Take a Bite Out of the Box Office: Favorite Shark Movies Part 1
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  • Author: Marina K Blake
  • Press: Shark Magazine
  • Date: Wednesday, 07 September 2016

It's two months until Halloween, and I cannot wait any longer to start my scary movie marathons. I know, I know--sharks aren't technically a villain, but it's so much fun to watch them wreak havoc on unsuspecting swimmers! Like many people, my very first big screen shark was Jaws. I remember watching the film in absolute wonder, terror, and awe. I loved the smart scientist, a dedicated police officer, and the dumb kids who just wouldn't listen when they hollered for them to get out of the water. Even though I knew it was ridiculous, I also knew I was addicted. Since then, I've made it a point to see every single shark movie that comes out: the good, the bad, and the total chum-bait.

Even though it isn't quite the haunting season yet, I'm counting down my favorite scary shark movies. Sadly, sharks have regularly gotten the short end of the cinema stick. They're typically poorly rendered made-for-TV schlock, completely ignoring the innate power, grace, and fear of the magnificent creatures. Why give them three heads and make them radioactive when real life sharks are already pretty menacing? I mean, sure--it's fun. It really is. But it means my list has very few quality flicks and a lot of silly trash on it. So pop some corn, snuggle into your safe, dry, couch and get ready to take a bite out of date night with my favorite shark movies of all time.

DEEP BLUE SEA

How many shark movies have their own theme rap, complete with an absolutely ludicrous video by none other than LL Cool J? Just one, and that's really all you need. Clocking it an 105 ridiculous minutes, Deep Blue Sea was inspired by a shark attack victim screenwriter Duncan Kennedy saw wash up on the beach. He began having nightmares about being trapped in a tunnel with a shark who could read his mind. And hence a film about three genetically modified sharks who hunt said scientists because they are really super smart and also really into killing scientists I guess? Look, it doesn't matter--here is why you watch Deep Blue Sea: it's hilarious. Samuel L. Jackson gets dragged into the water during a dramatic speech and it just gets worse/better from there.

OPEN WATER

What Deep Blue Sea gives us in actual insanity, Open Water makes up for it in actual terror. What The Blair Witch Project did for the woods, Open Water does for the ocean. It follows a couple who go on a scuba diving trip to rekindle their relationship (classic premise, naturally) and ends with...well, it ends exactly the way you'd imagine a couple stuck in the middle of a shark attack ends. But what Open Water does brilliantly is build the tension. The couple are accidentally left behind in open water, while the rest of their scuba group heads off to drink out of coconuts or whatever. The next 60 or so minutes is tense, nail biting drama as sharks, jellyfish, and dehydration set in. The claustrophobic, intimate terror of a realistic situation is heightened by survival instincts, resulting in a sharp, scary thriller.

THE REEF

Yeah, it's kinda similar to Open Water--but look, there are only so many reasonable variables in shark movies. The genius of The Reef is found in director Andrew Traucki's ability to lead an ensemble cast through the events. There is a cohesion among the characters, and enough likability to care when one of their legs is severed. Unlike Open Water, The Reef follows a group of people who have just survived their yacht capsizing just twelve miles from an island--an easy enough swim, if you aren't being stalked by a Great White shark! Not only is The Reef legitimately horrific, but it's shot so beautifully, really embracing the natural surroundings...and decapitated turtles.

BAIT

Based on the synopsis alone, this movie is an unqualified success: "A grocery store robbery is interrupted by a freak tsunami which water logs the store and traps a hungry great white shark in there with the survivors." I'm already asking questions--how did the shark travel into the grocery store? How did the water stay so level? Where exactly are we again? This is what film professionals refer to as "an immediate hook." Get it? Pun intended. But really, as ridiculous as this premise is, there is more to Bait than just an improbably shark. It's actually a well done movie, and did well enough in box offices to garner a sequel called Deep Water. Sadly, the sequel was suspended based on what was described as "uncomfortable similarities" to the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Yeah, I dunno either.

So that's the start of my list! Stay tuned for September's additions as I count down my favorite briny blockbusters and be sure to include your own in the comments. And hey, if you have a minute to spare, do yourself a favor and go watch the Deep Blue Sea rap. It will make your day.

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