Every summer the Alamo Drafthouse holds “Jaws On the Water” events in Austin, Texas. At these one-of-a-kind screenings, attendees are invited to watch the greatest shark movie ever made from open water (Well, sort of open. It’s surrounded by a dock.). This year, the newly-minted Birth. Movies. Death. Events presented the series, which has run for the duration of July. Much like the “On the Water” screening of The Shallows that I attended last year, this year’s screening was equally as fun and eventful. Even better is that this year screenings were added for Jaws 2, Jaws 3 and Jaws: The Revenge (that last one was a Master Pancake screening, of course). Rather than see Jaws, however, I jumped at the chance to see Jaws 2, my personal favorite installment in the franchise, on the water.
“But Trace, why are you going to waste your time seeing Jaws 2? Why don’t you see the much better Jaws?“, you may ask (I know some readers just jumped down to the comments to start tearing me apart). That is an excellent question. While I do agree that Jaws is the best entry in the series in terms of quality, Jaws 2 is actually the entry that I would re-watch at any given moment. You see, Jaws 2 is the first Jaws film I ever saw (yes, I saw it before I saw the first one), and as much as I love the original, Jaws 2 is simply a more fun film. I mean it turns into a slasher movie for the last 40 minutes for God’s sake. Sure, it is the epitome of the bloated sequel (it could stand to have about 20 minutes shaved off of its runtime), Jeannot Szwarc’s direction is nowhere near as strong as Steven Spielberg’s and Jaws 2 clearly has a much less original script. All of that being said I still can’t help but love the damn thing. That’s why I chose to see “Jaws 2 On the Water” instead of “Jaws On the Water”. Also, RIP Marge.
Tickets for these “On the Water” screenings are $55, and while patrons may be turned off by the steep price tag, it should be noted that every ticket includes:
* A shark-approved inner tube that you get to keep.
* Access to Beachside Billy’s (formerly Volente Beach) Water Park fun from 6:00PM – 8:30PM, including the Lazy Lagoon, The Sidewinder, water slides, volleyball, a beachside bar and grill and a whole lot more.
* A screening of one of the greatest films of all time (and its sequels).
* An explosive fireworks finale.
* The chance to be a floating shark snack for a squad of scuba divers to scare.
Oh! And don’t forget the Mondo-designed pint glass, featuring original artwork by acclaimed artist Kevin Tong:
Needless to say, the price of admission is completely justified. And if you have an aversion to water parks, rest easy that the area where you watch the film is actually on the beach on the outer border of the water park (the park is located on the shore of Lake Travis) All of the water running through the park is fresh water from the lake too. So instead of marinating in a chlorinated cesspool of urine, you’re actually relaxing in a lake while watching the film. Upon arriving at Beachside Billy’s, I was prompted to the registration desk where I had to present my ticket. I was also invited to pre-purchase beers that would be handed out during the screening. After paying a reasonable price of $4 per beer (the options were Lonestar and PBR), I was given one rubber bracelet to trade in for beer during the screening (more on that in a bit). I bought three.
I was welcome to grab my inner tube at that time, but I figured since I had two and a half hours to go down the water slides and eat some tasty Texas BBQ that I would hold off. I had free reign to the water slides at the park and went down them more than a few times, but my favorite attraction at the park was probably the Sidewinder, a crazy U-shaped slide with a steep drop. If you like roller coasters, this is the slide to go down.
After going down the slides a few times I was able to get some food and grab a couple of beers before everyone in the park was encouraged to get in the water for the screening. I ran to get my tube really quick and ran into the water. For a Friday night, it wasn’t that crowded. One of the park employees informed me that they had roughly 200 tickets purchased for Jaws 2 compared to the 1,000(ish) they had for a Jaws screening the weekend before. I don’t know what’s wrong with people. Jaws 2 is such a blast (okay, I’ll stop defending Jaws 2 now)!
Anyway, remember those beer bracelets I purchased upon my arrival? It turns out those were extremely handy during the screening. Rather than have to swim back to shore and go to the bar for a beer, there were beer attendants standing on the dock and waiting to hand you beers in exchange for those rubber bracelets. You simply swim to the dock, hand an attendant a bracelet and get a beer in return. All you had to do was float over to them and a beer would be waiting for you. You can see them parked on the back of the dock with their ice chests here:
Unfortunately it seems that by opting to see Jaws 2 instead of Jaws that I missed out on two things: scuba divers and fireworks. As mentioned above, many (if not all) of the “Jaws On the Water” screenings feature scuba divers who swim around under the water and grab people’s legs throughout the film. Those divers were not present during the one-time-only screening of Jaws 2. Also missing was the fireworks show at the climax of the film when Brody electrocutes the shark (they usually fire them off when Brody blows up the shark in Jaws). These features may have been missing because attendance was so low compared to the Jaws screenings. It was a disappointing, but certainly not deal-breaking, loss.
The lack of scuba divers and fireworks aside, this was still an incredible movie-watching experience and one that I look forward to attending every summer. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll actually go see Jaws (though I really want to see Jaws 3 on the water since it’s, you know, set in a water park). Also, I managed to snag a few photos before I started making my way through the water park, so please enjoy some more of my excellent photography skills below: