Jaws 3-D (1983)

jaws 3-d

“You tell Shelby Overman for me he can take a flying leap in a rolling doughnut on a gravel driveway!”

The Scoop: 1983 PG, directed by Joe Alves and starring Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr., and Lea Thompson

Tagline: The third dimension is terror.

Summary Capsule: Gaudy 3-D effects, a PG script and slaphappy shark effects… brilliance or shame?

Justin’s rating: We’re gonna need a bigger stein of beer.

Justin’s review: There’s a good reason why the ’80s is nefariously known for sequels, and we might as well plunk down Jaws 3-D (aka Jaws 3) in front of them all. Yes, Jaws was a successful movie, but you’d think there’s only so many places one could go when the main antagonist is a giant shark with its own thudding soundtrack, and I think the first movie covered them all.

Alas, we get three sequels containing various degrees of torpor, all trying in vain to meld Speilberg’s classic with the ’80s horror mindset of sequels, bankable villains, and gory reveals. I give props to the filmmakers of Jaws 3-D — they didn’t operate under an illusion that they were making anything other than a castaway bank check. They figured, if you’re going to be a young sibling to a great star, you might as well do something different and to hell with the consequences!

This is probably what made Jaws 3-D more enjoyable that it has any right to be. The premise — that Jaws (or a family relation perhaps?) gets trapped inside of Sea World, chomping down merrily on the ticketed guests — defies any rational explanation. You simply have to see it to see how they could pull off something like that without dreaming up a shark that grew wings and could hop between the dolphin and killer whale pools.

Plus, there’s the 3-D gimmick, which is to horror movies as Tom Hanks is to romance films. Like any 3-D movie flattened down to the small screen, the 3-D elements are noticeable, fake, and are there to hijack any scene in which they appear. Pass on this.

In the film we meet Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid), the son of Martin Brody of Jaws fame. Quaid works for Sea World alongside his girlfriend (name: not going to bother), happy and blissful until a giant man-eating shark from his past decides to wriggle its way through the Sea World lagoon gates and into the main area. Said shark has stealth capability in that it’s able to hide its presence for almost two or three days without everyone working there really noticing. It can also swim in reverse and batter its way through construction projects like tissue paper.

On one hand, this movie is great free publicity for Sea World. On the other hand, its publicity comes in the form of “Come here and you’ll get your genitals bitten off by a giant man-eating shark!” I’m not sure the trade-off is worth it.

Watching this, I got the distinct feeling I’ve seen this before — in every teen horror movie from the ’80s. Really, you could just substitute “Sea World” for “summer camp” and “shark” with “Jason Vorhees,” and it wouldn’t be much different in tone or plot. It’s imperative in these types of horror movies that the deaths that do occur early on not be noticed by anyone until much, much later, for fear that every other movie character with common sense would evacuate the area and we’d be left staring at a wall for 45 minutes or so.

Note that this would be an improvement over many horror titles.

Eventually the kaka hits the spinning blades, and Jaws goes on a rampage. It’s during this last act of the film when I got the distinct impression I’ve seen this all before as well — and I have. Deep Blue Sea. I’m shocked that the makers of Jaws 3-D didn’t sue the DBS people for ripping off half of their film, for the similarities are striking. Both movies feature an underwater habitat and control room which comes under attack by an aggressive shark; both movies feature people getting into a pool with a supposedly tame shark only to find out it was playing possum; both movies have a boss who’s a slightly clueless yet charismatic black man; and so on.

I know this is a stupid flick, but I can’t help but give it a big ol’ toothy hug. Love ya, Jaws!

Sharks are playas. Word.


  • Poor fish head! It didn’t deserve it!
  • I’ve always wondered why, in the credits, do they sometimes list someone as “Also starring NAME as ‘CHARACTER NAME'”. Maybe it’s a way to give them a special place of honor while not being the star billing?
  • Remember when all of the teens in America used to make waterskiing pyramids on the weekend? So do I, son, so do I.
  • Sea World is run by a Nazi dominatrix
  • Why would they hold a press conference right next to new employee training?
  • Stand-Off! The game that’s sweeping the nation! Not!
  • Ahh! Leaping frogs! In 3-D!
  • It’s not the best thing to say “Hey, let’s go swimming!” in a Jaws flick.
  • The submersible tour. I just found it really silly with the voice-overs and 3-D.
  • Just a thought, but isn’t it kind of hard to talk into a radio while you’ve got some SCUBA gear filling up your entire mouth?
  • In the underwater escape scene, both the dolphins and the shark are obviously in sped-up motion (very jerky)
  • MST3K is so ingrained in me that when Dennis Quaid says, “Shove off”, I immediately said “No, YOU shove off!”
  • If you’re going to capture a Great White Shark, it’s best to do it at night. Um, why?
  • Sharks cannot swim backwards – but this one does.
  • When Jaws rams a gate, you can see the shark prop fold in on itself
  • One of Sea World’s greatest attractions: floating mangled corpses!
  • Jaws’ charge into the control room! Awesome!
  • Sure, lots of people died… but the dolphins are okay! Woo-hoo!
  • David Brown and Richard Zanuck, the producers for the first two films, originally pitched this idea as a spoof, named National Lampoon’s Jaws 3, People 0. As suggested by Matty Simmons and John Hughes it was an off the wall comedy about a movie studio trying to make Jaws 3. It opened with author Peter Benchley being eaten in his pool by a shark, a very naked movie starlet Bo Derek, shark costumed aliens, and all around National Lampoonacy. It also had director Joe Dante attached to it.
  • This film features the largest of the four Jaws sharks. The shark in Jaws 3-D was 35′, Whereas the previous and succeeding sharks in the other three films, measured at about 25′, while the shark in the novel is stated as being 20′. The full 35′ shark was never constructed. Instead, the head belonging to a shark “that would have been 35′” was all that was built. For wide shots of the shark it was the same 25′ shark body that had been used for the original film and the first sequel.
  • Although most scenes in this film were actually shot in Sea World, where the film takes place, some environments depicted in the film do not exist at the actual theme park.

Groovy Quotes

Kathryn: Overman was killed inside the park. The baby was caught inside the park. It’s mother is inside the park.

Charlene: You tell Shelby Overman for me he can take a flying leap in a rolling doughnut on a gravel driveway!

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Jaws
  • Jaws 2
  • Jaws The Revenge


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