Robert Shaw courtesy Universal Video
Question: Someone told me there was a real Jaws guy. Were they messing with me? - Jake
I'm guessing someone told you Quint, the crusty old shark fisherman played by the late Robert Shaw in Jaws (1975), was based on a real person. And he or she was right: It's widely acknowledged that Peter Benchley modeled Quint on Brooklyn-born fisherman Frank Mundus, nicknamed the "Monster Man," and some accounts claim that the seed from which Jaws later sprang was planted when Benchley read a newspaper article about Mundus hauling in a huge great white shark off the coast of Long Island in the early 1960s.

Mundus says he took Benchley out on fishing trips and that Benchley was fascinated by the way he "harpooned huge sharks with lines attached to barrels to track the shark while it ran to exhaustion." But Benchley, who died in 2006 at the age of 64, never named Mundus - now in his early eighties - as his inspiration. In fact, he was known to actively deny it, a fact that apparently still rankles Mundus. "If he just would have thanked me," Mundus recently told the New York Times, "my business would have increased. Everything he wrote was true, except I didn't get eaten by the big shark. I dragged him in." Mundus has his own website, has been the subject of at least two books, and cowrote his autobiography, Fifty Years a Hooker, with his wife Jeanette.

Mundus retired to Hawaii in the early 1990s but recently returned to Long Island at the behest of sibling shark buffs Sean and Brooks Paxton, who are trying to set up a reality show at New Line Television. In what can hardly help but strike many as a piercing irony, Monster Man Mundus, worried by dwindling populations and the ever-smaller sharks sportfishermen were pulling in, is now a vocal conservationist who encourages catch-and-release fishing.

Question: I was wondering if you could help me with a movie title. I watched it when I was in elementary school, which would have been in the '80s. In the movie there was a "monster" in the middle of a lake, and at the end they discovered that it was actually a crane that would get the air built up underneath it and lift up. - Julie
You saw The Quest/ Frog Dreaming (1986), an Australian movie starring Henry Thomas, little Elliott of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Given the number of questions I get about it, it must have been shown regularly on TV in the 1980s. Though the film has never been released on DVD in the U.S., used videotapes aren't hard to find.

Question: I was recently listening to the song "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" in its entirety and trying to figure out what it means. Do you know if this song was originally written for a movie? - Tracey
"Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" was written by the legendary Broadway team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart for the 1941 show Pal Joey, adapted from the novel by John O'Hara. It was made into the 1957 film starring Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. The song is about the bittersweet experience of being a worldly, experienced older woman thrown into an erotic tizzy by someone totally sexy and so the person you shouldn't be involved with. Hence:

"I'm wild again/Beguiled again/A simpering, whimpering child again/Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I"


"Seen a lot/I mean I lot/But now I'm like sweet 17 a lot/Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I"


"When he talks he is seeking/Words to get off his chest/Horizontally speaking/He's at his very best."

Oh yeah, that guy.

"Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" has been covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Rufus Wainwright.

Question: Which Halloween movies do you recommend watching before the Rob Zombie version hits theaters on Aug. 31? Thanks! - Jason
Halloween (1978). I think the rest of them are crap and believe me, I saw every blessed one. In theaters. When they opened. Some have moments, but really, it's all downhill after John Carpenter's original, which made me afraid of being alone in my own house when I didn't even live in a house - I grew up in an apartment. And I was in college.

Fan though I was and am of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Halloween is the nightmare-maker. I should also say that while I see no need whatsoever for a Halloween 1.5, if anyone had to make one, I'm thrilled it's http:/ / www. tvguide. com/ celebrities/ rob-zombie/ 184861">Rob Zombie, who knows and loves horror films with the passion of a true believer and whose The Devil's Rejects (2005) I consider the best 1970s horror film made 30 years after the fact.

Question: I have been stumped about an old black-and-white movie about an alien spacecraft found in a cave. The aliens inside looked like 3-foot grasshoppers that had been in pods; there was even a part where they watched a recording on the ship of the alien grasshoppers jumping around on their planet. The ship gave off some radioactive electricity; there was a giant alien head that the main male character rode a giant crane boom into, grounding it and dying in the process. Any ideas? - Mike H.
Quatermass and the Pit/ Five Million Years to Earth (1968). The alien grasshoppers are discovered in a subway station - Hobbs End - that's undergoing renovation, and the ship is at first mistaken for an unexploded World War II bomb, not an uncommon occurrence in London more than 20 years after the end of WWII. The film is in color and there's no movie-within-the-movie of the aliens' hive life on their planet; what you're seeing is a psychic link established by modern-day scientist Barbara Shelley (of Hammer films fame). But you've got the gist. This was the third U.K. sci-fi feature built around the exploits of rocket scientist Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy in the first two, Anthony Quayle in the third), following the melancholy Quatermass Experiment/ The Creeping Unknown (1955) and the excoriating Quatermass II/ Enemy from Space (1957). I highly recommend all three, though the bleak, relentless cynicism of Quatermass II makes it my favorite.

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