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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Telefilm > Documentary > Science > Oceans > Sealife > Shark Swarm (Genius DVD) + Blue Water, White Death (1971/MGM DVD)

Shark Swarm (Genius DVD) + Blue Water, White Death (1971/MGM DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D/B-     Film: C-/B-



Because the shadow of Steven Spielberg’s hit film of Peter Benchley’s Jaws remains with us many decades after it first surfaced in 1975, sharks have gone from being a big threat to becoming a shockingly endangered species, as Rob Stewart’s impressive documentary Sharkwater (reviewed elsewhere on this site) recently proved, so anytime I see any other releases on the subject, they seem dated or just plain bad.


The silly RHI-produced Shark Swarm (2007) could have been an alternate idea for Jaws 4 as a group of great whites are on the loose and only John Schneider, Daryl Hannah and Heather McComb (of Party Of Five) can stop them, but they’ll also have to take on a bad guy played by Armand Assante and you may laugh as much as anything.  Only because this is unintentionally amusing in small parts, it is not a total disaster, even throwing in F. Murray Abraham.  It is part of the RHI/Genius Maneater Series, but most of the releases have actually been worse!


The Peter R. Gimbel/James Lipscomb documentary Blue Water, White Death was released in 1971, four years before the Spielberg hit and tries to show us all about the Great White in the most scientific terms.  With no crisis yet set in, the sharks come across as dangerous, which they are, but without the exaggeration we would soon be inundated with.  At times, the terrific production tries to emulate the biggest of all James Bond films, Thunderball, still the top ticket-seller up to & including the Daniel Craig Casino Royale.  However, it is not fixated on that or any other film, including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, reviewed elsewhere on this site) which many water-bound films also tried to emulate.


Instead, it is one of the best feature film documentaries about science, nature and the oceans ever shot, even if it has dated slightly in parts.  Gimbel is an heir to the now-former department store chain and this was a labor of love project for him.  The results are enduring and make for an engrossing 99 minutes.  Filmmaking people will also love what he accomplished here and it is strongly recommended.


The anamorphically enhanced image on both discs are dead even, with Swarm (at 1.78 x 1) being a recent digital production of no distinction with detail and depth limits, plus nothing visually memorable.  If anything, it is even sillier than usual, even for RHI.  Water (2.35 X 1) was shot in Techniscope and looks very good for its age, though the print is a little troubled in spots and color is good, but is Technicolor.  This was likely issued in three-strip Technicolor and this copy often demonstrates that.  Swarm has no extras, while Water has a great making of featurette and an outstanding audio commentary track by the makers of the film including Valerie May Taylor, Rodney Fox, Ron Taylor & Stan Waterman, without Gimbel though, who sadly passed away in 1987 from cancer.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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