24 Feb 2015


Films have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  Are the slasher film rules true?

Jaws (1975) is an animal attack horror film.  Probably the ultimate animal attack horror (possibly The Birds rivals it).

The following may include spoilers for

Jaws (1975)

Rule #1

There Will Be A Warning...

No warning for the first victim.
The death of the first victim lead the Police Chief to want to put up signs and close the beaches.  The Mayor convinces him not to, and their back and forth and the capture of the wrong shark on the issue causes most of the deaths.  Pretty typical of the warnings in slasher films.

Rule #2
There Will Be T&A

Chrissie Watkins, the first victim was famously a heavily silhouetted  skinny dipper.  You may be able to see boob as she's thrashing around in the water getting eating by a shark, but it is brief and hardly an erotic moment.  This is very low for a horror film.  It is also fairly coy.  Then again the film got a PG even with the blood and gore, I guess nudity would have caused it problems.  However, she does appear on the poster, so go figure.

Rule #3

Death Will Be A Punishment For...

... going into the water.  But really, I'm pretty sure the shark has no moral agenda.

B:  NUDITY - Chrissie Watkins (as noted above).
C:  DRINKING - There was a keg at the party, but no sign Chrissie was drinking (all the others survived.)  Brody, his wife and Hooper drink.  Quint was a drinker, making his own alcohol and asking for a case of apricot brandy as part of his payment.  Of all of them only Quint died.  But he was the heaviest drinker.
D:  DRUGS - A joint was being passed around the party at the beginning, once again,Chrissie was sitting way from the group so there was no sign that she partook.
G:  BEING AN ANNOYING/BEING A COWARD/BEING A SLEEZY GUY - Ben Gardner is one of many gung-ho fishermen who go after the shark.  Although technically not annoying, cowardly or sleezy, the fishermen were generally portrayed as greedy and stupid so I'm counting him here (although he was dismissed the abilities of the other fishermen.)
H:  BYSTANDERS - Alex M Kintner,  just a kid swimming with a bunch of other holiday makers.  The guy killed in "the pond" estuary was also a bystander.  

Rule #4
Never Go...
... into the water.  Let's be honest here none of these are really going to count because sharks aren't renown for chasing people upstairs or into the forest.

C:  FOR A SHOWER - Skinny dipping is the closest (see topless swimmer above) although not usually counted in this section.
F:  ANYWHERE ALONE - Chrissie and Ben were alone, but the rest of the victims were with other people.
G: ANYWHERE REMOTE - The second half of the film is set on a boat a long way from land.

Rule #5
Order of Death

Lots of people appear before the first victim.
Not about a bunch of teens.  A large and varied cast but sort of still fits.

A:  THE FIRST PERSON ON SCREEN - A whole bunch of party goers are show before Chrissie who is sitting alone outside the circle around the fire.  Close but... (Fail).
B:  THE BLACK MAN DIES FIRST - No minorities in the film.  (NA)
D:  THE BIMBO - Unnamed swimmer, swims topless to get a guy's attention.  Dies First (Fail).
F:  MACHO JERK -  Not the traditional Macho Jerk from Slasher Films, but Ben Gardner counts  (Pass)
H:  THE PROTECTOR - The closest thing the film has is Quint.  Last killed.  (Pass)
I:  THE SENSITIVE GUY - Hooper comes close.  He even has the disappearing presumed dead only to reappear after the killer is killed thing that some of them have going for them.  Survives.  (Pass)
J:  ANIMALS & CHILDREN - Alex, the second human victim was a young boy.  He was killed immediately after Pippet the dog goes missing.  Brody's son, however does survive.  Dies early  (Fail).
K:  THE FINAL GIRLBrody, not a girl, but he has a lot of the features. (Pass)

Order of Death:

1.  Chrissie Watkins [D]
X.  Pippet the dog.  [J]
2.  Alex M Kitner [J]
3.  Ben Gardner [F]
4.  Estuary Victim [?]
5.  Quint [H]

Rule #6Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

A:  COMMUNICATIONS - The ability of the Orca crew to call for help was somewhat inhibited by Quint smashing the radio.
C:  VEHICULAR TRANSPORT - Turns out they needed a bigger boat.  .
E:  THE AUTHORITIES – Brody is the local Police Chief, however his hands are tied by the local Mayor..
G:  ESCAPE ROUTES - The boat ends up broken down and destroyed..

Rule #7
The Final Girl

Police Chief Brody.

A:  FINAL - Yes.
B:  GIRL - No.
C:  MASCULINE - Quite.
D:  WELL DRAWN - Hooper, Quint and Brody all have back stories and fears they must face.
E:  VIRGINAL & INNOCENT - Married and has a child.  Most likely being married gets him out of needing to be a virgin or maybe guys don't need to be.
F:  WILL BE REBORN - He faces, and seems to get over, his fear of the water and kills the shark.

Rule #8 

The Killer has a connection to...

A giant shark.

A:  LOCATION - Hooper and Brody discuss the theory of territoriality that a rogue shark will remain in the area until the food source runs out.
C:  PROTECTOR - Not this specific shark, no.
D:  OTHER VICTIMS - No known connection.
E:  FEMININITY - Not really.
F:  SPECIFIC LOOK - It looks like a shark.
G: WEAPON - Bite, really.  Duh.

Rule #9

Evil Never Dies...

A:  ALWAYS KILL THE BAD GUY TWICE - Unless you count the Tiger Shark caught early in the film, no.

Rule #10
The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

The first in in the series, so no details here.  In case later films are tested, here's an info dump.

C:  THERE WILL BE MORE T&A - One naked but difficult to see naked woman.
D:  MORE AND BIGGER DEATHS - There are 5 human deaths, many of them bloody.


The film was the first blockbuster and favourably compared to Hitchcock.  Perhaps the fact that it's such a good film makes it a bad example of a slasher film.

The following rules were followed:  1, 3.
The following rules were partially followed:  2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
The following rules were not followed:  9, 10.


  • Like most slasher film killers, the shark in Jaws gets POV or fake POV shots.
  • Unlike a slasher film the film isn't over  a short period (a night or weekend).  

~ DUG.