By Brandi Mitchell
Web Content Contributor
As an avid fan of sharks, shark week, and shark movies, I have found that my enjoyment of poorly made, poorly acted and poorly written SYFY channel movies and my love of anything shark related has a beautiful and entertaining marriage.
If your mind immediately goes to “Sharknado 1,2,3,4, or 5” then I hope you keep reading for your own education. There are a plethora of horribly amazing shark movies with far better (or far worse?) plotlines than merely an over-hyped tornado of sharks purely remembered for its ridiculousness.
To achieve my list of the top five best/worst shark movies, I ranked each one on a scale of 1-5 sharks, with the best being five and the worst being one. (As you may have noticed, “best” and “worst” only loosely apply here as often the traditional “worstness” of the movie catapults it to “bestness”).
The rating is an overall total of five different components that every good bad shark movie should have:
1. The level of pure joy and laughter experienced during the cinematic masterpiece
2. The number of people eaten in the first 15 minutes (should total at least two), the last 15 minutes (should total potentially 10-100) and all of the time in between (the more people eaten, the better)
Reasoning: What is a shark movie without an endless montage of people being eaten by sharks in highly unrealistic ways? If someone has not been eaten in the first 15 minutes due to a misguided attempt to set the stage or develop characters, expect no greater than a two shark rating from me.
3. The creativity of the origin of the shark or sharks preying on an innocent island/state/country/world.
Reasoning: This is an integral part of the shark movie. Were the sharks trapped in an iceberg for hundreds of years before being released by an earthquake? Were the sharks combined with another iconic aquatic creature by a mad scientist or the government before going rogue?
Was the shark mutated by toxic moonshine before being sold to an illegal arms dealer and accidentally released into a Lousiania swamp? Full disclosure: I consider the classic plot to inevitably involve the predictable trope of government engineering gone bad, so whenever this sets the premise of the movie, it will receive a bonus shark for a maximum of six sharks.
4. Quality of actors
Reasoning: In this rating system by me, the connoisseur of shark movies, I have determined that the poorer quality of cast members, the better the movie. I’m watching five headed shark attack, clearly I’m not here for talent!
5. Presence of iconic moments (these would also make for good shark movie bingo)
-Do people trip and fall from unrealistically far distances into the exact location of the apex predator before being eaten?
-Does a boyfriend push his girlfriend into the water playfully only to see her eaten by a lurking carnivore?
-Does a government-engineered shark intended to be used for top secret government purposes go rogue and lose its tracking device?
-Do people mysteriously disappear in the beginning of the movie while the rest of the quiet town remains in denial about their deaths, until eventually mass chaos ensues?
-Is a highly unlikely to succeed and very poorly thought out plan boldly thrown together by a ragtag band of brave souls who do end up defeating the shark in a burst of glory, but only after ⅓ of the original group has sacrificed themselves heroically?
And without further ado, the definitive ranking of the best worst shark movies ever to grace our televisions and hearts:
1. “Sharktopus”: 6 sharks.
This movie truly has it all. I cannot say enough good things about it. The government creates a great white shark-octopus hybrid controlled by a technological implant to target submarines and do the government’s dirty work. Until (you guessed it!) Sharktopus knocks his tracking and controlling device off and heads off to eat some unsuspecting people.
This movie boasts several iconic moments, including a guy pushing his girlfriend off of a bungee jumping platform. She is promptly stabbed with the tentacle of Sharktopus and fed into the great white mouth, with the boyfriend following soon after.
Multiple people, including some fishermen, disappear in the beginning before havoc is wreaked upon land and sea. The actors solely wave their arms and scream when being eaten, and beyond that no attempt at convincingly playing a single role is made. It brings a tear to my eye in the best way possible. (Also, don’t miss the spinoff, “Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda”!)
2. “Three Headed Shark Attack”: 5 sharks
Like the aptly coined title, a three headed shark wreaks havoc on a popular party beach, including targeting one group of friends stranded on a boat.
The only thing this gloriously awful movie is missing is government intervention and a clever origin for the three headed shark’s existence. The acting is so fabulously terrible it is almost difficult to fathom.
The abject insouciance towards plot cohesion and minor details is truly amazing. All of the actors will be looking in one direction, presumably at the shark, and just one actor will be looking in the totally wrong direction.
At one point, Brad, our resident hero, decides to swim towards the boat in order to fix it for potential escape. When he arrives at the boat, he realizes he actually has no idea how to fix boats! Four other people swim to the boat in the shark-infested waters before realizing that really no one is a boat mechanic and they will likely all die.
If these scenes weren’t enough to convince you, the lovely three-headed shark eats so many people just a few minutes into the movie, and the carnage almost never stops.
After determining that the shark’s heads grow back after being chopped off, the crew finally attempts to lure the shark back into a giant garbage patch in the middle of the ocean where it eats itself to death. The end. This movie gets a bonus shark for discovering a cure for ocean pollution, leaving us at five sharks.
3. “Toxic Shark”: 4 sharks
This movie is about a toxic shark that spews green acid onto its victims before devouring them. The beauty of this movie is that it is so wonderfully clear that the SYFY channel is convinced a giant shark can sneak up on people in two feet of water.
A man is at one point standing in knee deep water when toxic shark leaps from somewhere to his left and eats him in a perfect diving motion. Where did he come from? Where did he go? Does it even matter?
This movie redeems itself in all ways by the fact that the shark shoots poison before chomping down, and really that’s all it needs. Throw in the usual bad acting, people tripping and falling at the most inopportune moments right into the shark’s mouth, and a lot of questionable CGI, and you have a solid four shark rating.
4. Ghost Shark (2013): 3 sharks
A group of rednecks enjoying a fishing trip kill a great white shark, whose ghost comes back for revenge on the town. This Ghost Shark can hunt on land or at sea…it can eat you out of a puddle of water or your showerhead, or anywhere else water is presence.
This movie gets bonus sharks for creativity (eaten by the spirit of a great white as you walk by a glass of water? Amazing). Unfortunately, many iconic shark movie scenes are missing, and the cast of actors was a little too good.
5. “Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark”: 3 sharks.
Any shark movie that involves a versus in the title is already a winner in my book. Joining classics like “Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus”, “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus”, “Mega Shark vs. Whalewolf”, and “Mega Shark vs. Kolossus”, this movie does not disappoint.
When Megalodon, a colossal prehistoric shark, is released from an iceberg (iconic shark moment, anyone?) and starts a war path towards Australia, the government creates an equally large robotic shark to fight it off (anyone care to guess where this is going). It of course goes rogue and climbs on land to chomp on hundreds of people and the head of the Sphinx.
While not a phenomenal standout, it does include most, if not all, of the classic moments. It of course gets the bonus shark for government intervention gone wrong, as well as a shark for its mass destruction and creative battle between two large and unique creatures.
When the mega shark leapt from the water to eat a plane 30,000 feet in the air, it solidly scored another shark.
The one thing this movie was missing was an emotional connection to literally anyone, however superficial, as most of the movie was on a global scale with global concerns and the intervention of the military instead of a group of friends.
- “Two- Headed Shark Attack”,
- “Five- Headed Shark Attack”,
- “Bait” (a group of people are trapped in a grocery store underwater with great whites after a tsunami)
- “Malibu Shark Attack”
- “Avalanche Sharks”
- “Ice Sharks”
- “Sand Sharks”
- “Atomic Sharks”
- “Shark Exorcist”
- “Swamp Shark”
- “Dam Sharks” (Sharks in a dam!)
Or for a break from sharks…
- “Rajun Cajun Redneck Gators” (toxic moonshine dumped in the bayou and mutant alligators? Say no more)
- “Snakehead Terror” (a REALLY good falling from so far away into the Snakehead Terror’s mouth moment makes this a must-see)
You’re welcome for this detailed analysis you never asked for! Chomp chomp, my friends!
Featured image via Creative Commons by SoundXP.