Jaws (1975)

It’s never safe to go back in the water and most kids stayed very far away from the beach after this movie came out.

Stephen Spielberg crafts a terrifying tale from the novel by Peter Benchley about a great white shark hunting near a summer tourist island.

Not only is it one of the best summer horror/suspense movies, but also my favorite 4th of July flick.

As people start dying in the jaws of this large animal, the town sheriff (Roy Scheider) must do what’s necessary to save the town residents and the town’s reputation. With the help of an ocean scientist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a crusty shark hunter (Robert Shaw), the three set out on a fishing boat to hunt the shark before anyone else is killed.

The writing and acting are pretty good, but what really stands out is the menace of the aquatic beast which is largely unseen at first, due to problems with the mechanical sharks. I think if the shark had been more visible early on, it would have killed the build up of suspense. Combine the subtle creature encounters with John Williams’ riveting score (dun-duh dun-duh) and you’ve got a recipe for soiled undies.

After 40+ years, it looks and feels a bit dated, but the story and the characters hold up for yearly viewings.