Jaws Vs Jurassic Park, Which Is Truly Horror?

A great white that focuses on nothing except consumption, it’s waiting for someone to go into the ocean. Predatory dinosaurs, they yearn for the opportunity to rip their prey apart. Being in either of these scenarios would not be ideal. However, I would argue only one of them can truly be called horror. Spoilers ahead, although, what the hell are you doing if you haven’t seen Jaws or Jurassic Park yet?

I thought comparing the scarier aspects of these two properties would be an intriguing exercise. Before I get into it, I’ll mainly be referencing the first films of each franchise as well as the novels they were based on. Speaking of the books, that’s a good starting point. The first one, Jaws, was based on a book classified as a thriller novel, but it was turned into a movie many consider so scary it made people afraid to go swimming, a tagline that was fitting for it.

The second, Jurassic Park is adapted from a novel that’s arguably horror, but the movie gives more adventure vibes. Both were directed by Steven Spielberg and have similar themes. Is Jaws a scary film? It certainly has its moments. It has a kill count. 

It has dramatic music, an old, well, older man telling a haunting story, and lots of blood. Most importantly, it has a monster striking fear in the heart of the characters, a shark in this case. Now, what about Jurassic Park? The thing about the movie is that it seems to have the setup to be frightening without following through with it all the way.  Don’t get me wrong.

It can get tense and people in it do get killed. Brutally, I might add. Here’s what holds it back, PG-13. I can see why the changes with adapting Jaws were made since many of the characters in it were lowkey terrible people. Hooper hits on Ellen who then sleeps with him later. 

The only person I think was better in the book is the mayor since he’s painted in a more sympathetic light. That ties into a mafia subplot, though, so I can see why they made him a standard negligent politician. With the Jurassic Park novel, it feels like a missed opportunity it wasn’t made into a straight-up horror film. When I said people were killed brutally, I meant it. The deaths are way more visceral.

People get eaten alive, even a baby in its crib at the beginning of the novel. These deaths aren’t quick either, especially when people get venom spat in their eyes. Knowing this, why make it an adventure story? I haven’t researched any makings of regarding it. My money would be on studio interference if I had to guess.

Dinosaurs are popular with children and would sell a lot of merchandise. Not to mention, plenty of kids love getting scared so what was the issue? Two words, complaining parents. Dinosaurs are good and all, but I can’t imagine they would have been too keen about letting their kids watch people get their insides ripped out. The possible reason for this reaction is a bit off-topic.

Batman Returns was released the year prior. It was dark and violent which made parents flip their lids since it was marketed to children. Of course, this caused advertisers to immediately cave. Due to this backlash, the following two sequels in that series were way more kid-friendly. Something similar may have happened with Jurrasic Park where the studio wanted it to be more family-friendly. 

Then again, I could be entirely wrong about all this. If I am and it turns out it was a purely creative decision then all I’ll say on the matter is that I think the ball was dropped on that one. It’s still a great movie with effects that still hold up even today. I just feel like it could have been even better if it remained loyal to the more shocking aspects of the novel. 

If someone was a fan of the original story’s intensity and went into that film expecting it to deliver on that tone, they may have been disappointed. That isn’t to say the final product wasn’t well-received. It just can’t accurately be called scary, tense yes. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as it can get with its rating. Therefore, at least as far as videos go, Jaws takes it, right? 

At least, Jurassic Park has it beat in the literature category.  Rather, Jaws would be going home with the metaphorical trophy were it not for a couple factors. Personally, I can’t call Jaws horror for one simple reason. To me, for something to be a part of that genre, the danger presented has to be hard to avoid or escape. The monster in It Follows is horrifying because it will pursue its target, albeit slowly, no matter where they are in the world.

The aliens in A Quiet Place are scary because if you do so much as sneeze they are on you like white on rice. Freddy Krueger will come after you in your dreams. My point is that all of these are difficult to overcome. With the killer shark, the trouble could have been easily avoided if the people in charge of Amity were upfront about it and put in resources to take care of it right away. I get the town relied on tourism as part of its revenue.

Not to nitpick (although, that’s exactly what I’m doing) I find it hard to believe a place like that wouldn’t have been able to weather at least one bad season. I guess it just goes to show that greed truly is the root of all evil. That’s also the reason for all the mayhem in Jurassic Park. Now I know what some of you may be thinking, something along the lines of:

“Well, by your logic is Friday The 13th not a horror movie since all that would need to happen would be for Jason to have been saved from drowning and for people not to go to Camp Crystal Lake?”

That is a fair point. Here’s the difference. Characters such as Jason are way more dangerous. Granted, camping out at the place where you know people have been murdered probably isn’t the best idea, but where would the genre be if there weren’t some idiots to throw into the fire? Plus, he is nearly indestructible and if you are on his shit list he will go after you until his machete is coated in your blood. You can put him down for a while sure.

He always comes back eventually. Compare that to a shark. Even the great white has easily exploitable weaknesses. Did you know if a shark stops moving that’s a wrap for it? Yeah, kind of makes them seem less threatening now. 

In fact, that’s how the one in the Jaws novel is defeated. Another tidbit of info, some sharks enjoy having their snouts rubbed. Supposedly, this sensation is so pleasurable to them that they will literally cease all movement to experience it.  As I stated, if that happens they don’t last much longer. Maybe in my case, learning more about sharks has made them less scary to me.

That isn’t to say I’d ever want to swim in a shark tank while holding a bucket of chum. With that said,  if someone came up to me with the choice of being at Amity while the Shark is attacking or on Jurrasic Park while shit hits the fan, the choice would be a no-brainer. The deciding factor here is that not nearly as much is known about the dinosaurs. Their intelligence in the story far outclass that of the great whites in Jaws.

In my opinion, that makes them way more of a threat because they seem to hunt for pleasure as well as sustenance.  All they need is for there to be one slip up and then they can have their fun. Too bad, Jurassic Park has never been adapted to be scary. Well, that’s only as far as the movies go, at least so far. That’s why I’m happy to introduce you to the world of Jurassic Park analog.

This shit goes hard. I’ve already gone over what analog horror is in a previous article, but the way I defined it was a bit too narrow. Yes, emulating the style of old video and radio technology can be a part of it. What it truly is at its core, though, is using audio and visuals to create a truly terrifying and immersive experience. In Local 58, your perspective is from someone living in that world and not knowing when the channel will come out with its next warning or whether or not you can trust it.

With the Backrooms, you’re in the shoes of people either exploring or who have become trapped in that seemingly endless space.  In the case of Jurassic Park, the perspective constantly changes. It ranges from found footage of someone getting attacked by a T-rex in their backyard to workers filming on the island who were killed to even showing autopsy reports. Let me say that they did not go peacefully.  I’m not sure who began using Jurassic Park in this style.

Regardless, hats off to them. I should also mention that similar to The Backrooms there appears to be only one linear series with a bunch of unrelated fan work surrounding it. Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the upcoming game, Jurassic Park Survival. Even from the little bit, I’ve seen this seems to be everything fans of the book could want. From what I’ve heard, it takes place shortly after the first movie. You play as a researcher who is trapped on the island and trying to escape.

If you want to know more, check out the trailer. In conclusion, between the Jaws and Jurassic Park films, the former is scarier. However, I wouldn’t label either as horror. Outside of the movies, Jurassic Park fits that genre no question. If you don’t believe me, check some of it out and then see if it doesn’t get your adrenaline spiking. 

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