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Jaws of Death (1977)

PG | | Documentary, Adventure
A group of researchers attempt to communicate, film and swim with killer whales in picturesque Alert Bay.



(as William Allen Bairn), (original story)


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Credited cast:
Erich Hoyt ...
Expedition associate
Jim Hunter ...
Marine biologist
Stan Waterman ...
Expedition leader


A group of researchers attempt to communicate, film and swim with killer whales in picturesque Alert Bay.

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Sheer Terror!






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$180,000 (estimated)

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Boring as hell pseudo-documentary
20 October 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

JAWS OF DEATH is an obscure pseudo-documentary about a team of researchers and their hunt for killer whales, which they believe they can communicate with via their then top of the range sonar equipment. To make the film even more obscure, there was a (fictional) shark film released at the same time, called MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH, and the two titles appear to be readily confused. This one's definitely a documentary, though, or at least it purports to be.

And what a boring documentary this is. There's some merit in watching a dedicated team chasing after a difficult goal, but most of this equates to immense boredom on the part of the viewer. The guys are all hirsute, with awful facial hair and fashion, and their staged dialogue scenes are so wooden as to be embarrassing. Occasionally a ponderous narrator will pop up to impart some scientific knowledge, but it's all very dull.

Some viewers will question the ethics of the production. The divers seem fond of a huge octopus and deliberately spray an irritant into its lair in order to bring it out into the open where they can then wrestle with it. I felt sorry for the poor thing - it's the oceanic equivalent of being pepper sprayed, I guess. I called this a pseudo-documentary at the beginning of the viewer, because the climax - in which the characters stare in wonder at a handful of performing orcas - appears to have been staged in a Sealife centre or some such place. In other words, the wild killer whales have been substituted for tamed, trained ones. There are a few giveaways, like the way the close-up filming never reveals the background of these scenes, plus I have it on good account from the BLACKFISH documentary that the limp dorsal fin (as seen on the orcas here) is a sign of a captive rather than wild animal.

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