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Sure, summer’s great and all, but what about the sweltering heat, gnarly mosquito bites, and nasty sunburns? Let’s not forget: sharks. They’re everywhere. In the oceans, in lakes, and in our bathtubs. At least, that’s often the premise of a lot of camp, horror flicks these days. Summer is, of course, the season of the shark movie. There are classics, like Jaws, which may have turned you off swimming forever, and recent successes like The Shallows, which convinced you sharks are vengeful, thinking creatures. And we can’t forget about the weird chaos that became the entire Sharknado franchise, either.
They’re not all great, we’ll admit, but that’s part of the fun. These films simply tap into a deep-seated fear in all of us: the fear of the unknown. When we’re floating out on the ocean, we’re entirely defenseless and without any sense of a threat until, well, it decides to make its presence known. And the best shark flicks, the ones that keep us up at night, are the ones that make you feel like a shark is looming in the distance, even when you’re nowhere near an ocean. That’s the magic of a really terrifying horror movie. Even when you’re perfectly safe, they still manage to make you feel less so.
In case your binge-watch well is running a little dry, here are 20 of the best shark movies you can to add to your list right now.
The godfather of all shark movies, Jaws was a film marvel at the time of its release in 1975. And if you really feel like diving (hehe) into the world of Jaws’ Amity Island, you can also check out Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, and Jaws: The Revenge.
Poor Nancy just wanted to have a fun day surfing, but a great white shark had another idea. Fun fact: Blake Lively did most of her own stunts in the movie, which is impressive on its own, but she was also a couple of months pregnant during filming.
The Reef, like many of its shark flick counterparts, starts innocently enough. A group of five friends embark on a water-bound voyage to chart a yacht to its owner and decide to anchor near a tiny island. And then all goes wrong. Very wrong. So wrong you should probably stop reading this and get to it already.
You’ll rethink booking that picturesque overwater bungalow on Airbnb after watching a tropical storm strand married couple Jaelyn (Alicia Silverstone) and Kyle (James Tupper) in the middle of the sea before they have to fight for their lives against a gang of great white sharks. Silverstone fends off bloodthirsty sharks while waging her own internal battles with herself after suffering a traumatizing stillbirth in a film about the power of perseverance at sea.
If regular ol’ sharks just aren’t enough for you, you’ll be happy to know that The Meg‘s shark is actually a pre-historic 75-foot-long beast known as the Megalodon. Also, Jason Statham is involved. Happy watching.
Bait, a 2012 Australian-Singaporean film, perhaps sets up the most unique of premises in a movie involving people-hungry sharks. The movie follows a bunch of grocery store workers who are forced to cope with a sudden tsunami that floods the store with, you guessed it, sharks. The movie doesn’t really make all that much sense, but we love it anyway.
From flying to a place called “Hell’s Reef” to searching for a random dead man’s likely dead girlfriend in shark-infested waters, Great White shows what happens when you stick your nose where it doesn’t belong. 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden as Kaz Fellows fights off sharks while pregnant in a horror film that’ll frustrate you as much as it’ll haunt your nightmares.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Shark Night 3D is a ridiculous movie. There are sharks chasing jet skis and just a whole of dumb college kids doing dumb things, played, of course, by actors in their 20s and 30s. Barring all of this, we still recommend it. Why? Sometimes, you need a little bad in your life to recognize the good.
This movie is…not good. Sharks cannot merge with tornadoes. Sharks cannot roar like lions. Sharks cannot latch onto your getaway helicopter. And yet, there is still something rather endearing about Sharknado and its five unnecessary sequels.
Maybe sharks are misunderstood, and we humans are the true villains of the sea. That’s the idea posed in the 1976 thriller Mako: The Jaws of Death, which centers around Sonny Stein (Richard Jaeckel) having his life saved by sharks and pledging to kill anyone who threatens his underwater friends. Stein can telepathically communicate with sharks and not be harmed by them, thanks to a medallion gifted to him by a Filipino shaman in a film that is both ridiculous and surprisingly touching.
Imagine a world, if you will, of nothing but sharks. That’s what Planet of the Sharks tried to do, and boy, did they try. In an apparent distant future, glacial melting has resulted in a world filled with 98% water (so, not all that far off from the premise set forth in the Kevin Costner-led Waterworld). Naturally, sharks have become the top of the food chain and humans are just trying to survive. It’s free to stream if you have Amazon Prime, so there’s that.
Forget about Nemo and Dory. This is actually a movie about shark redemption, a commitment to a new diet, and making friends. And while yes, those sharks did try to eat the other cute little fish, it shows that we all fall down, but we can still get up.
You can file this film under “The Crazy Things Greed Will Make Men Do.” In Sharks’ Treasure, four men carrying their own personal baggage come face to fins with killer sharks, all in the pursuit of a treasure sunken off the coast of Honduras. The film is one of the first to take viewers underwater among actual sharks, meaning real lives were risked for a fake treasure hunt.
It bombed at the box-office, but Dark Tide‘s redeeming quality is Oscar winner Halle Berry’s impassioned performance. Shark expert Kate (Berry) is traumatized by her husband’s death during a diving trip. But with bills piling up, she takes on a high-paying job to bring a thrill-seeker to “Shark Alley.”
If you like Sharknado, you’ll love this film. When a tsunami hits Australia, shoppers in a supermarket realize they’re stuck with a 12-foot Great White shark in the remaining water. It’s ridiculous enough that it’s worth a watch.
What’s worse than a regular shark? One that spews toxic acid from its mouth. This film will give you all the unrealistic shark deaths you could ask for, including one where a woman is ripped off a horse.
If anyone could get a shark in Lake Tahoe, it’s the indomitable Dolph Lundgren playing a black market dealer named Clint Gray. If you can suspend your disbelief (and everything you learned in grade school about sharks), you’ll come away with a thrilling look into the deadly consequences of when humans think they can do a better job than Mother Nature.
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