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10 Awesome Shark Movies Inspired By ‘Jaws’

Shark Movies
Warner Bros./United Artists/Nu Image

If you’re like us, then you too have a love/hate relationship with sharks, aka “the assassins of the sea.” We’re utterly terrified of them, but we can’t help but watch when they rampage a shore and snack on some unfortunate swimmers. Hollywood shares our love/hatred of sharks — namely, they love the money they make for them and hate them enough to kill them off in multiple gory ways (impalement, explosion, electrocution).

In honor of Shark Week and the release of ‘Jaws’ on Blu-ray, we’re counting down some entertaining shark films that are in no way related to the still popular and near perfect film ‘Jaws’ or its less-than stellar sequels. Instead, let these films be your guide into the magical realm known as “sharksploitation.”

10. ’12 Days of Terror’

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An interesting film since it bills itself as the ‘true story’ that inspired ‘Jaws.’ However, as we’ve learned from movie “true stories,” truth is rarely an essential ingredient. The film purports to be a retelling of the 1916 Jersey shore shark attacks which involved five unfortunate swimmers. The film shows how even in the early 20th century, the media feeding frenzy was just as ravenous as the sharks they covered.

9. ‘Mako: The Jaws of Death’

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One of the few pro-shark movies, this film follows the adventures of a shark lover who is given a psychic connection with sharks after they save his life. He takes it upon himself to become their protector, using whatever means to stop their senseless slaughter, which in the immediate aftermath of ‘Jaws,’ became something of an unofficial sport.

8. ‘Shark Attack 3: Megalodon’

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Where to begin with this one? Surely you’ve seen this hilarious scene of the giant megalodon shark attacking a cruise liner…oh, you haven’t? Sit back and enjoy. And when you’re done with that, watch the entire movie, filled with giant prehistoric sharks, corrupt Mexican businessmen, bad acting and even worse dialogue. (Our favorite is the final line of the movie, uttered by the hero after he defeats the Megalodon: “Megalawho??”)

7. ‘Sharks’ Treasure’

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Man wants treasure. Sharks are guarding said treasure. There is more to this film, but after that brief synopsis, what more can be said to make you already watch it? How about a cast of grizzled acting vets like Cornel Wilde and Yaphet Kotto (‘Homicide’)? Pop it into your Netflix queue and enjoy the sharksploitation goodness.

6. ‘Deep Blue Sea’

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Perhaps the first post-’Jaws’ shark movie to do reasonably well with both audiences and critics, this movie reinvents the killer shark menace for a new audience. Instead of great whites, you get genetically altered makos. Instead of a peaceful resort town, you get an underwater lab. Instead of inspiring monologues, you get, well, just take a look above.

5. ‘Orca’

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Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, but you’ll thank us. As the title suggests, this film is about a killer whale rather than a killer shark, but this is a story of love, murder and revenge. A male orca is enraged and driven insane when his mate is murdered and sets out to avenge her. Sounds silly? Of course. But entertainingly silly.

Also, pay attention to the scene where they stick it to ‘Jaws’ by having the titular orca totally own a great white. The ‘Jaws’ crew got their payback though, when in ‘Jaws 2,’ a killer whale is found mutilated on the beach from shark bites. So, to answer the question “who’d win in a fight, an orca or a great white?,” the answer is whoever is writing the script.

4. ‘Open Water’

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Another film to treat the subject of killer sharks seriously, ‘Open Water’ breaks away from several clichés. One, real sharks are used instead of CGI or mechanical ones. Two, the film deals with several sharks, not just one big one. Finally, the characters are real, believable people, not just shark bait, so much so that you find yourself rooting for them instead of the shark, a rarity in these types of films.

3. ‘Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus’

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Perhaps the schlock-iest shark film out there — and that’s saying a lot. (The fine artists at the Aslyum know their fan base well.) They pack this flick full of what shark movie fans want — namely outlandish plots, hokey dialogue, bad acting and over the top scenes, e.g. the “mega shark” taking a bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge. We could continue on, but why should we when you can experience the trailer for yourself?

2. ‘The Reef’

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Going back to the simplistic formula of ‘Open Water’ and adding in a great white in the vein of ‘Jaws,’ ‘The Reef’ taps into that primal fear all of us who love shark movies secretly have. In ‘Jaws’ and its clones, most attacks happened somewhat near the shore, but in ‘Open Water’ and ‘The Reef,’ the victims are stranded in the middle of the ocean, adding utter isolation to their terror. What sets ‘The Reef’ apart is the fact that there aren’t several killer sharks, but one rather large great white, making it personal. Cue the ‘Jaws: The Revenge’ puns…

1. ‘The Last Shark’ aka ‘Great White’

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There is so much lore around this Italian film that it deserves its special spot as number one. You may have heard the story: a peaceful resort community is terrorized by a giant great white, the mayor refuses to acknowledge its threat, a novelist who writes shark books and a fishermen team up to get rid of it…oh, heard it before? Yeah, so did Universal Pictures who successfully had theaters pull the film in the US.

In the end, the ‘Jaws’ franchise ended up borrowing a few elements from the ripoff, namely the death sequence in the ill-fated ‘Jaws 3D.’ But, hey, when it comes to sharksploitation, there’s bound to be some overlap.

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