Directed By: Jeannot Szwarc
Starring: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Tag line: "Coming sooner than you think"
Trivia: The picture was the all time highest-grossing sequel ever in history until Rocky II was released the following year in 1979
When I covered 1977’s Rollercoaster, I mentioned how that movie played as the second bill of a double feature, which my family and I caught at our local drive-in back in 1978. Well, the main feature that night was Jaws 2, and seeing as I was around 8 or so at the time, I found the movie positively terrifying.
Several years have passed since Amity Island was terrorized by a great white, leaving Chief Brody (Roy Schieder) with nothing to do but deal with the occasional neighborhood conflict and attend government-sponsored functions. That all changes when the carcass of a killer whale, with some pretty big bites taken out of it, washes up on shore. Fearing a repeat of what happened last time, Brody tells Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and local official Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo) that he believes another shark has moved into the area. Naturally, the Mayor and the town council refuse to listen to him, and even go so far as to fire Brody when he causes a panic on the beach, mistaking a school of bluefish for a great white. But when a group of teens, including Brody’s sons Mike (Mark Gruner) and Sean (Marc Gilpin), is attacked while out sailing, the former Chief, aided by his wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary), must move quickly to save them before they all become the shark’s next meal.
It’s entirely possible that nostalgia plays a key role in my enjoyment of Jaws 2 (it was, after all, the first film I ever saw at a drive-in), but I think there’s more to it than that. For one, the movie features yet another fine performance by Roy Schieder, who brings the same amount of gusto to the role of Chief Brody that he did in the original (Hoping it’ll give him an advantage over the creature, Brody even goes so far as to fill the tips of his bullets with cyanide). What’s more, the film's various shark attacks keep us poised on the edge of our seats (especially later on, when it’s hounding Brody’s sons and their friends), and there are some frightening moments to boot (the scene where Brody inspects debris that washed up on shore, only to make a grisly discovery, scared the living shit out of me in 1978, and continues to be effective to this day).
Even if it does get a bit far-fetched at times (like the now-famous, and admittedly entertaining, helicopter sequence), Jaws 2 is an action-packed, tension-filled sequel, and I had fun watching it again.