Baby Sharks, Dolphin Sidekicks, and SeaWorld: Is Jaws 3-D (1983) Worth It?

This is part of the BONUS edition of the Horrorathon for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO).

Jaws 3-D is the only Jaws sequel I knew anything about because as a kid it was super cool to me it took place at SeaWorld (it was before Blackfish!). I remembered the shark swimming outside the underwater tunnels…and that was basically it.

Let’s find out how Jaws the 3rd got from Amity Island to Florida.

Recap:

The movie begins with a floating fish head that looks like it is about to sing a Big Mouth BIlly Bass number before the 3D title card comes floating at us.

It was a different time back then

Next we get some very fit synchronized water skiers practicing their moves.

They are cheered on by Calvin Bouchard aka our new Mayor Vaughn, an entrepreneur determined to open their new SeaWorld location no matter what kind of wrinkles may come up. He’s very excited to welcome Philip FitzRoyce, a wildlife hunter and photographer.

Philip (left) and Calvin (right).

Our protagonist is a now grownup Mike Brody, played by a young Dennis Quaid. He is a supervisor at the new SeaWorld and is also dating one of their animal experts Kay Morgan. And for no other purpose than linking this movie to the previous films, his younger brother Sean is visiting him. Sean mainly exists in this movie to help allude to the previous films and then promptly disappear till the third act.

And inexplicably wear a cowboy outfit. From left to right: Sean, Kay, and Mike

After Mike is informed the gate separating the man made SeaWorld lagoon and the ocean is malfunctioning, he instructs an employee to stay late and fix the gate. The gate gets secured but it does not end well for the employee because a shark has already gatecrashed the new SeaWorld lagoon.

Mike, Sean, and Kay go out to a bar where Sean meets one of the water skiers named Kelly. Later, Mike and Kay go for a long walk on a dark beach that is presumable meant to be at night but the lighting is really off.

This is all I could hear during this moment

Mike mentions that Sean hates the water because of “that shark attack he told her about.” He also tells her he has a job offer in Venezuela so their long walks on bizarrely lit beaches may soon be coming to an end.

Meanwhile, Sean and Kelly are hanging out in the SeaWorld lagoon for some afterhours attractions, where she makes promises of helping Sean overcome childhood trauma with just the power of love instead of something way more effective like therapy.

Meanwhile, two thieves sneak their way into the SeaWorld lagoon to steal…coral.

The two thieves are killed off screen and Jaws the 3rd conveniently destroys the evidence by destroying the inflatable boat.

The next day, Mike and Kay realize their colleague is missing and search the lagoon in a submarine that definitely doesn’t look like a tiny toy sub:

It was at this point I knew I loved this movie

We also meet their underwater skeleton who juts his lil hand out like a woman bashfully showing off an engagement ring:

Resident dolphins Cindy and Sandy try to warn the humans they are in danger, but they don’t speak dolphin so they ignore their warnings.

Jaws the 3rd attacks Mike & Kay and they ride away from danger on the dolphins.

They immediately tell Calvin, and then proceed to have bizarre conversation with him and Philip FitzRoyce where Philip suggests they kill the shark in front of an audience which needless to say feels extremely inappropriate for multiple reasons. Kay insists they should actually keep the shark in captivity, prompting Mike to yell that “great whites are murderers!” before dramatically storming away. Calvin is down for whichever option results in the most money so he opts capturing the shark.

The location opens to the public the next day, and a whale mascot seemingly kidnaps children to bring them to the underwater observation area.

Sean randomly appears in the movie again, and him and Kelly gallivant in the bumper boats.

That’s exactly the look of pure bliss you expect from new lovers. Maybe he just misses his peacocking cowboy outfit

Kay is horrified to realize that Calvin ordered Jaws the 3rd to be displayed, resulting in the shark dying in a shallow pool in front of the guests because it was traumatized.

But just to spread the trauma around a little bit, the guests in the underground kingdom see a dead body floating in the water.

Kay realizes the bite radius is much too large to be from the shark they had in captivity – leading her to realize that the baby shark’s (doo doo doo doo doo doo) momma shark is still in the lagoon ready to go Pamela Voorhees on them for drowning her son due to their gross negligence. And to think the alleged shark expert in Jaws 2 said sharks don’t take things personally!

The main characters frantically run to try and close down the park. Bouchard pages the underwater kingdom and asks that the guests still down there calmly follow their guides because the attraction needs to be closed down.

Momma Shark bumps one of the underwater tunnels and in order to keep the tunnels properly pressurized the exits automatically close, effectively trapping the guests inside. But don’t worry, because the calmest tour guide in the world is there to help:

Someone give this woman a raise because you know damn well this is above her pay grade.

Mike and the other employees begin working on a way to rescue the guests while the public relations team gives a press conference. It seems like there would be more emergency services involved in these situations but okay SeaWorld.

Philip and his Alfred-like assistant Jack declare they are going to hunt down Momma Shark so SeaWorld can release the trapped guests. Philip is quickly swallowed by the shark, and Jack goes down to look for him.

The shark attacks Mike while he welds the underwater tunnel, but he manages to complete the work and the guests are able to escape. But the shark isn’t done with Mike and Kay yet, because it attacks the underwater control center in a moment so utterly ridiculous it needs to be seen to be believed:

The filmmakers made so many choices with this moment.

In a moment only slightly more ridiculous than the climax of the previous two films, Kay and Mike see that Momma Shark still has a perfectly intact grenade in Philip’s perfectly intact hand in her mouth, communicate this to one another with gestures under water, and manage to pull the pin using a long hook.

I knew in my heart someone had already made this into a gif, and was not disappointed.

Mike and Kay surface, and remember the dolphins Cindy and Sandy were in the lagoon this whole time with the sharks! Kay calls for the dolphins, and we are treated to one last incredibly bad freeze frame so bizarrely stupid yet triumphant it perfects encapsulates the awesomely bad vibe of this whole movie.

Random Notes/Analysis:

  • Probably the most amazing thing I learned about this film was it was originally conceived as a self-parody titled Jaws 3, People 0. The one that got away…
  • Likewise, some of the terrible effects including the infamous glass breaking scene had better versions that were ultimately cut because the producer didn’t like the low resolutions according to this article.
Big mistake! Big! Huge!
  • This movie is far more B-grade than the original, but has a clever conceit and serves as a proto-Jurassic World with scenes of panicked havoc in the park.
  • Also the fun “two killers” reveal of there being two sharks! Watch out Scream
  • I love how much this movie loves the dolphins Cindy and Sandy – any Jaws 3-D drinking game worth its snuff would include anytime Cindy and Sandy are summoned or seen in unison
  • I appreciate the characters having some nuance in this movie despite the decidedly more cheesy vibe. Philip’s assistant Jack begins crying when he realizes Philip didn’t make it which was a really great character moment. The movie has the occasional scene where each character, even Philip and Bouchard, are shown to not be totally morally bankrupt.
  • Speaking of Bouchard, I love that he just grabs one of the underwater technicians to save her when the Momma Shark attacks the control center and literally just swims out the movie after rescuing one of his employees.
  • Likewise, I love that Philip talks so much crap about killing sharks and is immediately eaten when trying to kill the shark despite bringing the previously-banned grenade for protection

Is It Worth It?

Absolutely yes. Listen – I know on paper, film, and every other medium, Jaws 2 is objectively the superior film to this one. But it also tries to copy the original a little too closely for my liking. It really doesn’t add anything to it. This is a cheesy disgrace compared to the original Jaws, but it is damn entertaining in the process. If this had just been titled Shark Attack 3D! or something like that, I think it would be just another cheesy 80s movie people bring up during discussions of enjoyable deep cuts. Jaws at SeaWorld is the kind of instantly viable movie pitch I appreciate.

Next post, we get personal and Christmassy with Jaws IV: The Revenge!

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