DirectorRene Cardona, Jr
Release Date(s)1977 (January 5, 2021)
Studio(s)United Film Distribution Company (Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing)
- Film/Program Grade: D+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
Cashing in on the Jaws craze that swept up every producing entity in the late 1970s and through to the 1980s (shark-related or otherwise), Tintorera (AKA Tintorera: Tiger Shark) is less of a Jaws rip off and more of a three-way romance with occasional shark attacks. The film stars Hugo Stiglitz, Susan George, and Andres Garcia as three sea-faring, love-making bohemians who share each other in and off the coast of Cancun, periodically taking the time to go into the water and kill sharks for profit while avoiding being eaten by them. Fiona Lewis and Priscilla Barnes also pop up in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them roles.
Tintorera is far from your typical “animal is killing tourists, the local officials don’t believe it or care, and lots of people die” plot you’ll find in any number of similar films from this era. The audio commentary provided on this new Blu-ray release states that the film has deeper meanings when it comes to unconventional love between multiple partners, particularly with a strong woman at the center who is not only willing to participate but is, in essence, in charge of the relationship. That is certainly noteworthy, especially for stories of this type, but the film is so overtly sleazy that hidden meanings and/or progressive attitudes feel more like a modern day byproduct than the actual point at the time. Even if that were the case, it’s difficult to take it seriously. It’s also not the reason that anybody is watching this film in the first place. The advertising materials aren’t really lying as much as they are misleading since a couple of folks do get attacked and eaten by a shark, but the majority of the running time is devoted to the three main characters and the varying relationships they have with each other and other people.
Tintorera also has nothing to do with Jaws outside of the fact that they both feature man-eating sharks... acknowledging, of course, that the film would not exist without Jaws. Very little of the plot revolves around sharks, outside of our leading characters going underwater to kill them. For those who have issues with watching real footage of animals being harmed, this is definitely not a film for you as it prominently features the hunting and killing of real sharks using footage shot specifically for the film. Adversely, you might find yourself cheering for the sharks to eat everyone, whether that was the intention or not. Suffice it to say, Tintorera is not a great film by any means, but it is an interesting one and worthy of discussion.
Tintorera comes to Blu-ray in the US through Kino Lorber and Scorpion Releasing utilizing the shorter American theatrical version of the film with a running time of 87 minutes (the original uncut Mexican version purportedly runs for 126 minutes or longer). It’s an uneven presentation with the majority of the film looking quite good, but with a mild softness and inconsistent grain levels. Some of the Mexican dialogue is subtitled, utilizing burned-in subtitles in which detail isn’t nearly as strong. The color palette offers a number of striking blues and greens with nice skin tones. Blacks are deep, perhaps too deep, with contrast that needed to be dialed back a bit. It’s mostly clean and stable outside of scratches and speckling, as well as the underwater footage which varies greatly in quality.
The audio is provided in English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD Master Audio only with optional subtitles in English SDH. Dialogue exchanges are clear and the score and music selection have a nice presence to them. Mild hiss and occasional distortion are present, and there’s a brief dropout at around the 46:45 mark. Otherwise, it’s a solid track.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth and Rod Barnett
- Trailer (HD – 2:31)
- TV Spot (Upsampled SD – 1:02)
- Sharks’ Treasure Trailer (Upsampled SD – 1:58)
- The Barbarians Trailer (HD – 1:39)
- The Norseman Trailer (Upsampled SD – 1:29)
- Eye of the Tiger Trailer (Upsampled SD – 2:09)
The audio commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Rod Barnett is very informative, although it does go quiet a few too many times. Among the topics of discussion are the Hemdale production company, the source material that the film was based on (though limited since an English language copy apparently doesn’t exist), the underwater cinematography, the aforementioned possible hidden meanings behind unconventional love, the careers of the cast and crew, the unusual decision to allow the women to be more aggressive and in charge of the relationships as opposed to being nothing more than the prize, perceived parallels to Jaws, Mexican filmmaking, the different versions of the film and why shorter is sometimes better, the excessive animal violence, and the beauty of the locations in Cancun. Rounding things out are the film’s trailer, a TV spot, and trailers for other Scorpion Releasing titles.
A film like Tintorera is not one you can just recommend without a few caveats, especially if the other party has no idea what they’re in for. It’s definitely an experience, but not everybody is going to be hip to it, whether it’s the non Jaws-like storyline or the inordinate amount of animal violence. It’s a shame that the Mexican version couldn’t be included for comparison’s sake, but seeing as the American version of the film has been tough to track down in the past, Kino Lorber’s and Scorpion Releasing’s efforts are certainly admirable.
- Tim Salmons