Retro-review: New this week in a double festure DVD from MVD Visual & RetroVision Entertainment LLC!
NIGHT OF THE SHARKS (1988)
aka JAWS ATTACK, SHARK!
Directed by Tonino Ricci (as Anthony Richmond)
Written by Tito Carpi, Tonino Ricci
Starring Treat Williams, Janet Agren, Antonio Fargas, Stelio Candelli, Egidio Termine, Nina Soldano, Sal Borgese, Carlo Mucari, John Steiner, Christopher Connelly, Marjorie Manushaw
By 1988, we learned in JAWS: THE REVENGE that sharks hold grudges, as goofy as that sounds. So why not build an entire film on a grudge between a scurvy boatman and a grumpy, one-eyed tiger shark named appropriately Cyclops? That’s basically what Italian made cheapie NIGHT OF THE SHARKS is all about.
Treat Williams plays the boatman David Ziegler who has a beef with a shark that lingers around his cabana on the beach. The plot of the film involves some crooked politicians that David’s brother has some dirt on. When David’s brother is killed, he gets all Ramboey and seeks to take down his killers. Meanwhile, the feud between David and Cyclops escalates to a final confrontation in the Dominican Republic waters.
After a really tepidly directed opening where a diver is attacked by the one eyed shark and rescued by Treat, the film kind of picks up and director Tonino Ricci is actually able to pull off some fun little Treat v. shark sequences including one where that wascally shark tries to steal Treat’s boat. This film uses real shark footage coupled with some fake shark head props used for closeups and ramming the side of boats. All of this is filmed rather convincingly, despite the obvious low budget. The film plays out as a revenge flick slash man on the run thriller where the locale and stubbornness of the shark who seems to be there any time Treat gets in the water the only reason why this film falls in the killer shark subgenre.
Treat is his usually affable self throughout the film and while he has achieved a cult status, it really is a surprise to me he didn’t become a bigger name in Hollywood as he exudes a type of charisma and humor that makes a good leading man. Maybe he just had a bad agent. I don’t know, but he really does have a fallible hero quality that few are able to pull off. Despite the low budget and uninspired script, that character than is undeniably Treat, shines through here. It’s also fun to see Antonio Fargas play Treat’s sidekick and beach buddy as his Paco character adds some humor and flavor to the film.
A pair of interesting tidbits about NIGHT OF THE SHARKS—all of the shark stuff is filmed during the day and there really only seems to be one particularly vengeful shark terrorizing the waters. This film is undeniably from the 80’s with a boppy synth score, sunglass wearing tuffs, and open shirted beach bums as the lead. That said, the attacks are fun and somewhat intense, Treat is, as always a treat, and NIGHT OF THE SHARKS proves to be a brainless, but fun little killer shark time-waster.