• Cruel Jaws (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: September 29th, 2020.
    Director: Bruno Mattei (as William Snyder)
    Cast: Gregg Hood, Norma J. Nesheim, David Luther, George Barnes Jr., Scott Silveria, Kirsten Urso, Richard Dew
    Year: 1995
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    Cruel Jaws – Movie Review:

    No stranger to knock offs and cash-ins, Bruno Mattei’s 1995 picture Cruel Jaws (literally released in some territories as Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws!) takes place in the south of the great state of Florida. Here two scuba divers, Paco and Jose, are gobbled up while on a mission to save some important Navy documents, their captain proving no match for the shark either. There’s a big shark on the loose, got it?

    From here, we meet Vanessa (Norma J. Nesheim) and nautical researcher Billy (Gregg Hood), a pair of Winnebago warriors out for a trip to their hometown in Florida for some well-deserved reset and relaxation. The first order of the day is to hit up the local water park where seals and dolphins put on charming shows for the crows. Here the pair catches up with old friends, Bobby (Scott Silveria), wheelchair-riding Susy (Kirsten Urso), their father Dag (Richard Dew, who was apparently a Hulk Hogan impersonator when not acting in Bruno Mattei films!). Unfortunately, the place has fallen on hard times and Sheriff Berger (David Luther) has, like it or not, been tasked with giving them an eviction notice.

    When the corpse of one of the victims from the opening scene washes up on a nearby beach, Billy goes into ocean expert mode and requests an autopsy be performed. Of course, it is determined that the victim in question was killed by a shark, and wouldn’t you know it but tourist season, which is the lifeblood of the local community, is just about to get underway! As some local mobsters try to move in on the water park and take it over for themselves, Billy and the rest not only have to figure out how to stop a very hungry shark, but also uncover the truth about its origins…

    Mattie (credited under the pseudonym of William Snyder!), directs with his usual disregard for coherence and logic. Borrowing liberally from Joe D'Amato's Deep Blood and Enzo G. Castellari's The Last Shark as well as some of the Jaws films themselves, this picture takes copyright infringement to a whole new level of absurdity and for a certain breed of cult movie fan, that’s a very good thing indeed. While the film has little to offer in terms of originality, Mattei does manage to pile in a few of those wonderfully WTF moments that make his best films as enjoyable as they are. On top of that, you can’t help but respect the film’s audaciousness and its director’s dedication to doing things on the fast and cheap (as you watch this movie, have fun trying to convince yourself that Mattei did more than one take for any of these scenes, because he’s left in some more than questionable line deliveries!).

    The performances are uniformly bad, the effects either stolen or cheaply done and parts of the score will sound very familiar to John Williams fans but Cruel Jaws is, either because of or in spite of these reasons, a really fun way to kill an hour and a half and a few brain cells at the same time.

    Severin offers up two versions of the movie on this Blu-ray release, the original Mattei version touted as the Home Video Version (1:34:21) and the slightly longer alternate version dubbed 'The Snyder Cut' (1:36:15), which incorporates a bit of extended footage that was included in the Japanese version of the movie and is a bit more violent for that reason.

    Cruel Jaws – Blu-ray Review:

    Both cuts of the film are presented on a 50GB disc, the longer version getting 22GBs of space the shorter version 21.7GBs of space and, interestingly enough, there are some noticeable differences. Both are framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and presented in 1080p high definition, but the original Home Video Versions has much better and more accurate color reproduction than the extended cut, which, while watchable enough and not horrible looking at all, does feature weaker contrast and a bit of crush. There are also some slight but noticeable framing differences between the two cuts, with the Home Video Version showing noticeably stronger depth and detail as well as a bit more room at the top and the right side of the frame. Screen caps from both versions are included below. Neither version shows any problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement but there are moments where both transfers struggle with compression (this is most obvious during underwater sequences).

    24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo English audio is provided for each version, optional English subtitles are included. Both versions sound fine, with properly balanced audio and no real problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about.

    Extras start off with The Great White Way - A Study In Sharksploitation with Rebekah McKendry, which is a twenty-one-minute featurette that goes into the history of pictures that hoped to cash in on the massive success of Jaws, be they pictures literally about sharks or pictures that use the same them, Piranha being a pretty good example. It’s an interesting and very well-researched talk that does a really nice job of succinctly summing up the genre’s history and appeal.

    Up next is a piece entitled These Things Got Made!, which is an interview with Actor Jay Colligan that runs for twelve-minutes. Here he speaks about how he wound up being cast in the movie, what it was like on set, working with the other cast and crew members on the shoot, his thoughts on Mattei and his feelings about the film overall. Interesting stuff, and quite a fun watch.

    Rounding out the extras is a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    Cruel Jaws – The Final Word:

    Cruel Jaws just might be Mattei’s most blatant rip off (and that’s saying something!) but nevertheless it’s an entertaining piece of wonky trash that’ll easily appeal to the sensibilities of those who appreciate the director’s output. It’s also seriously goofy.

    Click on the images below for full sized Cruel Jaws Snyder Cut Blu-ray screen caps!

    Click on the images below for full sized Cruel Jaws Home Video Version Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. davek's Avatar
      davek -
      Perhaps the best film Hulk Hogan ever starred in😂

      I’ve been wanting to see this for years!! Found it on YouTube a couple of years back. Fun movie. I’ll be picking this up for sure. Though waiting for a price drop. As fun a movie it is, 30+ is a little too much for this one
    1. seanmitus's Avatar
      seanmitus -
      Now if The Last Shark (L'ultimo squalo) aka Great White can get a decent release we can watch the same scenes twice! Spoken as a proud owner of the Cruel Jaws blu and novelization.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      This is such a fun film. I need to order this BD asap...
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Saw Severin quoted you on their page, nice work!