There is something so terrifying about the idea of a man-eating shark swimming around underneath us when we are already out of our element. The idea is so scary that they have made scores of movies fostering the idea that every shark in the ocean is out to get you. Not every shark movie is a gem. In fact, most will make you feel like you wasted an hour and thirty minutes of your life that could have been used to cure cancer or something of that nature. I have compiled a list of the best shark movies to watch this summer to remind yourself why dry land is so much better than the ocean.
Leading with any movie other than Jaws would severely damage my credibility. Jaws is one of those rare movies that even those who don’t like horror have seen and, dare I say, loved. The movie, based off of a book of the same name, is about a giant man-eating shark terrorizing a small island off of the New York coast. The sheriff of the town, a local fisherman, and a marine biologist are tasked to catch and kill the shark before it can claim another life. This Spielberg classic is a criterion film not just for the horror genre, but for films in general.
The idea behind Bait is a premise so stupid, so idiotic, that there is no way it can be good, yet, it is. Bait is not only a good shark movie, but it is also one of the best that I have ever seen. A group of people who would never find themselves together under normal circumstances end up trapped together in a flooded grocery store after a tsunami. Unfortunately for them, they are not alone. A duo of 14-ft. great white sharks have also found their way into the store, and they are hungry. Again, I know how stupid it sounds, and there is exactly one actor that U.S. audiences may recognize, but this film somehow manages to be entertaining.
When a movie stars Dolph Lundgren, it’s usually a safe bet that you will find it in the $5 bin; I don’t have anything against Dolph, that’s just how it goes. So, when I saw that he starred in a movie called Shark Lake, I was sure that I was going to relegate this to a movie one step above Sharknado. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this movie, while not at Jaws level, is pretty decent. It follows Lundgren’s character, who is an ex-con who went to prison for smuggling exotic animals. On his last run before he got caught, he accidentally released a bull shark into the lake of a small town. Now it is his job to take care of the shark while trying to stay out of trouble. The plot has less to do with the shark than a normal shark movie, but the fish still gets plenty of screen time. This is a newer movie so, even though it is a B movie, the graphics are a lot better than some older creature features.
Shark Night 3D
Shark Night was critically panned, but I want a sequel. I love the whole idea of Shark Night; a group of hillbillies starts collecting sharks to put in their saltwater lake for nefarious reasons. I have watched every single shark movie ever made, and I have never seen an idea as inventive as this one. It also allows viewers to be terrorized by a plethora of sharks vs. one or two great whites. The movie stars the great Donal Logue along with a lot of young faces that you may recognize from here or there. This movie went to theaters, and while it could always be better, the graphics were pretty damn good for a shark flick. The fact that it even went to theaters to begin with is probably why it got such poor attention from the critics. If you are a fan of the creature feature, this is a must see this summer and throughout the year.
Deep Blue Sea
Deep Blue Sea came to us at a time when there was a serious drought in creature features. I remember being a wee lad of 15 and begging my friend’s mom to take us to see it – which she did and then regretted. Though it is not a perfect movie, Deep Blue Sea may be one of the best shark movies of all time. It has a decent plot, they actually address shark movie clichés, like the fact that the sharks can’t swim backwards, and it has a decent body count to boot. If you haven’t seen Deep Blue Sea yet it stars Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, and Samuel L. Jackson, so that right there tells you that it has to be better than a Syfy original. A group of people on an ocean research station are terrorized by three overgrown Mako sharks which seem to be smarter than nature intended. The group is trapped in the lower levels of the station and desperately fighting water and shark alike to get to the safety of the surface.
For some strange reason, Australians really know how to make a shark movie. The only problem with that is that they don’t get the proper attention they deserve in the U.S. market. The Reef is hands down one of the best shark movies of all time and will make you never want to go into the water again. This film is everything that Open Water wished it could be. When a group on friend’s boat gets stranded in the middle of the ocean, they decide to go for help instead of waiting to be found. What they don’t know is that they are being stalked by nature’s most perfect predator. This film will have you on the edge of your seat and may even make you afraid to take a shower.
It is not often that a Syfy original movie would make a list of best shark movies, but this one came out of left field as a decent movie sandwiched in between a lot of schlock in Syfy’s 2016 Sharknado week. A group of researchers in Greenland fall prey to a rare breed of shark as the ice melts. The thing that stands out to me the most about this movie is the fact that the filmmakers did their research. They found a real breed of shark, they wrote in actual characteristics of that shark, and they wrote a story that was a lot more believable than most of the movies on this list. It wasn’t until after the movie had ended that I realized that I had stopped everything I was doing to pay attention to it, which is not a common occurrence.
For my money, I didn’t think that The Shallows was all that great, but it was a lot better than what some companies have tried to pass off as a decent shark flick. It’s about a young woman dealing with the loss of her mom by living out one of her mother’s favorite memories. What should be an ideal day of surfing turns into a nightmare when a rogue great white shark attacks. From there the movie is woman versus creature as she tries to survive in the shark’s world. Much of this film is unbelievable, but the movie was a major theatrical release, so at least the graphics are on point.
There are so many shark movies out there that this list could easily be 50 entries long, but quality tends to be an issue from this point on. Of course, if you are looking for more, you could check out the Jaws sequels or the Shark Attack series. Two promising shark movies of the future include 47 Meters Down, which comes out June 16, 2017, and Meg, which will be released sometime in 2018. This Jason Statham film has been in talks for almost a decade and is based on a book of the same name. I think Meg is going to be one of the best ever, but only time will tell.