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For the Portuguese wine grape, see Tintorera (grape).
Tintorera poster.jpg
US theatrical poster
Directed by René Cardona Jr
Produced by Gerald Green
Written by René Cardona Jr
Starring Susan George
Hugo Stiglitz
Andrés García
Fiona Lewis
Music by Basil Poledouris
Cinematography Ramón Bravo
Distributed by United Film Distribution Company
Release dates
  • 1977 (1977)
Running time
85 minutes
Uncut version: 126 minutes
Country Mexico
Language Spanish

Tintorera is a 1977 Mexican horror film directed by René Cardona Jr and starring Susan George, Hugo Stiglitz, Fiona Lewis and Andrés García. It is based on the novel of the same name by oceanographer Ramón Bravo that studied the species of shark known as "tintorera" (a 19 ft shark) and discovered the sleeping sharks of Isla Mujeres. The film, along with many monster movies of the 1970s and 1980s is very similar to Jaws. It is also known by the alternative title Tintorera: Killer Shark.


Steven (Hugo Stiglitz), a US-born Mexican businessman, arrives in a Mexican fishing/resort village for a vacation on a yacht anchored off shore. One of the local fishermen and the caretaker of the yacht, Colorado (Roberto Guzmán), takes Steven with him when he goes to haul in the sharks he has caught. Colorado is annoyed to learn that another shark has taken a huge bite out of one of his captured sharks. Steven says he feels bad for the sharks, then shrugs, "that's life". He then decides to scope to local beaches for sexy women. He sets his sights on Patricia (Fiona Lewis), an Englishwoman on vacation. They have a whirlwind romance but break up when Steven can't decide if he is in love with her. Steven is extremely jealous, however, when she begins a relationship with Miguel (Andrés García) a womanizing swimming instructor at the nearby resort hotel. While Steven stews on the yacht, Patricia and Miguel have sex. Then she goes skinny dipping in the ocean for a morning swim and is eaten by a large, apparently emphysemic, 19-foot-long (5.8 m) tiger shark.

The next day, Steven confronts Miguel in the hotel bar. Miguel tells Steven that Patricia was in love with Steven but she must have returned to England. Neither Steve or Miguel ever learn about her true fate. Miguel introduces Steven to two sisters, Kelly and Cynthia Madison (Jennifer Ashley and Laura Lyons) who are American college students who have arrived on the island resort for some fun. They have a double date and, on the sisters' suggestions, swim to the yacht for some skinny-dipping. The shark's heavy, labored breathing can clearly be heard but they make it to the boat safely. Kelly and Cynthia hop back and forth between Miguel's and Steven's beds. They all swim back to shore the next morning and the submerged tiger shark again chooses not to bother them.

Miguel encourages Steven to live a carefree, womanizing life like he does. Steven agrees. They even start a shark hunting business, swimming out to sea and shooting whatever swims past them, from local blue sharks to lemon sharks. Miguel tells Steven that if a tiger shark ever appears, they must immediately get out of the water because tiger sharks or tintoreras are too dangerous to even attempt to hunt.

One night, Miguel and Steven meet Gabriella (Susan George) another young English tourist at the hotel bar. The three of them decide to have a triad: Gabriella will be sexually involved with both of them, but they won't fall in love with her, or she with them. They tour the local Mayan archaeological sites together, then retire back to the yacht for sex. Miguel and Steven take Gabriella shark hunting with them. She is appalled by what they do, but admits her feelings for them have become powerful, and as such apparently forgets her distaste. The next time the three go shark hunting, the large tiger shark appears and rips Miguel in half. Steven is bummed out, but Gabriella is so upset that she decides to leave Cancún and return to England.

Steven vows revenge on the shark. He enlists the local coast guard and fishermen in a campaign to kill the tiger shark and seemingly every other shark in the sea. Colorado is disturbed that Steven viciously beats the sharks that he has caught with a club. "I hate the bastards", Steven tells him. Colorado assures him that so many sharks have been killed, the tiger shark must have been one of them. Meanwhile, unbeknown to Steven or Colorado, the tiger shark attacks another small fishing boat and eats two fishermen.

Steven goes to a nighttime beach party with Kelly, Cynthia and two other American women he met in a bar (Priscilla Barnes and Pamela Garner). After the party ends, Kelly and Cynthia suggest everyone skinny dip again. This time, however, the tiger shark attacks, ripping Cynthia from Steven's arms as he tries to make out with her in the water as well as injuring the other two women, both of whom safely make it ashore. Steven contacts Mr. Madison (Carlos East) who comes to the village to collect Kelly. Steven vows to kill the shark himself.

That evening, Steven lures the shark with a devilfish he has speared for the occasion, and when he hears the shark's rasping approach shoots it with a speargun which has an explosive capsule on the tip. The shark rips off Steven's arm but is finally destroyed by the explosive, which detonates it in a large underwater blast of blood and guts.

Steven awakens in a hospital room, sans his right arm, thinking happy thoughts about his triad with Gabriella and Miguel.


Priscilla Barnes, unknown at the time, appeared towards the end of the film as a party girl who is in a group that encounters the shark during night swimming.

The shark in the film was a Tiger Shark; although Tintorera is a common name in Spanish for Tiger Shark, in some countries (Spain) it is a common name for Blue Shark. Tintorera is also the term in Spanish used when referring to a female shark.

Locations were filmed at Isla Mujeres a resort island near Cancún. The now well known Cancun did not exist at that time (1977), at least not in the way as today. All the underwater scenes were filmed with live sharks using the submarine expertise of Ramón Bravo.

As a curiosity due to the censure imposed by the Mexican government at those time, there were edited two versions of the film; the one the so-called uncut version with plenty of explicit nudity of the starring actors and actresses, mainly for the foreign market; the other version a cut one with a lot of censored scenes because of the nudity, was for domestic (Mexican) exhibition; nowadays it is possible to find both versions on DVD.

Early English dubs in theaters and on Video actually featured the voices of Susan George and Fiona Lewis, both of whom were the two British tourists in the film. However, this dub was later lost to history and a new one was created with American voice actresses, which was the one used on the DVD.

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