Justin Long) climbed down that creepy pipe in the monster’s yard and I was momentarily convinced there were bodies down there. Unlike those in every horror film made, I was smart enough not to go back and investigate. That being said, I pondered something that I heard in a the documentary Why Horror (2014) where someone makes this beautifully obvious yet understated point that horror is really the only genre that leaves a lasting emotional imprint on a person. It becomes a reference point for so many things in our lives. Its images are the darkness beyond the trees, the monster beneath the bed, and the reason we know to never say “I’ll be right back.” Every time I drive south, I immediately picture these scenes from wrong turns down dusty roads. And every time anyone, I mean anyone, goes in the water they certainly conjure up images of…Jaws (1975).

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