Warning: These 26 Shark Movies Will Make You Avoid the Water Forever
Admit it: most (read: all) of us are at least a little (read: A LOT) scared of deep-sea swimming (represent!). And a lot of that’s probably because your mom let you stay up late and watch all those shark attack movies you weren’t supposed to. Thanks, mom!!!
Anyway, anyone who’s seen even 10 minutes of Shark Week knows that sharks don’t just start attacking humans randomly. They usually stick to sicking their fangs into their fish neighbors. And they will never—probs, I’m guessing—attack until provoked or threatened (cute, but tell that to my ever-present nightmares).
Hollywood doesn’t care though. There’s always going to be some bikini-clad A-lister who lives somewhere near water. Dramatic music plays. And then bam! Shark comes out of nowhere and bites their legs off. Sounds familiar? That’s ALL the movies.
But that doesn’t mean they have to be bad (or, at the very least, boring). Sharks now run in shallow water (come through for Jurassic Shark), sand (Sand Sharks, yep) and can become zombies (Zombie Shark). Oh, and let’s not forget the tornadoes (Sharnado, ze classic), ghosts (Ghost Shark) and fossils-come-to-life (The Meg-like). There’s a shark movie for every person. And here are some of the most excitingly inane and bone-chilling shark flicks that’ll probably make you rethink that spring break cruise.
1. Jaws 2
Horror *legend* Jaws had no business becoming a franchise. That said, Jaws 2 isn’t…that bad. Another shark starts attacking the beach and now there are kids and teens involved. Say what you want, it’s still better than the computer animated horror-inducing mess that the other Jaws sequels were.
2. Dark Tide
Poor, poor Halle Berry. In Dark Tide, Halle is a “shark whisperer” who can’t go back into the water after a diver was killed on her watch. And now she’s taking a millionaire and his son on a shark dive. This movie wanted to be emotionally heavy. But, um, yeah.
3. Shark Attack
Honestly, I’m still not sure what this movie is about. A shark that was used for research starts killing people, but a marine biologist thinks it’s a weird conspiracy? There’s a lot of going on. This movie is so bad. But I love it, because it’s so bad.
This is dedicated to my fellow Planet Earth stans. The documentary filmmaker takes us through the waters of some of the most beautiful places on Earth, while busting myths about sharks and helping us realize how important for the ecosystem they really are.
5. Tintorera: Killer Shark
This is less shark horror, more soft porno. An American businessman in Mexico falls for an English woman. But then he has to share her with a swimming instructor. And the shark starts killing them one by one, right after they have…a threesome. The shark comes through and kills the characters just as they get annoying, though, so props to that bad boy!
6. Jurassic Shark
I’m pretty much ded every time I watch this movie—it’s just tragic in every sense of the word. There’s a shark (apparently that can swim in knee-deep water) that was awakened after millions of years of slumber, cool. But then it looks like a blow-up doll and it kills people by making them explode and only leaving the stumps of their legs. This movie makes me want to meet one.
Jaws has the fine distinction of being not only the greatest shark movie ever made but also one of the greatest horror movies ever made. No matter that fake-shark technology has advanced about a million percent over the past 40 years—Jaws is still terrifying enough that you wouldn’t want to watch it during a beach vacation. And it definitely helps that John Williams’s score is so iconic that it conjures doom no matter where you are when you hear it.
8. The Shallows
The premise of this movie is ridiculous—beautiful girl goes surfing alone in a secluded cove, ends up on a rock fighting for survival before the tide comes in—but the execution is flawless. Every single piece of Blake Lively’s wardrobe becomes useful in her fight against the murderous great white that wants to eat her for dessert (a whale carcass is dinner), and Blake’s costar, Steven Seagull, truly deserved an Oscar.
9. Deep Blue Sea
In this 1999 treasure, scientists accidentally engineer shark brains so that sharks are smarter and more dangerous, thus making it problematic when they start escaping from the research pens and attacking people. This movie is recommended for those of you who saw Snakes on a Plane and thought, Hmm, I wonder what it’s like to watch Samuel L. Jackson fight sharks instead.
10. Open Water
This horror show is based partially on the true story of a couple left to fend for themselves in the open ocean after the rest of their scuba-diving expedition forgot them. What happened to the real people remains a mystery, but Open Water’s characters meet a very, um, definitive end.
Say what you will about the quality of this cult favorite, but there’s no question it revived the public’s interest in intentionally bad made-for-TV movies. The title says it all, but just to make it super clear: Los Angeles gets hit by a cyclone that causes shark-filled water spouts all over the city. You’ll laugh until you remember the movie was such a hit that it spawned a zillion sequels.
12. The Reef
After their boat capsizes, a group of friends attempt to rescue themselves by swimming through open water to get to the nearest land. Unfortunately, that water turns out to be home to a shark who’s not that willing to share his territory with these human swimmers, and chaos ensues. And that’s why you never agree to get on a boat!
13. Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus
Is this movie bad? Yes. But does it feature a humongous shark fighting a humongous octopus? Yes, so I fail to see the problem.
14. Shark Night
This film asks the question, “What if sharks lived in saltwater lakes and ate people for sport?” The answer is blood. Lots of blood.
15. Ghost Shark
The only thing scarier than a living shark is a dead shark that comes back to life and decides to eat you. In the titular ghost shark’s defense, though, it is only dead because a human decided to torture and kill it. Its victims kind of had it coming, you know?
16. Blue Water, White Death
Finally, something a *little* bit less sensational. This 1971 documentary follows the quest to film a great white shark underwater for the first time. The doc doesn’t exactly diminish the shark’s reputation as a killer, but it’s an interesting tale nonetheless.
17. Sand Sharks
It’s sharks, but they swim through sand instead of water. Makes perfect sense.
18. 47 Meters Down
In this 2017 gem, two sisters (hi, Mandy Moore!!) are on vacation in Mexico when they decide to go shark diving with some sketchy dudes they meet in a bar. Naturally, the chain holding their shark cage breaks, so they get stuck—wait for it—47 meters down and must fight off the bends, faulty air tanks, and, yes, a giant shark.
19. The Meg
This movie features Jason Statham fighting a 2-million-year-old megalodon! It is literally perfect. Also, it’s based on a book that has sequels, which means this could end up being a franchise. God bless.
20. Avalanche Sharks
In case the title didn’t make it clear, Avalanche Sharks is about a bunch of sharks atop a snowy mountain that spend their time murdering skiers. And watching it made me realize that the best genre of shark movie is “SURPRISE, SHARKS ARE ON ON LAND NOW.” We are not worthy of this creative genius.
21. Zombie Shark: The Swimming Dead
Wow, what did we do to deserve this? This being a zombie shark movie, of course. But don’t get it twisted: The premise of Zombie Shark isn’t that sharks are turning into zombies. It’s that shark bites are turning humans into zombies. It’s the genre mash-up we never knew we needed.
First of all, this movie was released in 3-D, which, yes please. But also, the plot is so extra: A bunch of hot people are chilling in a grocery store when a tsunami hits and floods the building. Unfortunately, a great white shark is washed into the store—ugh, hate when that happens—and proceeds to murder everyone.
23. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged
One of the characters in this sequel to 47 Meters Down, Catherine, stays on the boat while the rest of her friends dive into the water and explore an ancient submerged city and are attacked by sharks. Catherine might just be the MVP of all these movies.
24. Malibu Shark Attack
Okay, so, take the plot of Bait but make it even more insane, and you get Malibu Shark Attack. Some sexy lifeguards get trapped in their station after a tsunami hits and unleashes a pack of…wait for it…“prehistoric goblin sharks.”
25. Toxic Shark
The only thing worse than going on a tropical couples retreat during which a shark rolls up and kills everyone? Discovering the *hard* way that said shark spews poisonous acid out of its mouth—a totally realistic thing that could definitely happen IRL, don’t question it!
26. Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws
Kinda like Ghost Shark, only in a big city. As a reminder: Our toothy friend is super pissed when a bunch of randoms kill him during a fishing trip, so he decides to become a ghost and come back for REVENGE—this time in New Zealand. Also, I’m genuinely dead at this picture, although not as dead as this shark.