Sharks have been a constant prescence in the monster movie scene. Ever since Jaws in 1975, sharks have been a staple of thriller/horror films set out on the ocean.
Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was the film to bring the shark into the movie mainstream. It all came about when producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown came across Peter Benchley’s novel and read it over the course of a single night. Brown later said that if they’d read the novel a second time, they never would have proceeded as it would’ve been too hard to transfer to film.
The story of the mechanical shark not ever working properly during the making of Jaws is famous. It’s because of this malfunctioning machine however that helped Jaws to be so intricately crafted a film. Spielberg said he would’ve shown the shark in the opening scene if he could have. Thank God he didn’t.
So why is the shark one of the most popular movie monsters? Well, sharks are freaking scary looking – there is no denying that.
They move seemingly effortless through the water. As Quint from Jaws would say, “he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.” What makes a shark a terrifying creature is because often you won’t even see the attack coming, as it comes from beneath. When you walk along a path you’re not scared of something suddenly coming up from underneath you to attack. In the water however, you’re suddenly exposed to a whole other plane, something could be below you and you might not even know.
Of course the odds of actually dying in a shark attack, let alone being attacked by one, are quite small. But when it does happen, the length at which it is reported by the media buries itself in your mind somewhere, so that the next time you’re at the beach and you feel a bit of seaweed brush against your leg, you instinctively fear the worst.
Sharks would continue to terrorize movie screens for years to come after Jaws, appearing in the three Jaws sequels and inspiring countless other films
To avoid a lot of comparisons to Jaws, shark movies would often have gimmicks to add another layer to their film. Here are some of the ones that stood out the most.
In 2003 Open Water had huge success with the story of a couple stranded after being left behind by a scuba-diving boat. Loosely based off the true story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, Open Water made a staggering $54 million off of a $120,000 budget.
The Reef repeated a similar formula. It featured a small group in the middle of the ocean after their boat strikes a reef, stalked by sharks.
More recently The Shallows and 47 Meters Down made their shark films as isolated thrillers. The Shallows had Blake Lively stranded on a row while a massive shark stalks her. 47 Meters Down had two friends trapped in a shark cage, you guessed it, 47 meters below the ocean surface.
And then, ladies and gentleman, there came, The Asylum.
If you didn’t know, The Asylum is an independent studio that specialises in direct-to-video “mockbusters”. They made “films” such as Megashark vs Crocosaurus and Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus.
I’ve only seen two of the Sharknado movies; the best way to watch is with a room full of drunk people. Otherwise, they sadly are incredibly boring despite being so ridiculous.
So what does the future hold for sharks in cinema?
Sounds fucking awful; I’m in.
So there you have it, a brief history of sharks in film. What’s your favourite shark movie? Let us know in the comments and on our Facebook page.