Fans of classic action films know the plot by heart: An angry 35-foot great white shark takes revenge on humans who frolic in the ocean waters of a coastal beach community. However, after several deadly attacks, the small town's mayor - fearing negative publicity would doom tourism - refuses to close the beach. It takes the mismatched pair of a headstrong writer and a crusty, shark-hating fisherman to hunt the killer beast.
I'm speaking of "The Last Shark," aka "Great White," shot on Tybee Island in 1981 by Italian exploitation icon Enzo G. Castellari, with help from assistant director (and our very own future ice cream icon) Stratton Leopold.
Why - what film did you think I was talking about?
"Jaws?" OK, fair enough.
That 1975 blockbuster was an amazing international success, made for less than $10 million and generating close to $500 million at the box office. In fact, it was the highest-grossing film of all time until "Star Wars" supplanted it two years later. That clout allowed distributor Universal Pictures to sue the small-time producers of "The Last Shark" into submission, banning any meaningful theatrical or home video release of the audacious knock-off.
In fact, to this day, it's hard to find even long-time locals who know an infamous killer shark movie starring "Planet of The Apes" star James Franciscus and Vic Morrow (of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" infamy) was made on Tybee. However, with each passing year, the fondness for "Jaws" grows.
Only the third theatrical feature directed by the gifted Steven Spielberg, it practically created the genre known as the "Summer Blockbuster."
So it's only fitting that SCAD's Cinema Circle should choose "Jaws" to kick off a four-film series they're calling the Summer of Spielberg ("E.T.," "Jurassic Park" and "Saving Private Ryan" follow through July).
It's not as if this beloved thriller hasn't been revived locally before. Heck, SCAD showed it for free in Forsyth Park a few years back.
But the historic environs of the former Weis Theatre, coupled with the college's state-of-the-art 4K digital projector means it will likely look and sound clearer at this Trustees Theater screening than it did on 35mm the day it opened 37 years ago. If you've never seen "Jaws," or perhaps only in edited-for-TV versions, you owe it to yourself to experience it the way its creator intended - uncensored and large enough to swallow you whole.
Plus, at only $8 admission, you can't go wrong with air conditioning, popcorn, candy and carnage, right? Showtime is 7 p.m. June 15, and it's probably not suitable for kids younger than 14.
Looking for something a little more light-hearted? The night before "Jaws," around the corner from Trustees, the Lucas Theatre presents one of the funniest films of the 1970s (or any other decade): "Monty Python and The Holy Grail." The inspiration for the Tony Award-winning musical "Spamalot," this 1974 piss-take on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table from famed absurdist British comedy troupe Monty Python is as revered as it is hysterical.
Co-directed by Python members Terry Gilliam ("Time Bandits," "Brazil," "12 Monkeys") and Terry Jones ("The Wind In The Willows"), it's a snarky, farcical, cheekily gory romp that has only improved with time, as its clever dialogue and impeccably timed delivery take the spotlight rather than the CGI and spectacle of today's needlessly slick comedies. They don't make 'em like this anymore, folks, and they likely never will again. Don't you dare miss it! $8 admission ($5 for students and seniors with ID), 7 p.m. showtime.
Finally, if the Pythons don't provide enough swordplay and dismemberment, on June 19, the Psychotronic Film Society presents a rare public viewing of an even more grisly classic of camp.
"Surviving Edged Weapons" is an unintentionally funny instructional video made in 1988 to train law enforcement officers on the best way to escape serious injury when faced with a switchblade, hatchet or other long, pointy weapon. While filled with useful information and sage advice on how to emerge victorious from a knife fight, the film also boasts several poorly staged and amateurishly acted "re-enactments" which one critic accurately described as resembling "a cross between 'Monty Python and The Holy Grail' and TV's 'Real Stories of The Highway Patrol.'"
Come prepared to laugh as well as hide your eyes a bit every now and then. $6 admission, 8 p.m. showtime at The Sentient Bean.
Thanks for supporting independent cinema in Savannah, and don't forget that folks who text during movies may have to face an edged weapon themselves!
Jim Reed directs the award-winning Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah - presenting indie, foreign, classic and cult cinema year-round. Read more from Jim on Savannah's film scene at filmsavannah.com.