Although there were many shark movies before Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Jaws, this terrorizer has put the fear of sharks into millions of beachgoers for decades and remains the first blockbuster in cinema history. Of course, there are at least a dozen that did not make our list, but here are some of the top shark movie picks from Long Island Weekly staff and readers.
Jaws: Naturally. When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. Rated: PG (2 hr, 4 mins); adventure, drama, horror (1975).
Sharknado: And not just Sharknado, but Sharknado: Enough Said! (1), The Second One (2), Oh Hell No! (3) and…wait for it…The 4th Awakens (4) on its way. The first in the Sharknado collection (2013) begins when a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles. Enough Said! stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and John Heard. Rated: TV-14 (1 hr, 26 mins); horror. Expect The 4th Awakens on July 31 on SYFY network.
Open Water: Absolutely terrifying because it actually could happen to you. When two divers find themselves stranded in the ocean, getting rescued becomes the least of their worries when a frenzy of hungry sharks close in on them. Rated: R (1 hr, 19 mins); adventure, biography, drama. Starring Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis and Saul Stein.
Shark Tale: There’s a lesson to be learned here by all ages. When a son of a gangster shark boss is accidentally killed while on the hunt, his would-be prey and his vegetarian brother both decide to use the incident to their own advantage. Rated: PG (1 hr, 30 mins); animation, comedy (2004). Starring Will Smith, Robert De Niro and Renée Zellweger.
Deep Blue Sea: A little science fiction, a little action, but all shark. Searching for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease, a group of scientists on an isolated research facility become the bait as a trio of intelligent sharks fight back. Rated: R (1 hr, 45 mins); action, sci-fi, thriller (1999). Starring Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows and Samuel L. Jackson.
Sharktopus: If you can’t get enough of this blended beast of terror, you can check out Sharktopus battle other wacky animal monster combinations in Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (2014) and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf. A half-shark, half-octopus creature created for the military causes a whole lot of terror in Mexico, while a scientist who helped create it tries to capture/kill it (2010). Rated: TV-14 (1 hr, 29 mins); comedy, horror, sci-fi (2015). Starring: Eric Roberts, Kerem Bursin and Sara Malakul Lane.
Ghost Shark: Hey, it could happen. When rednecks on a fishing trip kill a great white shark, its spirit comes back for revenge and soon turns its sights on the town of Smallport. Rated: TV-MA (1 hr, 27 mins); fantasy, horror (2013). Starring Robert Aberdeen, Jayme Bohn and Eliot Brasseaux.
The Shallows: Real-life, similar incidents make this story too real. A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills. Rated: PG-13 (1 hr, 24 mins); drama, horror and thriller (2016). Starring Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada and Brett Cullen.
The Reef: Not to be confused with the animated feature by the same name. A great white shark hunts the crew of a capsized sailboat along the Great Barrier Reef. Rated: R (1 hr, 34 mins); horror, thriller (2010). Starring Damian Walshe-Howling, Gyton Grantley and Adrienne Pickering.
Bait: Let’s assume battling sharks with groceries is not the solution here. A freak tsunami traps shoppers inside a coastal Australian supermarket—along with 12-foot great white sharks. Rated: R (1 h, 33 mins); horror (2012). Starring Richard Brancatisano, Xavier Samuel and Chris Betts.
—Listing courtesy of IMDb. Compiled by Christy Hinko.
Christy Hinko is the managing editor of Anton Media Group’s award-winning special sections and a contributing editor of Long Island Weekly.