The Movie Waffler 10 Essential Shark Movies | The Movie Waffler

10 Essential Shark Movies

We offer 10 must see man-eating movies.

Since Steven Spielberg’s Jaws took a chunk out of the box-office in 1975, shark films have become a genre in their own right. It’s because of the way they’re shown on screen that sharks have a reputation for being carnivorous killing machines, but in reality they generally only bite humans by accident. Whether you love them because they’re easy-to watch-popcorn thriller fodder or because you prefer entertainment over quality, shark films are here to stay.

The latest one to make noise is Shark Lake, featuring action icon Dolph Lundgren. In it, he plays a former black market trafficker who realises that the exotic species he’s released into the lake for safekeeping has begun to feast. He must find a way to stop the vicious attacks…

To celebrate the film’s release on DVD August 1st, we’ve waded into the water to list the best films that feature our predatory friends.

Jaws - 1975

The Academy Award-winning film by Steven Spielberg is often considered one of the greatest films ever made. The film tells the story of a man-eating great white shark that attacks beachgoers on a fictional island in New England. Roy Scheider plays police chief Martin Brody, who teams up with a marine biologist and professional shark hunter to hunt the animal. In a culture where shark films have become a mix of in-jokes and absurdity, Jaws stands out as the best, and with John Williams’ looming, ominous score, it’s firmly taken its place as one of Spielberg’s very best works.

Deep Blue Sea - 1999

When a businessman sinks $200 million into a special project to help fight Alzheimer’s disease, medical biologist Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) figures out a way to genetically enlarge shark brains to harvest the disease. As the sharks tire from being held in captivity and being poked and prodded, they break out of the facility and into the open sea. The film is responsible for one of the most gleefully unexpected death scenes in history, as well as spawning the line “Nature can be lethal, but it doesn’t hold a candle to man!”

Shark Attack - 1999

A marine biologist heads for Port Amanzi in Africa to search for his friend Marc DeSantis, who is supposedly a victim of a series of shark attacks in the area. DeSantis had been conducting research into shark attacks in the area and his friend takes up the research, only to realise that sharks may not be the only threat in the area. The film spawned two direct to video low-budget sequels, with the third film Shark Attack 3: Megalodon featuring a pre-Torchwood John Barrowman.

Open Water - 2003

Loosely based on the true story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, Open Water follows an American couple who find themselves stranded in the sea after a botched head count during a scuba diving holiday in the Caribbean. Little do they know they’re in the middle of shark-infested waters in the Great Barrier Reef, and must find a way to get back to shore. Crazily enough, no CGI was used in the film but actor Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis spent 120 hours in the water and the filmmakers used expert shark wrangler Stuart Cove to keep the real sharks at bay and things safe. The result is a haunting movie about a nightmare situation.

12 Days of Terror - 2005

Based on the Jersey Shore attacks of 1916, 12 Days of Terror recounts the days when people along the New Jersey coast were subject to a series of shark attacks. The authorities are reluctant to take action because they don’t want to put the people’s safety at risk, but eventually step in when the shark attacks a second time. This made-for-TV period docudrama isn’t your usual shark attack extravaganza, but instead covers the attacks with sensitivity.

Shark Night - 2011

When a group of college students arrive at Sara’s (Sara Paxton) family’s lake-island cabin, they prepare for a fun weekend in the sun. As they enjoy the calmness of the lake, football player Malik (Sinqua Walls) stumbles out of the water with a wound. Thinking he’s had a freak accident, the friends pile into a speedboat and head to the hospital. But to their horror, they discover they are not alone in the water, making this popcorn thriller an endurance test to see if they’ll survive. 

Bait 3D - 2012

When a tsunami hits the coast of Queensland, Australia, a group of people get trapped inside a supermarket. Being stuck in a supermarket becomes the least of their worries, however, as they must come up with a quick survival plan… the flood brings in hungry sharks. Reality isn’t a strong point here; some people get trapped in the underground car park but happen to have cars that allow them to sit there with no real danger. Nevertheless, this Australian-Singaporean horror is a 3D feast for genre fans.

Sharknado - 2013

When a freak tornado over the Los Angeles ocean causes a downpour of vicious sharks, Fin (played by ex Beverly Hills star Ian Ziering) teams up with his employee and their friend to track down his kids and ex-wife. The TV film, which was shot in 18 days is a cheerfully brainless romp that guarantees ridiculous laughs and countless flying man-eaters. The popularity of this instant hit resulted in two sequels: Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) and Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015). With a fourth on the way with Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016), this series’ lifetime seems indefinite.

The Shallows - 2016

Blake Lively dips her toe into the water in the Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax, 2005) directed film The Shallows. She plays traumatised surfer Nancy, who gets stranded 200 yards off the Mexican shore, finding herself on the dangerous feeding ground of a great white shark. Her survival proves to be a test of her wits, and must require her ingenuity and resourcefulness, if she wants to survive. The script was featured in the 2014 blacklist of ‘most liked’ unmade scripts, and puts a refreshing spin on the age-old damsel in distress narrative.

Shark Lake - 2016

Action star Dolph Lundgren takes on the lead role of Clint Gray in Shark Lake, as a man who returns home after having served a prison sentence for black-market animal trafficking. He finds that the exotic species he previously released into serene Lake Tahoe has begun feasting on the sun-seeking locals. The vicious attacks prompt a dedicated local cop to investigate what exactly is preying on her beloved quiet town. She sets out to stop the threat at any cost, finding help in the form of an unlikely hero. Combining all the fun of pitting a bloodthirsty shark against a muscular performance from Lundgren with plenty of gore, Shark Lake proves once again that it’s still not safe to go in the water...

Shark Lake is released on DVD courtesy of Soda Pictures on 1st August.