Jaws of Satan (1981)

Article 4598 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-4-2014
Directed by Bob Claver
Featuring Fritz Weaver, Gretchen Corbett, Jon Korkes
Country: USA
What it is: A mess

A druid curse results in Satan taking the form of a giant cobra with the intent on killing a priest who is descended from an ancient enemy. When other people are also killed, doctors try to investigate while authorities try to hush it up for fear it will interfere with the opening of a new dog track.

This movie attempts to be a rip-off of JAWS, a “nature on the loose” animal attack flick, and an “ancient curse coming down on the offspring” movie all at one time, with a few touches of THE OMEN and THE EXORCIST thrown into the mix. If this sounds like an awkward and unwieldy mix of fantastic subgenres in theory, it’s even worse in practice. Part of the problem is that the types of horror involved are incompatible; the ancient curse premise implies a specific individual is to be tied to the horror, but the other premises imply that the horror would strike anyone. The movie makes no sense because it never even tries to resolve this contradiction; it tries to have it both ways. It’s almost painful watching how badly this movie tries to tie in the government cover-up/dog track subplot with the main story, and you know the only reason the movie is doing this is to make the story more similar to JAWS; a good screenwriter wouldn’t have strained himself to work it out, but would have dropped the subplot altogether. The movie is badly edited (there are moments where it’s impossible to tell just what happened), has unnecessary scenes (such as the attempted rape), and is just not scary. There are worse movies out there, but not very many that are even more ill-conceived than this one.

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