In 1975 Steven Spielberg created the summer blockbuster. Jaws was a global phenomenon that kept people out of the water, terrified of a great white shark attack. For me as a child of 7, I was so freaked out by a movie that I hadn’t even seen, I was afraid of the bathtub and the swimming pool, and if the sprinklers were on too long, etc. It wasn’t long before Universal Studios Hollywood (actually it was the only Universal Studios at the time) decided they needed to bring Bruce the shark to life as part of their world famous studio tour.
Horror and terror are funny things, as scared to death of that shark, and movie I hadn’t seen, I somehow needed to see the shark at Universal. I was lucky in the fact that my Grandmother (and Great Grandmother) and my Uncle Nick all lived in the Hollywood hills at the time. So in the summer of 1976 after begging and pleading my Uncle and I were on our way around the hills for what was a half day experience (including lunch at the “studio” commissary) the World Famous Universal Studios Tour.
Now I spent the entire day driving my Uncle nuts. I’d never been on the tour before, I wasn’t particularly thrilled to sit through all the special effects demos, and I was sure that Jaws was around every corner. I was certain it was going to find a way to eat me up, even from the safety of the tram, and every puddle on the backlot, including the Parting of the Red Sea made me want to jump under the seat. I am certain after a few hours of it he was pretty fed up. (I also remember somewhere along the line he hit his nose on the tram and it was bleeding so badly we had to visit First Aid for awhile which just added to the growing shark fear tension)
Nowadays the first version of the attraction has come to be called “Carrot Tooth”. The powers that be at universal didn’t want a shark to resemble the mechanical shark in the film, but instead they wanted the shark to look like the film poster with huge menacing teeth. The result was a largely cartoon looking berserker version of a great white. Even so the thing scared the life out of me. I can’t say I kept my eyes open the whole time, but I did enough to see the terror face to face. It was a right of passage in many ways and a memory I will treasure forever, and there isn’t a time I visit the studio tour I don’t think of that first thrill (even though the Avalanche part of the tour was actually more frightening.) As we approach this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, and I prepare to see what amazing monsters they will bring to life, I wanted to pay tribute to “Carrot Tooth Bruce” the first Universal Monster that really scared me.
The post Ken’s Gateway Scares – Jaws on the Universal Studios Tour (1976) appeared first on HorrorBuzz.