The Goreham family, from Birmingham, England, are huge Jaws fans. Dad, David, and his 11 year old daughter, May, devoured the film and visited Universal Studios together, before heading to Amity Island itself.
The Daily Jaws (TDJ): When did you first watch Jaws?
David: “I first heard of the movie being discussed by some older family friends, I was probably only aged 6 or so back then, and I’m guessing it may have been shown on UK terrestrial television for the first or second time.
The underlying feeling I got, was I would be petrified but this huge shark and the size of its mouth. Needless to say I was then eager to see the film for myself, but I don’t think I managed to watch it until a couple of years later, by which point my family had moved home, and also acquired a VCR player, hence I recorded and subsequently watched the film finally around the age of 7 or 8.
TDJ: Were you scared?
David: “I can vividly remember the only real ‘scare’ I felt during the first viewing, was the appearance of Ben Gardner’s head from the hull of his boat, which gave me a proper jump scare, but being amazed and thrilled with the shark attacks. From then on, Jaws became one of a few movies that had heavy rotation through my youth growing up, and during holidays with my parents, I would always be walking around any harbours, trying to find a boat that looked anything like ‘The Orca’!!”
TDJ: What is it you love about Jaws?
David: I can’t quite put it down to any one particular reason why I had such a love for the movie and still do, as it has been such a long time that the movie is ingrained in my memory, maybe it’s the realism of Amity island and its characters, my love for the character Quint, and his boat. But it has stood the test of time and one of a few films that if it is being shown on television, no matter what point in the movie, I feel compelled to finish watching it. Over the years, I have brought the anniversary video cassette versions, DVD versions, and BluRay with its various documentaries.
TDJ: How long has your daughter been ‘in Jaws’?
David: At some point around five years back, my daughter started asking questions about the film, would she be scared of the shark? She was curious to see it but also nervous about being scared. After a month or so of being questioned, I suggested that we both watch a ‘making of’ documentary, as that would show the behind the scenes stuff, thus less likely be scary. So we both watched ‘The shark is still working’, and that was it for her as well, she went on to watch the movie countless times, and also developed a love for Quint, Brody, and amity island in general. She has dressed as Quint for several school occasions including world book day!
TDJ: How did you set on the road to decide to visit Martha’s Vineyard?
David: Last year, we flew to Florida for our summer holiday, and a big part of that was visiting universal. May was hungry for more Jaws related merchandise, and also to see the big Bruce hanging by the dock. I had told my daughter all about the backlot tour I did in 1997 when Jaws comes out to attack, and seeing the ‘help shark’ billboards. We were both a bit disappointed with the lack of Jaws related stuff overall at Universal in 2018, and it was at this point that one of us mentioned visiting Martha’s Vineyard.
Once we were home I started looking into costs and logistics to work out how, and how much, and we had soon planned to fly into Boston, spend a few days there then get over to Martha’s Vineyard for a few days. When we had booked and paid for the trip, we sat down with a map of the island and started working out an itinerary of which sites we wanted to visit, what order, and maximising our time on Amity. From asking a few questions on a Jaws fan site, I found the beach used to shoot the closing scenes where Brody and Hooper swim into shore. Unfortunately it is hard to access, and was the only site we never managed to get to.
TDJ: Did Martha’s Vineyard live up to your expectations?
David: Once we were on Martha’s Vineyard it felt totally surreal to be driving around the place I have been watching on screen for close to 35 years of my life, my daughter in the back who was almost bouncing around the car as we went!
After checking into our hotel (The Maddison Inn, situated in Oak Bluffs, highly recommended), and getting lots of info regarding where to park for free, certain spots to eat, we set off on our journey around the island...
TDJ: What Jaws locations did you visit?
David: First stop was on the iconic Jaws Bridge, on the road from Oak Bluffs into Edgartown. It is recognisable straight away for even the most causal of fans, and as the weather was warm and sunny, we spent time walking the rocks and recreating a selfie shot where Brody sprints to the pond.
Next up was the short drive into Edgartown, where once parked, we were right opposite the Town Hall, another photo op and recognisable landmark. We had also been told to visit ‘The Wharf’ pub and restaurant in Edgartown, as it is the home of Alex Kintner AKA Jeffrey Voorhees, so we ventured inside, where my daughter excitedly met, and asked some questions about his time and memories of making the film.
It was a nice experience, and we came away with a signed shirt and a great feeling to start our adventure there. Everyone we met on Martha’s Vineyard was so friendly, polite and generally surprised to find that we had come from the UK to visit the island.
Over the space of three days, we managed to visit all of the sites we had mapped out, most of them on several occasions, and I’d recommend that anyone making the trip over, to have a car rented for the duration of their stay. It meant we could travel around freely and maximise our time there.
The journey from one end of the island (Aquinnah, site of the ‘help shark’ billboard) to the other (Edgartown/South Beach) by car is around 45 minutes.
We travelled from Edgartown (Amity PD headquarters, Town Hall, Amity docks) down to South Beach (Christie’s remains beach and stunning beach), then up to East Chop and it’s lighthouse, (also the site of the Chief Brody residence).
From there we headed across the island to Menemsha harbour, this is much different to Edgartown, and is home to the location of Quint’s shack. It is also where the Orca set sail. Menemsha is a gorgeous little fishing harbour, filled with working lobster boats, fish markets and a lovely little eatery called ‘The Galley’. They serve great sandwiches, ice creams and drinks, which can be enjoyed on their porch around the back.
The view from the porch is out to where the Orca set sail, and directly to its right is the empty plot where Quint boiled his sharks jaws. Amazing! We sat there eating and the whole time the ‘out to sea’ theme was repeating itself through my mind.
Also in Menemsha, you can see across the pond to the private beach where the Orca 2, the sinkable boat used in the finale of the movie, was sat for 35 odd years after the filming was finished. Very little remains there now.
On our last day on Martha’s Vineyard, before we literally had to set sail back to Boston, we met with Susan Murphy, who along with her late husband Lynn, did a lot of the behind the scenes effects for the movie, towing Bruce and various boats.
She kindly let us purchase a small piece of ‘The Orca 2’, and gave us a few stories of the making of the movie as well. It was a sweet and fitting finish to our visit, and we started our journey back to England exhausted but happy.
The real life Amity, as you know, means friendship.