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In the ocean, they have no rival. And on cable, they have their own week. Our fascination
with sharks has given filmmakers endless opportunities to prey on audiences' fears, turning this
oft-misunderstood prehistoric species into a bloodthirsty killing machine—even if you're
not in the water. Sharks in the desert, sharks in space, sharks in a tornado, or sharks who
come back from the dead to haunt you in your backyard...shark movies are now firmly embedded
as their own subgenre. Let's take a look at some of our most beloved movies starring Hollywood's
favorite maneater.
Shark Night 3D
If you were a teenager in a movie, why would you ever go to a lake? Nothing good ever happens
there. That goes double if you're trapped on an island with no cell service, and your
ex-boyfriend and his buddy fill the water with sharks so they can film the carnage.
Despite some neat twists, slick production values for the genre, and Sara Paxton and
Katherine McPhee in bikinis, Shark Night 3D was ultimately sunk by a PG-13 rating and
near comical death scenes. But hey, at least the dog survives.
Open Water
The premise? Pure nightmare fuel. A couple on a scuba diving vacation are accidentally
left behind (with a lot of sharks) when their boat crew forgets about them. While the film
is more of an exercise in psychological horror and focuses on the broken relationship between
the two main characters, the constant and palpable fear that a shark may strike at any
time makes Open Water one of the most terrifying shark movies in recent memory. The only happy
ending? It made ten times more than its $500,000 budget.
Deep Blue Sea
If you can ignore a premise that involves scientists thinking Mako sharks are, like,
the best cure for Alzheimer's disease...because sharks' brains don't age, apparently...you
can appreciate this outrageously fun B-movie. It's got genetically altered, super-smart
sharks going HAM—that's "hard as a Mako, friend"—in an underwater research facility.
And if that weren't enough for our team of scientists to worry about, the screenwriters
threw in an impending hurricane...just because. Boasting incredible CGI for its time and Samuel
L. Jackson chewing up all the scenery the sharks left behind, Deep Blue Sea has earned
cult-classic status.
Plus, you can't beat that LL Cool J rap theme:
(music playing)
Pure magic.
You have to at least give the Australian production Bait a few points for originality. The last
thing you'd expect after a freak tsunami is sharks swimming down the frozen food section
at your local grocery store, which by some miracle still has electricity. Yet here they
are—and they're the most believable thing in the movie. You can tell everyone involved
really tried to make something serious here, but how serious can it be when the hero takes
out a great white with a taser? This would probably be considered a classic by now if
the filmmakers had been a bit more self-aware and called it Sharks in a Grocery Store. Chalk
that up to a missed opportunity. If a group of mildly annoying survivors trapped in a
supermarket with sharks is your thing, be sure to add this to your queue.
The Reef
Another classic from Australia, 2010's The Reef proved that you don't need a big budget
or a convoluted plot to give your audience legit scares. The tale of five friends who
set out for Indonesia only to capsize on a reef is an exercise in hopelessness. Do they
stay with the boat and risk the very real possibility of dying of thirst and exposure?
Or attempt swimming to shore in shark-infested waters? No unnecessary CGI, no cliched tropes,
just people in the water…slowly being eaten alive, one by one. Delicious.
Soul Surfer
Real-life events can be difficult to dramatize, but the true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton
getting her left arm ripped off by a tiger shark, and her subsequent struggle to surf
again, was a story made for celluloid. Based on Hamilton's 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer:
A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, it didn't blow critics
away. But found a home among audiences who like their shark attacks with an inspirational
message of hope. Of course, for the audiences who have no need for dumb things like hope
or inspiration, there's...
Syfy's Sharknado knows full well that it's a movie about, well, a shark tornado, and
it embraces that insane premise with every frame. In between the actors winking at the
camera, Sharknado gives you some of the most outrageous and over-the-top sharks to ever
hit the big screen. Running down the B-movie checklist (and marking off many items more
than once), this movie can even be considered a work of art considering the glorious lengths
it takes to not take itself seriously. The dialogue is almost as bad as the color correction,
the character development is more unbelievable than the plot, and the CGI is almost as painful
as the one-liners. But you know what? It works. It delivers in every way possible. If you
don't like Sharknado, you don't like fun.
Blue Water, White Death
The only documentary on our list, Blue Water, White Death follows filmmaker and underwater
photojournalist Peter Gimbel's arduous nine-month trek across the globe to capture a great white
shark on film for the very first time. And where did he find one? Right where he probably
shoulda started: South Australia. With spellbinding footage, Gimbel shows us the legendary great
white in its full (and terrifying) glory. Fun fact: Crew members Ron and Valerie Taylor
provided Steven Spielberg with great white footage for Jaws. Speaking of which...
The opening sequence of Steven Spielberg's Jaws boasts the most terrifying shark attack
ever filmed…and you never even see the shark. The sense of building dread as you watch Police
Chief Brody try—and repeatedly fail—to convince officials in his coastal town to
close the beach during peak tourist season is enough to make you never want to set foot
in an ocean again. John Williams' iconic score will make you pause before entering a pool.
We won't even mention the classic lines, because you know them all.
Okay, maybe just one…
"You're gonna need a bigger boat."
So good. Of course, a movie this good just has to have a sequel, right?
Jaws 2
"Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water"
...now that's a tagline for a sequel. A sequel, we might add, that Roy Scheider only agreed
to star in to get out from under his contract at Universal. It's debatable whether even
Spielberg could have saved the script for Jaws 2. And you'd think Amity's mayor would
be more inclined to listen to Police Chief Brody when he cries "shark!" this time around.
But despite not coming close to the original, Jaws 2 does offer up some scary moments. As
well as perhaps the greatest shark electrocution death scene in movie history:
"Watch out!"
"Come on! Come on! Open wide! Open wide! Say aahhhh!"
Well...not that there are too many shark electrocution death scenes to choose from, but you get the
Seriously, though, no matter how many bad sequels it spawned, the original Jaws is without
a doubt the greatest shark movie of all time—past, present, and future. Maybe it's time we stop
making them. After we get Sharknado 4, of course.
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10 Best Shark Movies

113 Folder Collection
naomi published on August 11, 2020
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