12 Days of Terror (2004)

When you hear about a film involving a shark, and swimmers on a beach, any child of the 70's will come up with the classic film, Jaws. However, apparently that film was based on a novel that had its origins in an earlier time. 12 Days of Terror is a movie based on the true facts of these earlier events shortly after the turn of the century.

The story takes place in 1916. It's a hot summer, and just like today, folks from the tristate region head to the cool beaches of the Jersey Shore area. While they're on the lookout for a WW I German U-boat, a great white shark starts attacking the swimmers. Also similar to today, the local townsfolk are more focused on having a profitable summer, than the safety of the tourists. The town goes on an all out hunt to find the shark, and make their beaches safe again.

I had to chuckle at one particular scene. After one of the lifeguards is attacked, he emerges from the water bleeding from both lower extremities from the trauma of a shark bite. His buddies carry him into the hotel, and call for the doctor. I'm starting to wonder why, as state of the art medicine in 1916 was still rather primitive. There were no intravenous fluids nor blood transfusions, both of which were developed during WW II. Ditto for the antibiotics. So what could the doctor do? Well, cauterization with heat was a time honored procedure that both arrested bleeding, and sterilized the wound. During the Napoleonic Wars, the idea of ligating major blood vessels was developed with suture materials. Unfortunately, repairing them wasn't really practiced until the Korean War. General anesthesia, and narcotics for pain relief would be used by 1916, but not in the lobby of the hotel. Heck, needles and syringes (glass, reuseable, and needed to be sharpened) wouldn't come around till the thirties anyway. With the limited armamentarium of medicine, I can see why they chose to have the character box before the doctor's arrival, in suit with pocketwatch no less, to make the final pronouncement.

For those that like a good period film, or can't get enough of Discovery's "Shark Week," than 12 Days of Terror is for you. I found it a low budget, no star power, much watered down footnote to the Jaws franchise.

Overall Grade: B-


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