The Last Shark (1981)

Released in the U.S. under the title, “Great White,” in 1982, the movie went as quckly as it had come into theatres at the time due to Steven Spielberg and Universal Studios having the film barred from distribution due to the blaring similarities to JAWS and JAWS 2. The company that distributed the film in the US went bankrupt and the producer disappeared.

Getting to the film itself, it has always had a mystique being banned in the US and not seeing video release. Released in other countries as “The Last Shark” or “The Last Jaws” the film is not completely lost. Having wondered whatever happened to this movie and why there wasn’t a video release ever, I was surprised that “Great White” was available abroad under different titles. Having seen the film, I have to say that it wasn’t anything special at all. The film is Italian with some of the actors clearly dubbed and a shark that could be a giant pool toy. The stock footage of real sharks sometimes helps but there is one where the silhouette is of a nurse shark and not a great white.

The late James Franciscus and Vic Morrow do as much as they can with their roles and do bring something to a film with no shortage of bad lines and wooden acting co-stars. But there’s no sense of humor or interesting characters which helped “Piranha” overcome its extremely low budget special effects. There are a lot of slow scenes and the film is clearly not realistic such as the Mayor fishing for the shark with a side of beef dangling from a helicopter or the Shark shooter using a small rifle from a pier. Also, when one of the victims disappears while windsurfing, his friends go on a boat to look for him rather than calling the coast guard or police. The film fails by going for a quick scare and not building up the suspense to a crescendo that Speilberg did.