JAWS THE REVENGE (1987) – Music Composed, Arranged and Conducted by Michael Small
**** out of ***** an excellent score with fast paced variations on the jaws theme, great action music and lovely emotional moments. Only loses one star for the brevity of some tracks that prevented Michael Small to further develop his fantastic music in longer pieces.
The film is terrible with an absurd plot, hushed production and a very fake-looking shark but has a few redeeming qualities: a good cast, beautiful locations, some effective sequences and, above all, the excellent musical score by veteran composer Michael Small.
An original soundtrack “available at MCA records and tapes” was mentioned at the movie’s teaser poster. Having seen this poster I started to hunt for the soundtrack, and, in the pre-internet days, it took me a long time to discover that in fact that release of the score had never happened. I continued to be obsessed with this soundtrack over the years, enduring the movie multiple times on VHS just to hear the music.
In 1994 some of the score became available at an Edel’s 2-CD Compilation “Best of Adventure” which included a “world premiere recording” of “Jaws IV: The Revenge” (and of the then unreleased scores of The Goonies, Shoot to Kill, Remo Williams, Savage Island [Nate and Hayes], Fandango - among others). It was only an 11 min. suite re-recording by the City of Prague Orchestra (before the CPO became more refined) but it was great to finally have at least some of the music available.
On 2000 a promo of the original score was released (with the Jaws 2 teaser poster as a cover). But I was disappointed to discover that it included only 28 min. of music (missing a lot of essential tracks while including music not used in the film) and by the hissy sound quality. That promo was supposedly sourced from a composer 2nd or 3rd generation personal copy of the discarded LP program.
Finally, on February 2015, the score was released by Intrada Records. It is an excellent release with the complete score, including one cue of source music and some alternates in good sound (even if still with some hiss) taken from the original stereo mixes prepared for the film.
The booklet includes a lot of interesting information on the problematic production of the film but not much on how Michael Small was chosen or on how the music is used in the movie. Therefore, I decided to do a track-by-track comment on the music and its context in the movie.
1) Jaws The Revenge – Main Title (2:30)
The movie opens with an underwater shark POV at night (with the sounds of a marker buoy bell, reminiscent of the first Jaws). The music starts with a kind of low “roar effect” (the same effect will be used in several tracks) and suspenseful music in the strings and brass. Soon the familiar two note shark motif appears as the shark’s POV rises above the water to reveal docks in the distance. The title of the movie appears and a triumphant brass fanfare plays (at 0:27) - such fanfare will be used various times though the movie (becoming a kind of musical signature of the film). Following the fanfare the familiar shark theme begins in a fast paced version (more adventurous than menacing), then at 1:11 Michael Small introduces his unique take on the Jaws theme: an exciting, fast-paced rhythmic portion of the theme that is expanded from a very brief secondary section of the original John Williams theme. The music continues with a statement of the bridge portion of the Jaws theme (the “supernatural” motif of the shark that is used in the original Jaws when it first swims by the Orca revealing its size in “Man Against Beast” / “Sea Attack Number One” – which is particularly appropriated in this movie given the supernatural nature of the “revenge”) and then it finishes with a more traditional take on the climax of the Jaws theme.
This track really gets your blood pumping. Michael Small music has many different layers of sound playing simultaneously in the various sections of the orchestra and really creates a sense of urgency and adventure that makes you which he had scored more action films in his career.
2) Sean Attacked (1:31) Sean Brody (taking his late father position as Amity Chief of Police) must go out on a boat at night to release a piece of wood stuck in the canal marker buoy. The music starts with the ominous two note shark motif when the shark POV focus on Sean in the Amity Police boat. Then it accelerates and a powerful version of the shark theme music alternating with some dissonant orchestral outbursts are applied for the brutal attack itself. In the movie some of the music is dialed out (this track is also largely reused on the reedited finale of the film). I did some score restore on this sequence
3) Identification (0:44) Sad music which in the final part reminds a bit the mood of “Remains On The Beach” from Jaws. The music is for the scene on which Ellen recognizes her son’s body at the morgue.
4) Run – Funeral (1:21) More sad but beautiful music for the scene on which Michael Brody remembers his brother and runs at the beach then it moves to the subsequent funeral scene (on which Ellen remembers the “Father And Son” scene from Jaws that will be recreated latter in the movie).
5) Flight To The Bahamas (1:39) This unused track should play when Ellen leaves with Michael’s family to the Bahamas, starting with some sad music (similar to the music in Identification) when the camera focus on the piece of wood that was stuck on the buoy laying at the beach then changing to more uplifting music as the group is arriving at the Bahamas by plane. This track introduces a motif (at 0:12) that will be used for the flight sequences in the film when Ellen is dating the pilot Hoagie [Michael Caine]). I did a “score restore” of this track to show how it was supposed to play in the movie
6) Ellen Warns (0:37) A very short suspense track for the scene on which Ellen shouts at her granddaughter upon seeing her playing in a dock (also to some extent a recreation of the scene of Jaws on which Brody shouts at his son Michael to get out of the boat at the dock). Even in a very short track Michael Small manages to move from suspense to regret (when Ellen regrets her ‘irrational’ behavior). This track introduces the sound of electronic echoing bells and this same sound will be applied latter for the “telepathic motif” that will be used in the movie when Ellen senses that the shark is around or Michael is worrying about the shark.
7) Ellen’s Dream (1:07) A short track but one of the score’s highlights. The music starts with some suspense as Michael shows Ellen a sculpture being made by his wife that looks a lot like a shark’s jaws, then a kind of hypnotic rhythm starts for Ellen swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas - the music seems tranquil at first but gradually becomes menacing and accelerates as the shark POV approaches and attacks. The music stops abruptly when it is all revealed to have been a nightmare.
8) Tagging the Conchs (1:36) Another unused track for the underwater activities of Michael Brody who is studying some sea snails with his partner Jake. The music is basic “diving music” and its omission from the movie is understandable as it doesn’t add much dramatically to the scene. I did a “score restore” of this track to show how it was supposed to play in the movie https://youtu.be/TkPAkrV9Fwg
9) Ellen Plays With “Leah” (1:09) (misspelled track title as the name of the kid is Thea and not Leah). This unused track should score the Christmas scene, the happy mood from the first part of the track changes when Thea asks about his uncle Sean and Ellen remembers the shark (and an ominous slow version of the shark theme introduction plays in the background). I did a “score restore” of this track to show how it was supposed to play in the movie https://youtu.be/-skCTIkZ-oo
10) Jaws The Revenge (0:33) The shark is shown arriving in the Bahamas (with tracked music from the beginning of the Main Titles). In the following sequence Ellen is playing with Thea at the beach and when her feet touch the sea she feels that the shark is near. The shark theme plays and the score introduces the “telepathic” echoing bells motif.
11) Ellen Flies Plane (1:31) After a brief introduction the flying theme plays for the scene on which Ellen has some piloting lessons with Hoagie, the mood is breezy and light. This track is tracked at the end of the movie for the airport scene (replacing the almost identical original version recorded for the “finale”).
12) Shark Attacks Jake In Sled (0:57) Another short track that is also a highlight of the score. Jake is in a small submarine and the shark slowly approaches it from the side, then it climbs above the water and attacks the barge on which Michael Brody is.
The music starts with suspense and the roar effect is used when Jake sees the shark. A pulsing action music is used for the scene on which the shark rises out of the water and chomps on a wooden platform at the barge. The shark theme plays in the background as the shark dives and disappears.
13) Don’t Tell Mother (0:29) A very short track for the aftermath of the previous attack, while Jake is fascinated by the shark and wants to study it Michael is very worried that his mother’s fears may have some grounds. The music starts when Michael asks Jake to not tell his mother about the shark and then the “telepathic” motif plays as he stares the ocean. IMO this track could have been joined with the previous as they’re both very short and play great together (the ending of the previous matching perfectly the start of this track).
14) Saying Goodnight (0:46) Another score highlight. A delicate short romantic interlude starting at a love scene between Michael and his wife Carla and closing with Hoagie and Ellen saying goodnight after a date and almost kissing. Maybe the only problem with the score is that tracks like this are too short, which is the result of the movie structure (it is a very short movie, less than 1h30, comprised of short sequences – a similar problem that affects Robocop 3, for example) which prevented Michael Small to develop the music longer.
15) Shark Takes Bait (1:44) Michael and Jake decides to put a transmitter on the shark to monitor and study it. The music starts when the shark POV is seen approaching from the distance. Michael Small applies an unique arrangement of the two note shark theme almost as a march, with the rhythm accelerating as the shark approaches. When it dives some suspense music is applied, until it bursts out of the water and takes the bait (allowing Jake to tag it with the transmitter) with an outburst of action music concluding with a big stinger as the shark is tagged and rhythmic percussion as the shark dives returning to suspenseful music as it swims away. https://youtu.be/sf2eXsM6Kik
16) Runaway Bay (4:11) A track of light “Caribbean” source music that plays while Ellen and Hoagie are having a drink at a beach bar and Hoagie kisses Ellen. The scene is short using a fraction of this source track, which in its entirety runs over 4 minutes. IMO this is the main sequencing problem of the album. This kind of source track breaks the mood of the score, being a bit overlong and having no dramatic progression. Although it is in its chronological place I think it would be better if it was placed after the finale of the score.
17) Alright Mr. Fish (0:38) Michael and Jake are on a boat tracking the shark, as Michael is worried about Hoagie dating Ellen he loses track of the shark. As they stare at the ocean the telepathic motif plays and the shark is shown swimming away.
18) Michael’s Dream (0:44) A big brass stinger plays as Michael has a nightmare with the shark jumping out of the water. As he awakes the music continues reflecting his concerns.
19) Peak-A-Boo (1:25) Michael is worried and his daughter Thea starts to mimic him as Ellen watches (in a recreation of the first movie “Father And Son” scene). If in the first Jaws Williams scored the scene in a more reflective way on the mood of Brody, here Michael Small opted instead for a kind of Mickey Mousing approach, reflecting in the music the kids gestures. It is a nice track providing some warm mood for the father and daughter relationship.
20) Picking Up Signals (0:42) As Michael is diving to work on the conchs research the tracking system picks the shark heart beat signals approaching. The introduction to the shark theme starts to play and, as Jake warns Michael to return and Michael boards the submarine an exciting suspense rhythm plays with the telepathic echoing bells motif ending the track. In the movie this track is immediately followed by the next (and IMO they should have been joined in a single track - as the suspense rhythm in this track is repeated also in the ending of the next track – and it works great as single track book ended by this same motif)
21) Michael Attacked By Shark (2:32) The best and longest set piece of the movie – apparently the scene was extended after it was originally scored as in the movie the music is looped to cover the longer length of the sequence.
As Michael is in his submarine the shark appears and attacks it. Michael manages to leave the submarine and is chased by the shark. Michael enters a sunken ship and is followed by the shark through the sunken ship corridors. When Michael becomes trapped in a room he manages to escape using its air tank to climb to the surface.
The music starts with the fanfare used at the main titles as the shark appears and starts to attack the submarine. The shark theme is used backing some exciting action music and on occasion rising to the foreground as Michael escapes and is chased by the shark. When Michael enters the sinking ship the music shifts for suspense as the shark slowly chases him through the corridors of the ship. The final portion of the track is unused in the film as Michael makes his escape after the shark breaks through a wall and hits a stair almost getting Michael. https://youtu.be/4vzZl0VvBcw
22) Michael At Mirror (0:52) Following the attack Michael is in shock. The telepathic motif plays through the track and a new “resolution” theme is introduced as Michael can not sleep that night. This theme is my favorite from the movie that will be fully developed in the movie’s turning point as Ellen goes out to sea to face the beast.
23) Moray Eel (1:03) On the next day after being attacked Michael decides to return to his job diving to tag conchs. The first part of this track should be heard as he is diving but went unused in the movie. As a moray eel scares Michael there’s a big stinger (an effective scare in the movie), then the new resolution theme is briefly quoted as Michael is recovers from the scare. I did a “score restore” of this track to show how it was supposed to play in the movie
24) Banana Boat (1:27) Another effective sequence in the movie. Thea is riding a Banana Boat as her mother is attending a dedication ceremony at the beach on which her sculpture is being installed. As Ellen starts to fell that something is not right the telepathic motif plays briefly and then the shark theme plays as the fin rises on the water chasing the banana boat. This track uses the fast-paced arrangement of the shark theme applied at the main titles and also the main titles fanfare as the crowd watch in panic the shark approaching the banana boat. As the shark misses Thea and gets another woman in the banana boat the track gets more intense and concludes with the telepathic motif as the shark dives eating the woman and the banana boat escapes with the kids.
25) Ellen Goes Out To Sea (1:14) Another highlight of the score (the final portion of the soundtrack is a string of amazing tracks, starting with this one). After the Banana Boat attack, Ellen sees the fin in the sea and rushes to the dock were she takes Michael and Jake’s boat and goes out to sea to face the shark. The “resolution” introduced in Michael At Mirror plays in full as Ellen is navigating the boat to the open sea. It is a bittersweet beautiful theme.
26) Michael Runs For Help (1:01) Upon returning home Michael learns about the attack on Thea and realizes that his mother and his boat are missing. This is an amazing action track on which the music reflects the urgency of the situation, as Michael runs and takes a small boat with Jake to go after his mother (final portion of this track was unused in the movie). https://youtu.be/7BdXaWO1WoQ
27) Plane Buzzes Shark (1:28) The shark’s POV approaches Ellen at the boat. As it approaches the same shark theme march arrangement used at “Shark Takes Bait” plays, while Michael, Jake and Hoagie are on a plane searching for Ellen. When Ellen sees the fin approaching in the distance the “supernatural” shark theme bridge plays in a dramatic statement as Ellen confronts the shark. The action returns with the main title fanfare as Hoagie sees the shark approaching the boat a dive his plane to scare it as it is jumping out of the water to attack Ellen.
28) Is Hoagie Dead? (0:58) After an unscored impressive stunt of the plane landing on the water (the actual crashed plane became a diving spot in the Bahamas). Michael and Jake swims to Ellen’s boat while Hoagie is leaving the plane. The music starts with suspense as the shark underwater POV sees Michael and Jake swimming and then focus on the plane. As the shark starts to attack the plane and sinks it with Hoagie inside a powerful rendition of the shark theme plays. Then some tragic music plays as Ellen, Michael and Jake believe that Hoagie is dead (but somehow Hoagie managed to get of the plane and to swim to the other side of the boat. In the following sequence he already appears with his clothes and hair completely dry as it was noted as a continuity error in several reviews of the movie).
29) Killing Of Jake (1:39) The tracking system starts to pick the signals of the shark approaching. Jake prepares an electrical transmitter that he intends to put inside the shark to give the shark jolts aiming to disorientate it. As Michael sees the shark approaching the shark theme starts, then an aggressive action music plays as Michael turn the boat and Jake gets ready to feed the transmitter to the shark.
The shark disappears and the music becomes suspenseful. When the shark jumps out of the water is slow motion some impressive dissonant music plays (while dialogue is muted) mimicking Ellen and Jake muted screams as the shark eats the electrical device but also gets Jake and dives with Jake in its mouth.
30) Shocked Shark – The Finish (5:44) The finale was heavily reedited after it was scored by Michael Small (with the tracking of Ellen’s Dream and Sean Attacked to accompany a series of flashbacks that apparently were a late addition to the film). The original track indicates a more straightforward finale, without the added flashbacks.
An action rhythm starts the track as Ellen sees the fin coming in the direction of the boat. A powerful rendition of the shark theme plays as Ellen turns the boat towards the shark.
As the shark is shocked by Jake’s electrical device, it jumps out of the water and Ellen impales it with the prow of the boat accompanied by a big orchestral stinger (in the movie the stinger is looped playing twice). The impaled shark dies and sink (a sequence shortened after being scored, as the music runs much longer than the scene in the theatrical cut of the movie) and then some tranquil but sad music plays (an omitted sequence on the theatrical cut that should have shown Ellen, Hoagie and Michael in the water after the shark died and the boat sinks).
For the final scene of the movie at the airport the flying theme returns as Ellen board a plane with Hoagie and leaves, the main title fanfare closes the score as the plane flies to the sunset. Curiously in the movie the airport track is replaced by the almost identical “Ellen Flies Plane” with the fanfare omitted with a cross fade to the main titles music for the end credits.
I did a “score restore” of this track with some editing on the movie to approximate how it looks like that it was supposed to play in the movie https://youtu.be/RdSnBJM2mkI
[After the USA theatrical release the movie ending was reshot with a poor miniature effect of the shark exploding for no reason after being impaled. Also a new scene with Jake appearing alive after the shark exploded was added - this is the version that was released on home vídeo, DVD and Blu-ray. Even with its flaws the original ending is still superior to the reshot ending]
31) Jaws The Revenge – End Credits (2:22) This track was replaced by a looped version of the Main Title music. The original track is a more traditional performance of the theme from Jaws - which is much slower than the Main Titles version and includes sections not used in the underscore such as the Orca theme from the first movie. Apparently, Michael Small’s idea was to close the series “full circle” with the first movie’s theme, just adding a somewhat odd finish with a big crescendo. I think this slower version would be appropriate for the closing of the movie but the fast-paced Main Titles is more exciting.
32) Flight To The Bahamas (alternate take) (1:36) This alternate take does not have any significant difference to the film version.
33) Shark Attacks Jake In Sled (alternate take) (0:55) Again very similar to the film take, but in this track some differences can be perceived specially in the electronics and the beginning of the track.
34) Banana Boat (original ending) (1:29) This track has a big crescendo ending, that was replaced by a quieter finale in the film take.
Intrada’s 2015 release is now sold out but can still be found on some resellers for reasonable price.
IMO there’s still some room for improvement in case it is rereleases by some label in the future. Mainly the minimization of the hiss (maybe with a 1st generation multitrack remix – which could also allow some alternate mixes without the electronic roar effect that remains the more dated aspect of the score). The sequencing could also be improved removing the source track to the end of the program. Also the booklet had an issue in the alternate cover that is a low resolution version of the teaser poster with some visible rendering problems – at the Intrada site this alternate cover was corrected later with a better resolution version (I’m not sure if any of the later pressings of the soundtrack included a booklet with the corrected version).