Tag Archives: Jaws

A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Fang

Paul Fitzpatrick: Transylvania, May 1897

I remember the evening like it was 50 years ago…. an evening that would change my life….

My Dad had just brought home a film projector….
A slice of Hollywood was coming to our humble suburban abode and life, surely, would never be the same again.

I had visions of Mum serving up choc ices and Kia-ora as I sat on the family sofa with my chums watching all the new releases… Planet of the Apes, The Graduate, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid…. there would be a blockbuster every week.

Deveron Road was about to turn into Hollywood Boulevard… all we needed was a red carpet and a popcorn machine.

Setting the contraption up, my Dad explained that he’d got it from a friend who had kindly included a couple of reels of film to get us started.

The first reel was a home movie featuring the family who’d previously owned the projector, frolicking in the Clyde at Wemyss Bay where they lived.
Not exactly The Poseiden Adventure but we had to start somewhere and at least it helped us to get all the settings aligned.

We sat in eager anticipation as he set up the next reel and to give us a clue he mentioned that the upcoming feature was a ‘classic black & white movie’.

“Laurel & Hardy?” I suggested…. “It’s a Wonderful Life?” my Mum volunteered….

I’m sure I spotted a wee smirk on his face as he turned the lights off and pressed start.

The room and the screen were in complete darkness before the title appeared, accompanied by the eeriest church organ music known to man……

The opening title

WTF….

I repeat….

WTAF!!

There were to be no kind-hearted Angels earning their wings in this horrendous feature….
Nosferatu, was a terrifying German-Expressionist horror movie, made in 1922….. the first film ever in fact, to be based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel.

Nosferatu – Count Orlok

The protagonist, Count Orlok wasn’t your run of the mill, tall-dark & handsome gigolo of a vampire with slicked back hair either…. ala Christopher Lee or Vincent Price… he was the spookiest, creepiest, most chilling looking dude I’d ever laid eyes on in my young life.

I was transfixed with fear…. I didn’t want to watch it, but I wasn’t going upstairs to bed on my own either… lying there in the dark, listening to that horrific organ music, allowing my vivid imagination to run amok!

I always thought of myself as a pretty robust kid….
True, the Singing Ringing Tree (SRT) had given me a few sleepless nights when I was 7 or 8 but this was a whole new ball game…. the SRT was like Andy Pandy compared to this carnage!

I don’t recall getting much sleep that night.

In fact for what seemed like the next couple of years, I had a pathological and (admittedly) illogical fear of vampires.

Vampires were supposed to be a myth, but not to me… and I went to extreme lengths to protect myself from them… I wasn’t taking any chances.

I kept a bible on my bedside table.
I ‘borrowed’ a silver Cross from my Mum’s jewellery box, that I wore at night.
I ‘borrowed’ a little vassal of holy water from an Aunt which I kept under my pillow.
And the piece d’resistance…….
A wooden stake (carved then ‘borrowed’ from the school woodwork lab) kept under my bed, in case I had to go full Van Helsing on the Count’s ass.

I should also add that I tried my best to acquire some garlic but every time I added it to the weekly shopping list, I got the strangest looks.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I dreaded night time… daybreak just couldn’t come fast enough.

Looking back, I fully related to George Clooney’s character in the excellent From Dusk till Dawn when he said….

And I don’t want to hear anything about not believing in vampires.
Because I don’t f***ing believe in vampires!
But I believe in my own two eyes!
And what I saw is f***ing vampires!

(it’s funnier when he says it, watch clip below)

George Clooney Scene

If there was a Hammer House of Horror movie on, (and there seemed to be one every Friday night) I’d creep downstairs and covertly sit on the bottom step of the landing, to listen to it.
I knew I was tormenting myself, but at least I wasn’t upstairs on my own, thinking the worst.

My Dad, (a non-believer!) thought this was all a big joke so one Friday night when I’d been chased from the bottom step back up to my room, he thought that it would be a jolly jape to throw pebbles up at my bedroom window from the back garden.

Thinking, quite reasonably, that it was a Vampire (in the form of a bat) trying to get into my room I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs quicker than you could say “I have crossed oceans of time to find you“, only to find my Dad pissing himself laughing and my Mum chastising him…
you’ll give the poor lad a heart attack Joe!

Reflecting on my ‘wimpish past’… apart from the Singing Ringing Tree the only other thing that had given me the heebie- jeebies prior to this monstrosity of a movie was an episode of the ‘Alfred Hitchcock Hour’ called Final Escape, about John, a convicted bank robber.

Determined to escape his sentence, John befriends an inmate named Doc, who’s in charge of the prison infirmary.

They hatch a plan to hide John inside the coffin of the next inmate who dies.

The coffin will then be buried and dug up by Doc after the gravediggers and guards leave.

It all goes according to plan, until Doc fails to dig John up.
A terrified John learns why, when the shroud slips off the face of the corpse sharing the coffin with him: It’s Doc, who died of a heart attack the night before….Ahhhh!

I’m not sure when I ‘grew out’ of my Vampire phobia, I think it probably just got ‘trumped’ by The Exorcist which was much scarier and even more realistic.

I remember at the time you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without reading about some poor sod being possessed…. ‘an exorcism being performed in a town near you’…. or some other form of paranormal activity.

Fast forward a couple of years when the movie Jaws was breaking box office records and guess what? From nowhere, shark attacks started to be tabloid front page news with shocking regularity.
Great White seen at Helensburgh pier

Life imitating art or just a way to sell more papers?

Of course Vampires are uber cool now so no one’s stocking up on bibles, or wooden stakes anymore… instead, windows are left wide open and saucer’s of blood are left on the ledge to beckon the undead….

Yesterdays persona non grata has become today’s big poster boy.

Anyway, give me the old-school ghouls any day of the week, at least Count Orlok was a scary looking mo-fo… not like these pretty boys below!

you’re (not) gonna need a bigger quote.

(Post by George Cheyne of Glasgow – April 2021)

Ever sat and watched a new movie, heard a line of dialogue and said to yourself: Bet they’re still saying that in 40-50 years time.

Thought not. Well, you wouldn’t have much reason to, would you?

You’d be far more likely to be caught up with the visuals and plot when watching a film for the first time.

And yet, as the years roll by, there are certain quotes or phrases which become synonymous with movies. It’s as if they’re joined at the hip.

If I offer up: “Here’s looking at you, kid”…“I coulda been a contender”…“Bond. James Bond”…“I feel the need, the need for speed” and “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”, the chances are you’d be able to identify Casablanca (1942), On The Waterfront (1954), Dr No (1962), Top Gun (1986) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Two things about these examples. Firstly, there are no representatives from the 1970s – be patient, we’ll come to that – and there is nothing from the 21st Century.

That was deliberate on my part. I feel you have to let these things evolve over time, let them weave their way into the fabric of popular culture and then – and only then – will they be considered classic lines of film dialogue.

The 1970s wasn’t too shabby when it came to marrying up blockbuster movies with killer lines, so here’s my top 10 quotable quotes from that era:

“May the Force be with you.”

Star Wars (1977)

The line by Harrison Ford’s Han Solo character – in a conversation with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) – has inspired generations of kids wielding toy light-sabers ever since the film came out.

And it has been adopted by fans all over the world who celebrate May the fourth as their official Star Wars day.

“You talkin’ to me?”

Taxi Driver (1976)

No matter how many times you’ve seen the clip, it still has the ability to send a chill down your spine as Travis Bickle – played by Robert de Niro – talks to himself in the mirror.

He’s rehearsing for a big confrontation and the iconic scene leaves you in no doubt just what he’s capable of.

“I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

This was a groundbreaking movie of the time and it gave us a groundbreaking performance by Jack Nicholson as asylum inmate Randle P McMurphy.

His memorable one-liner comes near the end when he’s planning a boozy last hurrah for everyone before making his escape from the institution.

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Apocalypse Now (1979)

There’s no getting away from this quote from Robert Duvall’s Vietnam War officer – it’s been ingrained in the public’s psyche for 40-odd years.

The full 12-inch disco remix version goes like this: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed for 12 hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill…smelled like victory.”

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Jaws (1975)

Roy Schneider delivers the line after his Chief Brody character gets up close and personal with the giant shark for the first time.

Movie fact: The phrase you still hear over and over again to this day was an ad-lib from Schneider as part of a production crew in-joke.

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

The Godfather (1972)

Despite the cotton wool filling his cheeks, Marlon Brando manages to sound calm and menacing at the same time when he says this.

It’s Don Corleone assuring godson Johnny Fontane he will win the race to land a part in a big Hollywood movie. And he does win it..by a horse’s head!

“Toga, toga!”

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

More of a chant than a phrase, but it’s still one of the endearing moments from the movie depicting the ups and downs of the Deltas fraternity house.

John Belushi – as manic Bluto – starts it off to lift the spirits of his frat brothers and it turns into a full-blown raucous drink-fuelled bash. Paaaarty!

“You gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya…punk?”

Dirty Harry (1971)

This one comes after Clint Eastwood’s edgy cop corners the baddie at a disused quarry – and you just know the showdown can only end one way.

Tough-talking Clint gives him the spiel about how he can’t remember if he’s fired five shots or six, allowing his crazed perp the chance to go for his gun…and, well, I’m sure you can guess the rest.

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”

Network (1976)

When newscasters go off script with a rant like this, they have the ability to make the news themselves.

Peter Finch’s Howard Beale character, resplendent in trench coat and striped pyjamas, is at the centre of the outburst when he urges his viewers to rise up and howl at the moon.

“What have the Romans ever done for us?”

Life of Brian (1979)

The Monty Python crew nailed it with this scene when John Cleese’s leader of the People’s Front of Judea tries to whip up some agitation against the Romans.

By the time he’s finished, his watered-down diatribe becomes: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health..what have the Romans ever done for us?” Genius!

So what have the screenwriters ever done for us? Well, for a start, these unsung heroes of the movie business have given us a legacy that will last forever.

And in doing so they have debunked the myth that a picture is worth a thousand words. Turns out all you need is a handful of well-crafted memorable ones.