To Celebrate Shark Week, Let’s Remember The 5 Best Shark Movies Not Titled ‘Jaws’

Senior Contributor
08.05.13 25 Comments


When Jaws came out in 1975, it essentially created a new subgenre of horror movie: The shark movie. And since it’s Shark Week, and as such, we picked out the best of the lot, because some of these, in their own way, are pretty great. Even if that way is unintentional comedy.

We’re sticking solely to horror movies that involve sharks, and we’ll be ranking them from best to “best.” Also, we didn’t include Jaws because come on. You’ve seen it. Not all of these will stick to the shark movie formula (essentially, the plot of Jaws stretched beyond all credibility), but often that’s a good thing. Really, you’d think some of these mayors trying to keep a beach open would have seen a movie.

Open Water works as a horror movie, and as a shark movie, because it’s not trying to be Jaws. It’s a fairly grounded and plausible situation where being eaten by swimming razor blades is actually at least the quick death compared to slowly dying of thirst in the middle of the ocean. It could have used better actors, although to be fair it had to be cast on technical merits, but it’s something genuinely different in a crowded subgenre.

It’s also the sole movie on this list that’s scientifically accurate. The sharks are all actual animals, they all behave according to their instincts, and, in the biggest break from the genre, none of them are great whites.

Far, far too many horror movies desperately try to pretend they’re somehow serious dramas, or that most of the audience isn’t there to see horrible gory death. As a result, people try to take ridiculous concepts absolutely seriously and wind up delivering a movie that’s unintentionally funny, because nothing is funnier than people saying and doing stupid things absolutely seriously.

Thankfully, Deep Blue Sea was vividly aware of this problem, and dodges it by being honest with itself: A movie about superintelligent sharks is never going to win an Oscar. They firmly establish early on that yes, this is going to be a hilariously stupid thriller, and by God, it was going to be the best hilariously stupid thriller it could possibly be. Loosening up means they actually manage to cram a lot of fun, ridiculous moments into this movie, and it helps that the cast consists of people like Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, and Samuel L. Jackson, all of whom are surprisingly game for a movie this absurd.

Written by the director of the original Highlander, Bait makes the most of a silly concept; a bunch of people trapped in an Australian underground convenience store/parking garage after a tsunami hits have to try and get away from a very hungry and ticked-off great white. It’s mostly interesting because it plays its ridiculous concept with a straight face, and in a few places manages to pull it off largely thanks to the special effects. Also, the Australian film industry has a rich history of cheese, and it’s nice to see that in play here.

Somebody actually combines the standard tropes of crappy slasher movies and shark movies, to fairly hilarious results. Yes, the black guy does indeed die first; it’s that kind of movie. To the script’s credit, though, the reason the sharks are in this lake actually makes a kind of sense, although you really need to see that for yourself.

OK, so this movie is every bit as godawful as it looks. But admit it, you want to see it based on the title alone.

Any you’d sub in? Any you’d take out? Let us know in the comments.

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