If you were to ask me, “Caitlin, what area of film study truly drives you? Where do your expertise and passions lie?” The answer would be: Shark Movies. With the film adaptation of Steve Alten’s novel, “The Meg,” on the horizon, I’m getting amped up for some summer fun with teeth! Sunny days and poolside movie nights are perfect for taking in a good shark movie. To be honest, it’s one of the most versatile genres out there. You may laugh, but even an old film studies professor sat through my “Sharknado” manifesto so, trust me, there’s some merit there. (Yes, I have seen every movie on this list, plus some. Some of these titles I have even viewed multiple times.)
Want to stir up a frenzy for “The Meg?” Here’s our recommended watch list:
Can’t have a legitimate shark movie list without mentioning the OGW (Original Great White). This entry is a little bit of a cheat because I honestly recommend the entire franchise. Yes, even “Jaws: The Revenge.” “Jaws,” in particular, is an absolute icon. It’s not just a truly fantastic shark movie, it’s a hallmark of filmmaking. “Jaws” works on so many levels. It’s a masterfully put together film with great visual storytelling, one of the most famous film scores in the history of the universe, a great horror, and a classic that any movie buff worth their salt has seen countless times over.
And if you’re lucky enough to be living in Austin, Texas you won’t want to miss Alamo Drafthouse’s annual summer event, “Jaws on the Water.” Check out our recap from last year’s event here.
“Shark Night 3D”
“Shark Night 3D” straddles the (elegant?) line of pure horror flick and silly shark movie. All of the elements of a fun horror romp are there. It follows the formula of both horror and summer teen flick, quite well. It also has sharks in it. The premise is a little silly but the execution (and executions) are top notch! “Shark Night 3D” boasts much better effects than your average SyFy channel movie and has extremely inventive kills. “Shark Night 3D” fits as comfortably in a Halloween horror line-up as it does a summer movie night. To me, that’s a thing of beauty.
If I said that the title alone was enough to earn “Sharktopus” a place on this list, could you really blame me? This movie is BAD. It predates “Sharknado,” in the illustrious history of SyFy’s catalog of shark movies and could arguably be considered the granddaddy of the “bad shark movie” genre. One of my favorite elements in “Sharktopus” is that you can literally watch the film’s budget drain away, as the effects on the Sharktopus get progressively worse. This movie goes from silly to ridiculous in no time at all and, goddamn it, it’s so much fun.
No lie: I tracked this movie down to watch it after seeing a .gif of the Ghost Shark appearing on a slip n’ slide and eating a kid. “Ghost Shark” is laugh out loud funny. The kills are ridiculous, the story is flimsy at best, and SyFy delivers on those shoddy shark effects. None of that bothers me because it’s a frickin’ Ghost Shark.
“47 Meters Down”
This 2017 summer flick was an attempt at returning the shark back to the realm of fearsome natural predator. “47 Meters Down” committed to the thriller element and set up a truly terrifying scenario. We can go back and forth on how well it was executed, but the premise gives me anxiety to even recall it. Refreshingly, the sharks are not the stars of the show so much as an ominous presence adding even more terror to a horrifying situation. So how did “47 Meters Down” make the list? Because the shark effects are pretty good, and when the sharks are on screen they’re damn good.
“Deep Blue Sea”
Ah. The film that started a love affair. This was the first shark movie that I ever saw and a film that I frequently come back to when I’m hankerin’ for a bad shark movie. 1999 is a good vintage that packs in the cheese factor and makes “Deep Blue Sea” absolutely hilarious.
No explanation required. At this point, not having seen “Sharknado” outs you as living under a pop culture rock almost to the same extent as if you admitted to not having seen “Jaws.” We even saw Tara Reid and Ian Ziering talk about how they felt when they read the screenplay at Terror Expo back in 2016. Check that out here.
“Two-Headed Shark Attack”
What’s better than a one-headed shark attack? Definitely a “Two-Headed Shark Attack.” But it needs to stop there, “Three-Headed Shark Attack” (yes, it exists) was not a good movie. This entire film is built on dualities. We’ve got cheap computer animated effects with practical effects that are as terrifying as the concept of a two-headed shark. We’ve got fairly well thought out plot points (as much as you can expect from a movie called “Two-Headed Shark Attack”) mixed with a shark attack occurring when our victims are in waist-deep water. EXPLAIN TO ME HOW THE GIANT TWO-HEADED SHARK SNUCK UP ON YOU AT WADING DEPTH?! It’s a teen sex romp with a two-headed shark in it. If that doesn’t say “summer,” I don’t know what does.
“Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark”
I’ll keep this one brief. It is a giant Mega Shark that must be defeated. So a giant mechanical champion (Mecha Shark) must battle him to the death. Yes, there is a series. Precursors to “Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark” include: “Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus” and “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.” Movie magic, ladies and gentlemen.
You ever watch a shark movie and think, “Damn, there’s just too much water here”? Well, I’ve got good news for you…
If you can imagine it there’s a shark movie for it, which makes the genre constantly fresh and incredibly fun. So buckle up for some summer fun, stay out of the water, and countdown with us until “The Meg” cruises into theaters on August 10.
Featured image credit: Still from “47 Meters Down” | Photo courtesy of Dimension Films
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.