Can Michael Phelps swim faster than a shark? How do sharks have sex? Who would win in a croc vs shark showdown? These questions and more will be answered in the annual Shark Week, which is set to begin July 23rd on the Discovery Channel.
Shark Week is fast approaching, but if like me you’re too poor to pay for a subscription to the Discovery Channel, you may want other options to get your dose of sharky goodness. Or perhaps you CAN afford the subscription, and want to get in the mood for the sharks leading up to Shark Week, while eating your caviar and oyster feast upon your golden throne. In any case, I’ve got your guide to the shark movies to watch this year, depending on what theme you want to explore. No David Attenborough ahead, folks, just a bunch of films featuring the majestic fish that we both fear and love all at the same time.
Fun fact: a fear of sharks is called “galeophobia“. Okay now onto the good stuff:
Let’s face it, you can’t go past Stephen Spielberg’s “Jaws” when you’re looking for a classic shark movie to watch. Delivering such lines as “you’re gonna need a bigger boat” and “What are you, some kind of half-ass astronaut?”, the 1975 film scared a lot people out of their summer holiday at the beach. I’m sure you know the story by now, but it sees a giant-man eating great white shark terrorise beachgoers on Amity Island, leading to a manhunt..er Sharkhunt.. of the beast, with a $3k bounty attached.
If you want even more “Jaws” action, there are 3 sequels – “Jaws 2” (1978), “Jaws 3-D” (1983) and “Jaws: The Revenge” (1987). It goes without saying that the sequels didn’t quite hit the mark, but if it’s sharks you’re after, then sharks you’ll get.
“Deep Blue Sea” (1999) was another classic, the gist of which was that sharks were being used as test subjects in the quest for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease. After harvesting the brain fluids of the Mako sharks, the scientists inadvertedly increase the size of the shark’s brains, and therefore their smarts. The sharks then escape, and wreak havoc, essentially. Stay tuned for a direct-to-video “Deep Blue Sea” sequel as well, which we had the exclusive on last month.
The fear of being attacked or killed by a shark legitimately terrifies a lot of people – and the mammoth list of movies based on shark attacks is a good indication of the theme being a tried and true horror discourse. You could be here for days reading about shark attack films, so I’ll give you a quick rundown on what you should watch.
“Bait 3D” (2012) is your good old shark attack film, in which a bunch of Aussies come face-to-face with a great white shark, after it washes ashore in a tsunami wave. It starts to reach the territory of “sharks in various locations” (see that category a little further down) as the shark is caught in the flooded supermarket and picks off its victims, but it is a shark attacking in its own defense so I’ll leave it here. “Bait 3D” has all the elements of a typical shark attack movie – young 20-somethings, romance, a giant shark and a lot of death.
2016’s “The Shallows” fits the bill of a shark attack movie, with Blake Lively playing the young surfer chick who gets stranded on a rock at sea after a gigantic shark kills some locals. She must then race against the tide, with an injury and a seagull sidekick, to rescue herself from the beast before she becomes its dinner.
“47 Metres Down” (2017) is the latest in theatrical shark releases (check out our review here), as a shark dive goes horribly wrong when the cable holding the shark cage snaps and the girls inside the cage get trapped at the bottom of the ocean… 47 metres down, surrounded by great whites. Their survival then depends on if they can be saved and reach the surface before their oxygen runs out or become victims to the surrounding sharks.
Others: “Shark Attack” (1999) and its follow up 3 sequels sees mutant great white sharks attack and going nuts on unsuspecting victims. “Shark Night” (2011) sees people get picked off by a shark in a lake by a private vacation home – and instead of you know, staying out of the water, they decide to hunt it with deadly consequences. In “The Reef” (2010), a yacht Indonesia-bound capsizes in a coral reef and the survivors have to swim shark-infested waters to survive. It’s not a bad one really, and while it ticks all the generic boxes, in terms of shark enjoyment it hits the mark. “Shark Swarm” (2008) sees a bunch of super aggressive sharks threatening a luxury property area, eating humans and lowering the price of nearby condos.
Sharks versus other animals
Sharks are cool animals, and given that they’re so menacing, I’m sure I’m not the only one who ponders a shark in a fight against say…a giant octopus. “Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus” is the first film in a series of 4 in which the mega shark comes up against another creature. It was followed with “Mega Shark versus Crocosaurus“, “Mega Shark versus Mecha Shark” and “Mega Shark versus Kolossus“. No doubt you’re wondering what sort of creatures these are, and just how big “Mega Shark” is, but hold tight, I’m getting there.
2009’s “Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus” saw the two aquatic creatures go head to head, causing mayhem and carnage at sea, while the humans hunt them and try to stop the madness. There’s a sex scene in there as well, which is always a bonus (not between the animals, mind you). I won’t spoil the ending, because you should watch this gem, and place bets on which mega animal takes home the crown.
Subsequent film “Mega Shark versus Crocosaurus” is a brand new story, seeing a Crocosaurus taking on the Mega Shark. The Crocosaurus is essentially just a giant crocodile, but the true terror in this flick is that the battle moves to the land, which means that you’re no longer safe if you avoid the ocean. Oh, and the crocodile hatchlings are unsettling too.
“Mega Shark versus Mecha Shark” followed, which had Mega Shark take on a mechanical shark, followed by “Mega Shark versus Kolossus” in which it’s Mega Shark versus a giant mechanical man – for lack of a better term. Basically, if you love a good shark rampage, these films are for you.
Sharks that are more than sharks
When is a shark not just a shark? When it’s a “Sharktopus” (2010) of course. It’s one thing to see a shark battle an octopus, but it’s quite another to see a genetically engineered combination of both. The film sees a half-shark, half-octopus escapes its creators and attacks beachgoers, quickly killing everyone who enters its path. Of course it’s able to penetrate land as well, meaning no one is safe from the Sharktopus.
The sequels “Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda” (2014, half-pterodactyl, half-barracuda) and “Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf” (2015 half-killer whale, half-gray wolf) provide even more kinds of special as the Sharktopus, not content with attacking just humans, goes up against other genetically engineered creatures.
“Dinoshark” (2010) was another shark-hybrid movie, with a dinosaur-shark creature escaping from a glacier and swimming to Mexico to conduct a killing spree.
“Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy” (2005) is another particularly menacing looking creature, which sees a man get injected with Hammerhead Shark DNA in an effort to save his life, morphing him into a half-man, half-shark. As the title suggests, he then goes on a killing frenzy. The true terror in this film lies in the Hammerhead’s appearance.
“2-Headed Shark Attack” (2012) is self explanatory, and sees a 2 headed shark – attack. The menacing fish takes no prisoners as it takes on its victims. The follow up “3-Headed Shark Attack” (2015) features a shark with, you guessed it, 3 heads, and there’s an upcoming “5-Headed Shark Attack” coming later in 2017.
“Ghost Shark” (2013) shows that just because you kill a shark, it doesn’t mean it’s dead. The corpse of a great white shark gets resurrected as a ghost shark and is hungry for revenge, having been killed by some redneck fishermen. It then sets its sights on the rest of the community, and comes up through anything with water to claim victims – think toilets, bathtubs, a drinking cup and a swimming pool.
Others: “Raging Sharks” (2005) has killer sharks tearing people apart after sharks eat crystals from an alien spaceship and become viscous killers. It’s fairly low-budget, if that description didn’t give it away. “Super Shark” (2011) is about a gigantic bulletproof shark that manifests after exposure to a toxic goo. The shark eats some divers and threatens to disrupt a bikini contest – not on my watch, buddy! “Jurassic Shark” (2012) sadly isn’t a film about a shark park, but about a prehistoric shark (megalodon) that is accidently awakened by an oil company’s explorations. The shark then traps a bunch of people in the middle of a lake, who become victims one by one. “Monster Shark” (1984) is the leader in mutated shark creatures, with a common octopus and prehistoric Dunkleosteus hybrid escaping and feeding on tourists in Florida.
Sharks in various locations
It’s particularly scary when a sea animal comes onto land, and these movies profit on this fear. In these features, there are sharks in unlikely locations, proving that you’re not safe anywhere in this world. Keep an eye out, people.
“Shark in Venice” (2008) is an easy one to start with, as the shark in question is actually limited to the waterways of Venice. Land-dwelling people, celebrate, as you’ll be safe unless you fall into the water. That doesn’t make this great-white any less menacing though, with many people falling victim to the out-of-place fish. Similarly, “Spring Break Shark Attack” (2005) sees sharks in their natural habitat – the ocean – but joining holiday makers at the annual Spring Break and ruining their vacation. Turns out STDs and getting your drink spiked is the least of their worries this Spring Break, as a pack of tiger sharks conduct a feeding frenzy on those who dare swim. “Malibu Shark Attack” (2009) and “Jersey Shore Shark Attack” (2012) follow a similar storyline, with mutant sharks in Malibu and Jersey Shore respectively taking the lives of unsuspecting tourists.
The infamous “Sharknado” series has sharks in a tornado, and despite the release of the fifth film nearing, no one else seems to think the franchise has jumped the shark – if you’ll excuse the bad pun. The first film was released in 2013, and essentially sees sharks being lifted out of the water and depositing then in Los Angeles. Flooding causes the sharks to attack people, so it’s up to one dude to save everyone. Follow up films include “Sharknado 2: The Second One” (2014), “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” (2015), “Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens“(2016) and the upcoming “Sharknado 5: Global Swarming“. The premise for each one is the same really – sharks in a tornado.
“Snow Shark” (2012) involves a prehistoric shark that can swim through snow, which is discovered after it’s been spotted killing local wildlife. The snow shark becomes a legend in the small New York town, and after two residents are killed by it the town decide it must be killed. Efforts to capture and kill the man-eating fish are fruitless, as it picks off all the people that come within its path. The 2014 film “Avalanche Sharks” is similar in that it sees a snow shark get uncovered after an avalanche wakes up the prehistoric beast. The town has a “Jaws”-like denial of said shark’s existence at the risk of interrupting tourist season, so the snow shark is left to wreak havoc while they work out how to get rid of it.
Others: 2011’s “Sand Shark” has sharks swimming through sand and hunting people – proving that staying out of the water is not going to keep you safe. The sharks attack beachgoers, including a couple trying to be naughty on the sand. Tsk tsk.
Based on true stories
“12 Days of Terror” (2004) recounts 12 days in which people along the Jersey Coast were attacked by sharks in 1916. The film documents the events of the shark’s rampage, while authorities struggled with what to do to stop it.
“Open Water” (2003) is about an American couple that go scuba diving in the Carribean, and get left in the open water after their boat leaves without them. The film is loosely based on the story of the couple Tom & Eileen Lonergan who were left behind by their scuba diving group in 1998 on the Great Barrier Reef. While the Lonergans were never found, in “Open Water” the couple battle sharks overnight in a feeding frenzy, and struggle to stay alive. “Open Water 2: Adrift” followed in 2006 but literally has nothing to do with the first film, including no presence of sharks so don’t want that if you want to see sharks. The recent “Open Water 3: Cage Dive” follows the shark survival premise, after a cage dive goes wrong.