Jaws is the most successful ‘horror’ movie of all time. Adjusted for inflation, it also comes in at number seven for all genres of movie*. The film is 124 minutes long. But guess when the shark first makes it full appearance? 80 minutes into the film. So, for most the movie, we just hear about the shark, which is what makes it so scary.
I initially believed this suspense was due to the genius of Steven Spielberg. However, it turns out that during filming they had mechanical problems with the model shark, so they kept having to delay its appearance in the movie. This unexpected event led to what makes Jaws so good.
* All-time US box office grosses adjusted for inflation: 1. Gone With the Wind, 2. Star Wars, 3. The Sound of Music, 4. ET, 5. Titanic, 6. The Ten Commandments, 7. Jaws, 8. Doctor Zhivago, 9. The Exorcist, 10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs