The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

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With Netflix’s Under Paris a smash hit, ranking among the streamer’s most popular movies ever, we take a deep dive into the Shark sub-genre.

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Everyone loves a good shark movie. Ever since Jaws hit theaters and broke box office records in 1975, it’s been a reliable horror movie genre. Case in point: Netflix’s Under Paris, after only two weeks, ranks as Netflix’s fifth most popular non-English language film of all time, and seems likely to hit number one before long. While everyone knows Jaws is by far the best shark movie ever, there are loads of other movies out there that should make you just as afraid to get in the water. We’re gonna need a bigger boat as we travel these dangerous waters of shark films.

The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

O​k. Already I’m cheating, but I mean . . . come on. This has one of the best shark scenes in cinematic history. During an early scene of the movie, a woman decides to go for a swim in the lovely Caribbean waters when a tiger shark appears. As she hides among some of the terrain on the ocean floor, she quickly finds she is not alone. A zombie has found his way into the depths. As she swims away, the zombie turns its attention to the shark. What ensues is one of the greatest shark fights on film, and it involves a real shark.

best shark movies
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

T​his movie has a little bit of everything. Vietnam war veterans, evil strip club owners, and telepathic connections to sharks. What more do you need? Sonny is in Vietnam and is saved by a mako shark as he is being stalked by the enemy. He decides he loves sharks and is given a magic medallion by a shaman that lets him telepathically communicate with his beloved creatures. When he moves to Florida, he runs afoul of the owner of a local aquarium and a strip club owner who wants to use sharks in one of his acts. They try to convince Sonny to use his powers to help them, but instead, he declares war on those that try to hurt them. Ironically, for a movie that’s pro-shark, many of the tactics used off screen during filming were cruel, with sharks having had their teeth removed prior to filming.

great white 1981
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

Great White aka The Last Shark (1981):

This Italian-made Jaws-rip-off was a smash hit. It made $18 million and probably would have made a lot more, were it not for the fact that Universal Studios actually sued the American distributor to have it pulled from theaters. For the longest time, this was unavailable in the U.S, but now you can see the Italian release version, The Last Shark, online. While some may wonder, after seeing it, why Universal sued, part of the reason is the original score the American distributor commissioned for the film. It was very, very closely patterned on what John Williams wrote for Jaws, and isn’t available on any currently existing version of the film.

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best shark movies
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

The cheesy shark film that started a phenomenon! This low-budget horror film seemed destined to follow the other such films that end up on the SyFy Channel, but this one caught on with audiences who fell in love. There ended up being six of these films made over five years. You don’t need to be in deep water for there to be a shark attack, but in this movie you don’t even need to be in the water at all. A freak weather accident causes a hurricane off the coast of Los Angeles and picks up a load of deadly great white sharks. It drops them on the unsuspecting public as the city is drenched. Finley has to fight his way to Beverly Hills to make sure his family is safe. The cultural impact of this movie immediately made it one of the best shark movies.

best shark movies
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

Another tale that proves that humans should not genetically meddle with ultimate killing machines in research facilities. Scientists in an underwater laboratory begin altering the DNA of a group of mako sharks. Now they are larger and way more intelligent than they should be. The group funding the project show up to question if it should move forward, but they all end up trapped in the base as a tropical storm rages above. The sharks get loose and begin wreaking havoc upon anyone they lay their eyes on. A fun movie that will have you pumping your fist in the air.

best shark movies
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

M​ade during the newer 3D craze, this film tries to make the best use of it by sticking you in a supermarket with sharks. A tsunami hits the coast of Australia, trapping a group of people in a quickly flooding grocery store. Among them is former lifeguard Josh who found a new profession after a shark attack. As they begin to wonder when the storm will let up, they realize that the flooded store has a twelve-foot-long killer shark patrolling its aisles. Now they must figure out how to survive and not become a cleanup in aisle five.

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best shark movies
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

P​roving that you should never go sailing with your friends. A group sets out for a fun day of sailing when the boat hits a rock. This opens up the bottom of the ship, and the group has to decide what to do. One of them recommends they try and swim to a nearby island as the overturned boat is being pulled out to sea. Then a shark fin appears in the water. As they swim, they are being hunted by a great white shark. They are being picked off one by one by the apex predator as they try to make it to land.

best shark movies
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

S​o not only are you being hunted by a man-eating shark, but you’re also trapped on the ocean floor? Sounds like a nightmare. This is precisely what happens to the two sisters as they go on vacation. They decide to do a cage diving excursion in shark-infested waters, but the cable holding onto the cage snaps. As they settle onto the bottom of the ocean, they see that sharks are starting to appear. Now they only have one hour of air left and can’t leave the cage as the sharks try to wait them out. Can you imagine cage diving and seeing a megalodon just show up like in The Meg 2?

The Black Demon, streaming, sequel, Josh Lucas
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

The Black Demon (2013)

This was a surprise hit in the spring of 2023. While this Josh Lucas-led shark flick didn’t get much theatrical play via new distributor The Avenue (they had a solid theatrical hit with Land of Bad), this was a huge streaming hit and a sequel is in the works. While it’s lower-key than a lot of other movies on this list, the setting on a Mexican Oil Rig is cool, and Lucas is a better actor than usual for movies like this.

the shallows blake lively
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

A​ surfer hears about a secluded beach that is supposed to be the ultimate destination to catch some waves. When she heads out, she quickly finds a shark hunting in the area and attacks her. She ends up on a rock only 200 feet from shore but can’t safely make it back without becoming a shark dinner. As she sits trying to figure out what to do, she realizes that high tide is coming soon and the rock she is safe on will be underwater. A great thriller that is tense throughout.

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best shark movies
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

M​aybe the most terrifying thing about this movie is that it’s based on a true story! It will keep anyone out of the ocean. A young couple books a scuba diving trip in the Caribbean. They have such a great time that they are the last to surface in their group. To their dismay, they find that the rest of their group has left them behind after a botched headcount. The couple is left to float out in the ocean and see that sharks could soon be the biggest problem. This one will make your stomach clench the whole time you’re watching it. Beware.

best shark movies
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

I​t had to be right? This Steven Spielberg film not only changed the summer movie season forever but also terrified people of getting in the water. Sadly it also caused a worldwide problem when people began hunting sharks due to fear of this movie becoming a reality. Sheriff Brody thinks a shark may be patrolling off the coast of his small town and tries to convince the mayor to shut the beaches down. He refuses to do so because the July 4th weekend would be an economic disaster. Of course, then a giant shark shows up and kills a little boy. A team is assembled to hunt the shark down and kill it, but not before it takes out most of the crew and sinks their boat. A classic film that is worth a watch whenever possible. A classic film that is worth a watch whenever possible.

jaws 2
The Best Shark Movies Ever Made

Honorable Mention: Jaws 2 (1978)

While making a sequel to Jaws was an act of pure commerce, the first one they did isn’t half bad. This time, a great white stalks a bunch of teens, and despite saving Amity just a few years before, no one believes Brody when he warns them that a shark is on the loose. This benefits from Roy Scheider reprising his role and the classy director of Jeannot Szwarc. That said, the next two Jaws movies are REALLY bad. Wanna know just how bad? Watch the two videos below:

W​hat do you think are some of the best shark movies? Where are the Ghost Shark and 2-Headed Shark Attack fans? Let us know in the comments.

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