Gilbert Speaks on Shudder’s ‘Sharksploitation’

I love sharks, and I love films about sharks. Luckily for us, director-producer Stephen Scarlata has produced an amazing documentary about sharks, and the impact that Jaws had on the film industry.


Sharks are amazing creatures. They are the apex predators of the oceans. They can replace thousands of teeth in their lifetimes. They play a vital role in the health of marine ecosystems. Most sharks are cold -blooded, but the great white sharks are partially warm-blooded which allows them to move faster than their prey. Sharks have a sixth sense. The ampullae of Lorenzini is found on shark snouts and can sense electric fields emitted by animals in the surrounding water. Sharks have been around for over 400 million years, long before dinosaurs.

You can see why I love sharks, but from a safe distance. The documentary Sharksploitation features many marine biologists, film directors, and even a hard-to-get interview with marine and environmental conservation advocate, Wendy Benchley. Wendy was the wife of author Peter Benchley, the man who wrote Jaws. What Benchley achieved with his best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg perfected. Jaws was the first major motion picture to be shot on the ocean. Interestingly enough, it is due to mechanical problems that the scenes where the great white shark showed itself were limited, thus causing a bigger fright reaction. Jaws was the blockbuster summer film of 1975, which led to other film companies jumping onto the bandwagon.

Jaws opened up the door to sequels, and films like Sharktopus, Sharknado, and even something like Cocaine Shark, which is due out this summer on DVD and VOD. If Cocaine Shark is as funny as Cocaine Bear, I am freaking watching it.


The Sharksploitation documentary is absolutely fascinating; it features interviews with Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Carl Gottlieb, and Mario Van Pebbles. The ocean is a mystery. We know more about Mars than we do about our oceans and the animals who call the seas their home. I don’t think kids today realize how scary Jaws was back in the day, but it was and always will be the Golden Chalice of shark films.

The first time that I saw Jaws was at a drive-in-theatre in 1975. I went with my brother and my daughter, who was seven at the time. I don’t know what I expected, but my daughter refused to take a bath or use the toilet unless I was with her. It took weeks before she felt confident enough that a shark wasn’t going to pop up from the drain or the toilet. Even today, as a grown woman with grandchildren of her own, my daughter will not go beyond knee deep at the beach in Wildwood.

Sharks are amazing creatures who have survived from ancient times. Their blood might help us cure some diseases. Their ability to heal is being studied by the medical profession. Sharksploitation is a reminder that we share this planet with other species that deserve our respect and protection. You can watch Sharksploitation on Shudder.

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