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Top 10 Best And Worst Shark Films

by valentinedragon
fact checked by Alex Hanton

The date was June 20th, 1975, when milestone film Jaws made a splash in the entertainment business. Steven Spielberg’s larger than life movie dragged audiences from their seats into the depths of the ocean for the thrill ride of their lives. The movie profoundly affected our desire to stay away from beaches, and revolutionized Hollywood films, by producing the first ever blockbuster hit. Today’s list is dedicated to the legacy Jaws spawned. We’re honoring the best, and worst, shark movies in different categories.


Best Special Effects
Deep Blue Sea
Deep Blue Sea (1999) Trailer

It should be no surprise that the most expensive film on this list had the greatest special effects. The mako sharks looked authentic thanks to director Renny Harlin’s intelligent use of both animatronics and CGI. Their proportions weren’t too exaggerated, their movements were fluid and their skin had a rubbery, realistic appearance. Additionally, the action sequences were choreographed smoothly, so the explosions, the flooding of the lab (which will scar claustrophobics) and the encounters with the sharks were each epic and distinct, without being repetitive and overtly cliche. Deep Blue Sea was a surprise hit for shark fans and stands as the second best shark movie out there.

Interesting Fact: Makos are one of the few shark species in which cases of embryophagy has been recorded. This means that, in the womb, the strongest embryo will consume its brothers and sisters. This form of cannibalism is meant to give the reigning embryo enough food and nutrients needed until it’s born. Yikes.


Worst Special Effects
Jaws 3-D

The promise of 3-D is good, right? Wrong! Jaws 3-D decided to revisit the classic tale, and beat the dead horse even more, or in this case, the dead shark. Our favorite giant killer was reduced to cheap, formulaic shots, giving the impression that very little effort was put into its creation. He’s left looking like a submarine (even more so than the actual submarine in the film), eliminating all chances for it to look realistic; it’s a three foot robotic tank that glides. Furthermore, the film was comprised of many opening and closing mouth clips, plumes of red water and countless tired, mechanical movements. The production crew behind this film relied far too much on the superficial satisfaction of 3-D graphics, thus further blemishing the good name of Jaws. This movie were insulting to audiences and sharks alike.

Honorable Mention: Megalodon. Almost the entire movie is CGI and it’s far from any worthwhile special effects.


Best Plot
12 Days of Terror
The infamous 1916 shark attacks that inspired “Jaws”

This is cheating but hear me out first. 12 Days of Terror was a docudrama, released by the Discovery Channel, which focused on the true events that happened along the New Jersey shore in 1916. People were subjected to twelve days of (you guessed it) terror, as there appeared to be a man-eating shark in the river. Four swimmers were mauled to death and a fifth was seriously injured, reaching national headlines by the third week and capturing the attention of audiences everywhere with this unfounded news. That leaves 12 Days of Terror with the best plot. It’s simple, it’s real and it had a chilling mystery (the species of the killer[s] was never scientifically verified).

Interesting Fact: Such an event was unheard of up to this incident. People began to fear sharks as dangerous man-eaters, creating a panic that resulted in full-scale shark hunting parties. This event also inspired Peter Benchley to write the novel aptly titled Jaws.


Worst Plot
Raging Sharks
Raging Sharks – Official Trailer

Two alien spaceships collide with one another, causing a generator aboard one of the ships to fall into the Bermuda Triangle. The device was powered by space crystals, which produce a negative effect on the sharks, awakening their killer instincts and driving them mad. The sharks attack an underwater research lab, cutting out the power and oxygen. The Navy sends specialists to rescue the people trapped inside, only to discover a black-ops team within the lab that have their own secret agenda.

Did that confuse you as soon as the aliens were mentioned? Raging Shark’s plot was contrived, cheesy, predictable, awkward and just plain ridiculous.

Honorable Mention: Blood Surf – athletes, looking for the latest extreme sport, cut themselves before surfing in shark infested waters to entice the vicious creatures to chase them. Little do they realize the real killer in the water is a man-eating crocodile. You’re promised sharks and get a reptile instead. Total bummer, dude.


Best Shark Sequel
Jaws 2
The Greatest Jaws Sequel We Never Got To See – Steven Spielberg’s Jaws 2

Jaws 2 didn’t surpass the quality and suspense of its predecessor, but in comparison with other shark sequels, it’s the best. Director Jeannot Szwarc returned with the original film’s protagonist, Martin Brody, to further explore the waters of Amity Island. There’s blood, there’s brutal deaths and plenty of shark footage to boot. Certainly not as well rated, Jaws 2 didn’t meet the expectations of audiences, but provided enough of a mediocre thrill that it was moderately satisfying.

Interesting Fact: If confronted with a shark, remember these tips. Do not to flail around; instead swim rhythmically. Keep them in your sight and pretend you’re ready to fight (most sharks will avoid prey that appear as if they’re able to attack). Be sure to stay calm. Panicking will frighten the shark and make you look vulnerable, a combination that would be fatal. And if it does attack, fight back. Use any object with you and aim for its eyes and gills.


Worst Shark Sequel
Jaws 4: The Revenge
Jaws: The Revenge Original Uncut Ending

Jaws 4: The Revenge is the worst shark sequel for three reasons. The first pertains to the “revenge” this movie is named after. Protagonist Ellen Brody, now a widow, believes the great white in the water has a vendetta against her family. This point she’s certain of when she leaves Amity Island and travels to the Bahamas, only to find the shark has followed her. Now correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the shark die in the first, second and third films? So what vendetta would this shark have against the Brody family?

The second reason is the climatic ending. Ellen is out on a boat, ready to confront the beast. As the shark swims toward her, she begins to have flashbacks of the iconic scene from the original film when her husband valiantly shot the tank in the shark’s mouth and saved the day. She remembers this vividly, even though she wasn’t there when it happened. The beauty of the scene, however, is the moment the Jaws 4 shark jumps out of the water, only to be harpooned and then explodes… for no reason. No tank of gas. No explosives. No electrical wiring. The shark explodes because it was stabbed.

The final reason is perhaps the most simple of details but a big one nonetheless. The shark roars with a T-Rex-like growl but sharks don’t have vocal cords. You do the math. This was a terrible film and an even more awful ending to the Jaws legacy.

Honorable Mention: Shark Attack 2 – the sharks growl like lions. Enough said.


Most Likely to Happen
Open Water

Two people, out with a scuba diving group, are left behind when the crew fails to do a proper headcount. The couple is stranded out in the ocean with no signs of land in any direction. They soon realize that they aren’t alone. Surrounding them, both jellyfish and sharks inhabit the area. They are left with few options as they struggle to survive the harsh open waters.

In real life, the people in charge of scuba diving trips and tours are very careful, taking every precaution to prevent situations as the one described above from happening. That being said, being stranded in the middle of the ocean is not unheard of, and it is speculated that this movie is based on the real life disappearance of Tom and Eileen Longergan, in similar circumstances, while diving the Great Barrier Reef. Out of all the shark movies, this circumstance has the highest probability, unless aliens start dropping crystals in the Bermuda Triangle or sharks explode randomly.

Interesting Fact: Tiger and bull sharks are ranked as the most dangerous predators. Both species have indiscriminate tastes and are known to hunt along the surface and shores. Not to mention both these sharks are naturally curious about all moving objects.


Least Likely to Happen
Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus
Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus trailer

A megalodon and giant octopus find themselves frozen in the midst of an colossal battle, back when the Earth was still young. The two giants remain frozen until the present age, when the results of global warming thaw them out and unleash them back into the waters. The megalodon and giant octopus wreak havoc across the globe, attacking bridges, drilling platforms and even jets. Scientists decide the only way to defeat these beasts is by pitting them against each other, in one final epic battle.

Debunking this movie is simple: sharks back out of fights if their opponent appears capable of defending itself and octopodes avoid fights altogether by use of camouflage. Sorry, folks. We’ll never see a battle of this monstrous proportion in real life.

Honorable Mention: Hammerhead – a devastated scientist implants hammerhead shark DNA into his son to keep him alive after he’s diagnosed with cancer. The DNA turns him into a horrible beast that attacks- actually, there’s no need to go on because that tells you enough already.


Jaws Trailer 1975

What other shark movie had you lifting your feet off the ground in the movie theater? Which one made you nervous to take a shower? What film changed the audience viewing experience forever? Jaws is, and always will be, the best shark story ever told. This classic had it all: the cast were each three-dimensional, the effects were impressive, the plot was original, it was scary, heartbreaking, thrilling and eye-opening all at once. Jaws accomplished what no other shark film has been able to do since its debut.

Interesting Fact: The famous animatronic shark was named Bruce, after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer. It was also referred to as the Great White Turd and Flaws, for the many times it broke down. Bruce now tours museums, while Bruce II can be found at Universal theme parks, in the backlot tram ride.


Shark Attack 3 – Megalodon
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon

Think of everything that was great from Jaws and then picture the exact opposite, all compiled into one movie; that’s Shark Attack 3 in a nutshell. The acting was horrendous, leaving characters bland and unrealistic. The effects were lazy, resulting in laughable footage, rather than bone-chilling and iconic moments. And the plot has been seen hundreds of times before. There’s nothing new, exciting or worthwhile in this film. Why it was even made is the biggest concern you’d be left with after viewing this mocking shark movie.

Honorable Mention: Sharks in Venice. Think of it as Snakes on a Plane, except with sharks and in Venice.

fact checked by Alex Hanton