It’s long been said that the inspiration for the story that led to the movie “Jaws” was a series of vicious shark attacks in New Jersey in 1916.

On July 1, Charles Vansant, 25, was swimming in the ocean off the coast of Beach Haven. A shark attacked him, and a lifeguard pulled him to shore where he very quickly bled to death.

Five days later, another fatal shark attack; then still more for a total of four dead. It was huge news and was believed to be the inspiration for Peter Benchley’s novel, although he downplayed it.

(Photo: Universal Pictures)
(Photo: Universal Pictures)

When that book was made into the film “Jaws”, it became part of the national consciousness, and people were staying out of the ocean in record numbers.

Great film. Well-acted. The Indianapolis monologue by Robert Shaw is among the most gripping movie scenes of all time.

But is “Jaws” a horror film? I had this debate with Kylie Moore recently, who insists it is. She has terrific taste and insight into much of pop culture, yet she’s also the poor misguided soul who insists “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie.

Just because the subject matter is scary and suspenseful doesn’t make it a Halloween classic., the movie resource site, lists the film genres as adventure, mystery and thriller.

Ben Gardner's Boat (Photo: Hooper Discovers Ben Gardner's Boat - JAWS (1975), Fear: The Home of Horror, Youtube)
Ben Gardner's Boat (Photo: Hooper Discovers Ben Gardner's Boat - JAWS (1975), Fear: The Home of Horror, Youtube)

Action adventure sounds about right to me. Sure, the best jump scare in the film comes when lost boater Ben Gardner’s body floats up to show its disfigured, ocean-eaten face in the hole in the ship.

But is it the kind of movie that leaves you afraid to go to sleep or walk down a dark hallway? No. It’s scary in the way that “Twister” may have caused some kids to fear tornadoes. But is “Twister” a horror movie? No.

Next, we’ll be told Forrest Gump is a war movie. We’ll be told with a straight face, “The Shining” is a rom-com.


You need a lesson in what a real horror movie is? Watch the 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead.” The ghouls are dead people which regenerate to come back and feast on flesh of the living. There’s nothing scarier than ourselves.

LOOK: Which movies were filmed in New Jersey?

Stacker compiled a list of movies filmed in New Jersey using data from Movie Locations, with additional information about each film collected from IMDb.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

Windfarm projects proposed for NJ coast — and what they might look like

These are the wind energy projects approved for and planned for the ocean off the coasts of New Jersey and New York. While the projects have the support of officials who say they will stimulate the local economy and create renewable energy to power millions of homes, many coastal residents have raised concerns about how the projects will impact tourism and the environment.

The gallery includes competing photosimulations — those on file with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and those recently commissioned by a group opposed to the wind farm development.

Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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