The Jaws Rip-off Universal Got Removed From Theaters, Stream Right Now Without Netflix

By TeeJay Small | Published

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Shark attack films have become something of a staple in modern cinema, serving as a downsized kaiju threat against human sailors, divers, or beachgoers on the big screen. Steven Spielberg’s 1975 hit Jaws is largely responsible for the genre becoming the massive hit that it is today, with many films trying to copy the thriller’s major success. One such copycat, Great White, aka The Last Shark, was banned in the United States, despite serving as a rather competent entry into the shark attack pantheon, all things considered.

Great White

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Great White was initially made in 1981, as an attempt to bring the story of a killer shark to foreign markets. The Italian film, known interchangeably under the title The Last Shark, performed fairly well in European theaters, and even spent a brief amount of time gracing American screens before being officially banned by Universal Pictures. The film held a month-long theatrical run in the United States, netting roughly $18 million in that time, before a federal judge ruled that the plot was similar enough to Jaws to constitute plagiarism.

A Triumph Across The Pond

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Despite being banned from American screens, Great White/The Last Shark went on to be a solid success in both Italy and the UK, which has caused the movie to be something of a cult favorite to a certain demographic of moviegoers. In 2013, RetroVision Entertainment released a limited run of DVD prints, which included bonus features and a short documentary looking back on the making of the film 3 decades after production wrapped. Only 5,000 copies of the DVD were made, making the prints highly-sought after collector’s items to fans of cinema history.

A Famous Director

Great White/The Last Shark was directed by Italian filmmaker Enzo G. Castellari. While Castellari may not be a household name in the United States, the foreign director has helmed such projects as Escape From The Bronx, Taureg: The Desert Warrior, and The Inglorious Bastards, which inspired the title of Quentin Tarantino‘s 2009 film, sans intentional spelling errors. The shark attack movie stars James Franciscus, Vic Morrow, Micaela Pignatelli, Joshua Sinclair, Giancarlo Prete, and several others.

Great White Vs. Jaws

While it may seem like a dead-end endeavor to describe the plot synopsis of a film which stole much of its outline from Jaws, let’s dive into the details of Great White/The Last Shark anyway. The film centers on a horror author named Peter Benton, who teams with a professional shark hunter named Ron Hamer to expose the truth behind the death of a young wind-surfer. The pair have correctly surmised that a great white shark is responsible for killing the young man, though the local mayor refuses to accept the explanation as it would hinder tourism, and cause a frenzy.

Stream It Now

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The mayor can no longer obfuscate the truth once the shark returns, and eats the mayor’s aide in front of a ton of witnesses. With their suspicions confirmed, Benton and Hamer set sail to capture and kill the great white, suffering a number of setbacks along the way. The plagiarism of Jaws within Great White/The Last Shark is undeniable, though the film still offers a good time to those who enjoy horror thrillers of this variety. Today, the full movie can be watched on YouTube, or streamed with ads on Pluto TV or Tubi.