June 20th, 2010 marks the 35th anniversary of the release of the movie JAWS. This post is part of Radiation-Scarred Review's 2010 SHARKATHALON, which celebrates this milestone with blog posts around the web.
None of these quintessential '70s paperback bestsellers by Jaws author Peter Benchley could be classified as horror, but in the wake of the success of his first novel it's interesting to see how that single cover image dictated how his books would be marketed for pretty much his entire career. After my less-than-stellar experience reading Jaws, I have to say I have never read anything else by Benchley. According to Amazon, none of these titles are even in print any longer. Still, check out these awesome vintage covers and ponder their eerie if not down right ripoff similarity to Jaws.
The Deep (1976) is probably the most famous of Benchley's post Jaws works. I think it's about undersea treasure. It was made into a so-so '77 movie with Robert Shaw, Nick Nolte, and Jacqueline Bisset's nipples.
Love this cover for The Island (1979), a book I'm going to assume is about pirates who simply tattoo jolly rogers onto their hands so everybody knows who they are. Wasn't this made into a movie too? I really can't recall. Please, somebody Google.
And finally, The Girl of the Sea of Cortez (1982). Even almost 10 years later Benchley is being sold on Jaws, but I guess that's to be expected. I don't know anything about this except I recall my mom reading it when it came out and enjoying it a lot. According to Wikipedia it's more of a sea fable than a suspense novel and is widely regarded as Benchley's best work.
The paperback artwork on these is pretty cool, I really dig the deep blues of them all, the ocean surfaces that seem so placid and calming but that are about to be disrupted by unseen powers from below, and that ever-present word: JAWS. I have strong memories of these books on supermarket checkout racks and on my mom's nightstand as well as at the homes of various relatives throughout the late 1970s. Summertime trips were incomplete without an accompanying cheap paperback novel; what better way to cool off at the blistering beach than with one of Benchley's chilling tales of high-seas menace and adventure? Why you're still going to the beach during the late 1970s after Jaws, though, I have no idea.