Skip navigation


It’s odd about film fright. People want to be frightened by – more or less – precisely what frightened them before, a fact which goes a good way to explaining the popularity of Salvatore Moscowitz, whose cheap, shameless derivations make one long for the wit and imagination of William Castle. Audiences have come to expect the expected from Moscowitz and Moscowitz has been more than happy to count the receipts that pile up from giving it to them.

This Hell Shark is a different beast. The standard Moscowitz rip-off crudely apes whatever was last fall’s big hit. But this curious picture is an improbable smash-up between Jaws and Smokey And The Bandit. One struggles to think of a more inappropriate pairing. It is as if Moscowitz simply tried to stretch his thin budgets far past the breaking point, getting two rip-offs for the price of one without regard to whether the sources fit together in any manner whatsoever. Worse, Hell Shark is overlain with a truly bizarre Indian mysticism that occasionally threatens to make it seem as if the movie has some arcane point to make about Manifest Destiny. You have to stop and ask yourself: “Who is this movie for?”

…Lee Lambert directs with his usual flair for tone and atmosphere. He shows a real fluency in film language, frequently surpassing Spielberg — particularly in the helicopter shots. Sadly, Lambert’s deft eye is once again squandered on a project so far beneath his abilities that one wonders what he could have accomplished with a respectable project and a reasonable budget. Now in the autumn of his long, coulda-been-a-contender career, this seems to be all we will ever know of Lambert.

Stanley Kauffmann. The New Republic. July 1, 1978.

Hellshark poster and Deadbolt flier copyright 2011 by Jake Kelly, Hellshark review copyright 2011 Todd Whitten

Clipping from The Plain Dealer, Friday, August 4th, 1978.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: