Do you see the dark clouds approaching? Can you hear the thunder in the distance? That's no normal storm that you feel approaching; it's the pending premiere of Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. This...err...long-awaited fourth installment in the renowned Sharknado franchise is set to debut on the SyFy channel on July 31st and will no doubt use the star power of Tara Reid, Carrot Top and Wayne Newton to reach new heights in cinematic excellence.
But seriously, the one thing we can safely predict about Sharknado 4 is that the series' trademark sense of fun will help it to rise well above the very worst shark movies ever made. While the Sharknado franchise may not be the peak of movie excellence, it is still far greater than what the absolute bottom of the sharksploitation genre has to offer.
If you need further proof of that, just take a look at the 15 Worst Shark Movies Of All Time.
One of the themes you’ll find throughout this list is movies that attempt to alter the actual habits of a shark in order to conveniently place them in whatever poorly written scenario the creators have concocted. So far as that goes, Red Water’s scientific inaccuracies are not that deplorable. Essentially, it argues that a shark could possibly travel from the ocean to a Louisiana river where it begins to hunt human prey. Given that some sharks can travel between freshwater and saltwater, this is forgivable enough.
Here endeth the leeway we grant Red Water, though. Despite the fact that this film features both Coolio and Lou Diamond Phillips (together at last!) it still suffers from a notable lack of genuine entertainment -- intentional or otherwise. It treats itself far too seriously at times and plays nearly everything too safe. You’re going to hear a lot of bad things about shark movies during the course of this list, but a boring shark movie is a truly unforgivable sin.
Poor Daryl Hannah. She may not have always made the best career decisions, but it’s shameful to think that her acting career sunk so deep at one point that she found herself in the shark infested waters of Shark Swarm. As you may gather from the title, this TV movie manages to distinguish itself slightly by implying that the toxins released by a greedy businessman are capable of causing sharks to form an unnatural swarm like we might see in bees and other flying insects.
It’s a neat enough concept, but not nearly neat enough to justify this film’s 2 hour and 47 minute runtime. No, that’s not a typo. This horribly misguided attempt at creating a genuinely dramatic shark movie is just a few minutes shy of equaling the length of the first Lord of the Rings outing. Now granted, it did initially air in two parts, but it’s somehow even more insulting to think that the filmmakers expected anyone to tune in to watch this melodramatic mess on multiple occasions.
Why Shark Attack 2? Why not Shark Attack, Shark Attack 3 or any other number of awful shark films? Well, this honor goes to Shark Attack 2 largely because of the film’s premise. Shark Attack 2 picks up soon after where the legendary Shark Attack left off by suggesting that one of the mutant sharks of the first film made their way to a poorly disguised Seaworld rip-off named Water World and became the park’s premiere attraction. As you might imagine, things go horribly wrong, and soon the park, as well as its annual surfing competition, are terrorized by this underwater predator.
Now, what’s particularly infuriating about that premise is that it’s more or less stolen directly from Jaws 3-D. Yes, while most movies are content with ripping off the good Jaws, this one actually decides to copy Jaws 3-D of all movies. In all fairness, it must be said that the movie also does steal from the other Jaws films as well by copying them almost shot-for-shot at several points. Regardless of what entry it’s stealing from, it always produces the same awful results.
We like to imagine that there were a series of high-profile meetings held in underground bunkers between Hollywood’s most powerful agents leading up to the release of 2012’s 2-Headed Shark Attack. We like to imagine this because it is the only way to possibly comprehend how a studio managed to get both Carmen Electra and Brooke Hogan in the same movie. Yes, these powerhouses of the silver screen managed to put aside their well-earned egos and co-exist in order to bring the world 2-Headed Shark Attack.
We really wish they hadn’t, though. While you may think the “2-Headed” portion of the title refers to the two larger-than-life leading ladies, it is actually in reference to a literal two-headed shark that decides to start picking apart wayward college students. What’s really annoying about that is this movie never once attempts to explain why this shark has two heads. Is it really too much to ask that the movie would try to offer some kind of reason for this thing’s existence? Then again, with Carmen Electra playing a college professor, perhaps it’s for the best that this movie stays away from science.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the honesty of this title? While nearly every shark movie of the last 30 years has ripped off Jaws in one way or another, here is a movie that decides to drop all the attempts at presenting itself as something genuinely creative and just says “No, this is totally Jaws, but just in Japan.” It doesn’t even matter that the movie’s real name is Psycho Shark. It will forever be Jaws in Japan.
And wow, is it ever awful. Jaws in Japan can’t decide whether or not it’s trying to be a found footage Cloverfield-style film or more of a shark movie meets anime kind of affair. Instead, it just kind of dances between both. This results in a bizarre mix of tones and cinematic shots as Jaws in Japan just kind of throws everything it has against a wall and prays that it comes together in the editing room. A similar problem exists with the film’s shark, which is either larger than a battleship or about 60 feet long, based on the needs of the director.
Of all the “shark vs. (blank)” films, why does Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus rank below the rest? Well, while just about any movie carrying a variation of that title deserves to be in the running for worst shark movie ever made, this movie holds a special place in the shark genre because of the absurd capabilities of the shark in question. No longer content with simply dominating the waters, this shark has decided to test the capabilities of his evolution by jumping hundreds of feet in the air to take down airplanes and taking sizeable chunks out of the Golden State Bridge with its teeth. This thing is incredible.
The movie’s biggest problem is that its human actors don’t seem to be having nearly as much fun with this premise as they should be. The cast (led by the one and only Lorenzo Lamas) too often plays it straight when they should just follow the shark’s lead by testing the full range of their acting abilities. Well, there’s that, and the slight issue that the giant octopus in question fails to leave a notable mark on the proceedings. Step up your game, humans and giant octopi.
Most shark films have the good graces to end with the death of the monster shark. Anyone that understands anything about filmmaking, storytelling and...well, common sense will understand why this is. The 2013 made for TV movie Ghost Shark is a little different in this respect. Rather than ending with the death of a gigantic killer shark, it begins with that creature’s death at the hands of a group of redneck fishermen. Luckily for the shark (and, let’s be honest, the audience) it is able to come back as a ghost in order to seek its revenge.
Now, here’s the frustrating part about that. Despite being a ghost, this resurrected shark is still limited to traveling in water. Granted, the shark is capable of inhabiting any body of water, but how in a movie where you have a shark that has left its natural form do you not let it go wherever it pleases? The result is a surprisingly mundane little piece of shark horror that manages to entertain in a couple spots (most notably an instance in which the shark is waiting at the end of a slip and slide for its victim) but fails to provide enough amusement to rise above its awful everything else.
As a general rule, the more titles that a movie has, the greater the odds that it’s pretty awful. After all, any film that goes to such lengths to disguise itself usually does so for a reason.
Do you know what’s really funny about Hammerhead/Shark Frenzy/Sharkman? It’s actually got a pretty interesting premise. Hammerhead starts with the death of a young man named Paul Young who succumbs to kidney cancer. Years later, his father invites the doctors that worked on his son to a private island. There he reveals that he was able to save Paul by injecting him with shark DNA (as you do) and now he intends for his son/shark mutant creation to kill the doctors as a measure of revenge. It’s not exactly original, but it’s not bad.
Where things go bad quickly is when the creature begins its rampage. This has to be the dullest movie about a vengeful land shark ever made. This monster splits his time between being a generic stalking murderer and a generic stalking shark, leaving you to wonder just what it was everyone involved was trying to accomplish when the shark movie ante has been raised so much.
Mako: The Jaws of Death has the privilege of being the oldest entrant on this list. Released just one year after Jaws, it was part of that initial wave of films that wrongfully believed that audiences were simply hungry for more sharks on film. As such, they were quick to oblige them with an endless stream of generic Jaws rip-offs trying to make a quick buck.
Mako isn’t like that, though we wish it was. It tries to put a twist on the basic shark movie concept by presenting the story of a man that suddenly gains the ability to control sharks who he now sees as his friends. For much of the film, Mako is simply a poorly made low budget shark flick. Where things quickly go crazy is when the main character is approached by a strip club owner named Barney that believes his shows will be improved by the presence of sharks. This bizarre and incredibly overweight man kicks off a series of incredibly outlandish sequences that are so loosely edited together that it almost seems that they’re not even from the same movie. It must be seen to be believed.
Brooke Hogan strikes again! Yes, the second or third most famous member of the Hogan family (based on who is being sued at the moment) makes another appearance on this list courtesy of her role in the aptly titled Sand Sharks. In an effort to expand a shark’s terror zone by a fair margin, Sand Sharks presents a kind of shark that is also capable of traveling under the sand as well as underwater. Now if you’re thinking to yourself “But that means this isn’t really a shark movie anymore, doesn’t it?” then you’re missing the point. The point is that this movie should never have been made regardless of what genre it pledges allegiance too.
As you might imagine, Sand Sharks has exactly one trick up its sleeve, and it makes every effort to stretch that trick across an hour and a half of “entertainment.” Rather than do the decent thing and just try to mimic Tremors as closely as possible, this film seems to labor under the delusion that every instance of seeing a shark on land is amusing in and of itself. It couldn’t be more wrong.
Sand Sharks is awful because its rather basic premise is exhausted within minutes. Attack of the Jurassic Shark (commonly shortened to Jurassic Shark so you don’t have to talk about the film quite so much) one-ups it by showcasing its most clever element right in the title. Yes, that really awful pun that targets two classic Steven Spielberg movies is indeed the best thing that this film has going for it.
But we'll humor those that want to know just how bad this movie really is. What you’ll find in Jurassic Shark are all the things that you expect from a bad shark movie (terrible special effects, awful acting, non-existent plot, etc.) but what Jurassic Shark forgets to do is bother to even try to find that fine line that makes bad films so bad that they’re good. This results in a movie that you would almost be able to appreciate as a sort of parody of the production seen in softcore adult films if you weren’t convinced that the filmmakers genuinely believed they were making something better than they actually were. There was a time when this film occupied the #2 slot on the IMDB bottom 100 films of all-time. That’s too great of an honor for this movie.
You can’t go into a shark movie expecting good special effects. Even Jaws was infamously plagued by special effects troubles, and that is far and away the best shark film that we’re ever going to get. That being said, Megalodon deserves a special spot in the CGI hall of fame for its stunningly awful use of computer graphics.
Though it was released in 2002, you’d be forgiven for believing that Megalodon was made sometime in the early ‘90s when CGI was becoming just popular enough to make appearances in even low-budget films, but not so popular that most everyone was able to pull them off in a somewhat passable manner. They are astoundingly bad. You’ve seen effects this bad in schlock fests before, but what sets Megalodon apart is that relies so heavily on its special effects. There are scenes that are 90% CGI and they are bad enough to make you want to write an apology letter for whatever hatred you harbor over what George Lucas’ did to the Star Wars prequels. This movie is certainly bad, but its CGI makes it almost literally unwatchable.
Here’s the thing about making a movie that’s intentionally bad. While there is a certain merit to simply saying “to hell with it” and going for enjoyably bad entertainment, the problem is that it’s not as easy as you may think to make a movie that’s amusingly awful. In a nutshell, this is the problem with Super Shark. Though its generic title may not give it away, this has to be one of the most intentionally absurd shark films ever made. Every scene in this movie tries to top the scene that came before by dialing up the wackiness dial well past its intended range, which perfectly recreates the sensation of watching a stand-up comedian try to get out of bombing on stage by firing off jokes as quickly as possible.
The whole thing comes to a head during a sequence where there worst CGI tank you’ve ever seen transforms into the worst CGI mech you’ve ever seen to engage in a fight with the worst CGI shark you’ve ever seen. It’s at this point that you must now determine whether everyone involved with the movie hates the potential audience or if they simply had no clue what they were doing.
The term “losing faith in the entirety of humanity” gets tossed around a lot these days when it should ideally be reserved for incidents of great tragedy. We try to make to make sure that the incident in question is at least worse than Jersey Shore Shark Attack before electing to drop that particular phrase.
So back in 2012, some horribly misguided producer felt it would be a great idea to capitalize on both the popularity of the MTV reality show The Jersey Shore (despite the fact that nobody cared about the show by this point) and the resurfacing sharksploitation genre. What we get is a film that is far worse than you could ever imagine such a thing being. The movie's characters are direct rip-offs of the Jersey Shore crew, and we're sad to report that not nearly enough of them are killed horribly by sharks to possibly justify treating this movie as even a guilty pleasure. If you’re going to populate your film with intentionally unlikable characters, is it really so much to ask that they all die in entertainingly elaborate ways?
Technically speaking, Jaws: The Revenge is not quite as awful as some of the other movies on this list. Its premise isn’t quite as dreadful as Jersey Shore Shark Attack, it’s effects are not nearly as bad as Megalodon and its acting is...well, okay the acting is pretty bad. But still, it’s got more merit than many of the movies on this list.
However, it also has the Jaws name, which ends up being its greatest downfall. Unlike many of these other shark movies that were mentioned before, we have the painful suspicion that The Revenge was intended to be a truly dramatic movie, which makes it all the more awful. There really is no way to forgive this movie for its painfully bad premise (a shark that we’re actually supposed to believe is capable of seeking revenge), intolerable characters, and effects so bad that they decide to have the shark randomly blow up at the end just to disguise how bad the model looks. It’s a movie that's efforts are best summarized by actor Michael Caine who said of his role in the film: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific!"
What do you think is the worst shark movie ever? Did we forget your favorite? Let us know in the comments.