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TOP 10 UNCONVENTIONAL SHARK MOVIES YOU CAN REALLY SINK YOUR TEETH INTO

Written by Kat Albrecht

15-foot great white sharks that terrorize the oceans?
Boring.

Determined super-predators out to kill one group of teenagers in particular?
Passé.

Sharks that swim through sand, go to outer space, and arrive with the sound of jingle bells?
Sign me up.

Now, I love a good traditional shark film now and again. But sometimes you just need something a little bit stupider and a little bit more fun. The films on this list will give you just that. A mix of big budget and no budget, I’ll tell you why I love the shark and why I love the film.

Above all, unconventional shark movies require their viewer to have a sense of fun and a desire to suspend their disbelief. Perhaps this goes without saying, but if you’re watching Ghost Shark to see plausible science: I have some bad news for you. But if you’re looking for a good time and a send-up of the traditional shark movie, then this is the list for you.

Without further ado here are my Top 10 shark movies that give you a little something extra.

small-coverBuy from Amazon 10. Ghost Shark

Why I love the shark: The shark is a ghost. That means it can do shark things AND ghost things, which is equal parts comedy and terrifying.

Why I like the film: Ghost Shark makes this list for the overt sense of fun ascribed to the premise. Allow me to explain to you the logistics of how a ghost shark moves: any amount of water can spawn the ghost shark from hell. Imagine those possibilities. Actually, you don’t have to imagine, since Ghost Shark delivers them to you straight up. My favorite scene in this film tests the physical dynamics of ghost shark movement and involves a bucket, a slip ‘n slide, and a plumber. Just go watch it.

small-coverBuy from Amazon 9. Jersey Shore Shark Attack

Why I love the shark: It eats Joey Fatone. Okay, I actually don’t know much about Joey Fatone, but when that shark is tearin’ up his heart, you’ll want him back – this I promise you.

Why I like the film: This film is a microcosm of the 2000s that provides some fascinating insight into popular culture while still giving you a good time. It’s a parody of Jersey Shore, in the most obvious way, and a send-up of the sharksploitation genre. Watch this movie and some of the source material and you’ll really feel the full effect of the comedy.

Sand Sharks Poster SmallBuy from Amazon 8. Sand Sharks

Why I love the shark: The sharks swim through the sand, better, they swim through the sand hilariously fast. We also, as the plural title suggests, get a whole bunch of them.

Why I like the film: Sand Sharks does something similar but different from number 9 on this list. The characters presented to us in Sand Sharks are caricatures of themselves in a way that’s heavy-handed enough to feel to intentional. Even amid this obvious satire, the internal story holds up fairly well with some attempts at a scientific explanation for how sharks swim through sand and with some likeable characters. There are also some extremely funny shots of a rave on the beach that are worth it in their own right.

The Meg Poster SmallBuy from Amazon 7. The Meg

Why I love the shark: This film features the megalodon, which is extinct and big enough to make a Great White Shark look like it belongs in a fish tank.

Why I like the film: Okay, is The Meg the most unconventional shark movie out there? Probably not, and for that it doesn’t get too high on my list. However, this is a great option for someone who looking for a shark film that keeps a sense of fun but combines it with higher production values and some familiar faces. There are also some really cool exploration shots of the Mariana Trench, and the film is a really solid projection of the ‘exploring the ocean where humans shouldn’t have gone’ environmental trope.

Ice Sharks Poster SmallBuy from Amazon 6. Ice Sharks

Why I love the shark: Modelled after the Greenland Shark with some Great White in there, these sharks smell of urine (related to the high concentration of urea in the bodies of real-life Greenland Sharks) while they use their fins to tear through ice. Iconic lore.

Why I like the film: Ice Sharks is absolutely a ‘shitty shark movie of the week’ kind of movie and I love it. A group of scientists is stuck in an arctic research lab battling against sharks. The sharks have a tenuous backstory, slice through ice with their fins, and the sharks jump onto the ice. If you’re looking for a mindless fun Friday night flick – this is a solid pick.

Santa Jaws Poster SmallBuy from Amazon 5. Santa Jaws

Why I love the shark: Conjured from the mind of a creative child, we no longer need Santa, we have Santa Jaws. And yes, he wears the hat.

Why I like the film: This is a great example of a shark movie that is so obviously in on the joke, if you don’t get it, that’s on you. A literal comic book come to life, it’s hard not to root for the shark in this one, just because the premise is so lovely and he’s so well decorated. Bring it home for the holidays and impress your friends and family with how much Christmas spirit you have.

Swamp Shark Poster SmallBuy from Amazon 4. Swamp Shark

Why I love the shark: This shark is among the more realistic on this list, except that it is evolutionarily adapted to be super strong and armored. It also gets up to some impressive feats: like eating a whole bunch of alligators.

Why I like the film: This is a great environment for a shark film, with a solid acting job by the main cast. The dynamic between characters is well developed and successful, with a fun script that gives the characters some unique dimension and makes you really want to root for them. The setting is fantastic, giving us visually stunning angles on the natural environment and the water. They also don’t overplay the shark effects, so even if the CGI isn’t for you, it won’t overshadow the heart of the film. This is my favorite of the ‘shark in a weird place, doing shark stuff’ genre of SyFy movies where the plot isn’t too complicated – but it doesn’t have to be.

Sharknado Poster SmallBuy from Amazon 3. Sharknado

Why I love the shark: It’s absurd, it’s ridiculous, it’s a tornado (or waterspout) made of sharks. Just like iPhones and Pumpkin Spice Lattes, millions of people can’t be wrong – and over 2.9 million people tuned in for Sharknado 2, dethroning Sharktopus as Syfy’s most-watched original movie at the time.1

Why I like the film: Whether you think it’s overrated or appropriately lauded, you can’t deny that Sharknado changed the game with its 2013 release, going from a joke film to a global phenomenon. Sharknado earns a top spot on the list not just for its original entry, but also on the grounds that it gave us Sharknado 2: The Second One, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, and The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time.

1Source: https://variety.com/2014/tv/ratings/syfys-sharknado-2-scares-up-3-9-million-viewers-in-premiere-1201272035/

Deep Blue Sea Poster SmallBuy from Amazon 2. Deep Blue Sea

Why I love the shark: The sharks in this film are smart, perhaps too smart. But it’s refreshing to see sharks that have goals beyond eating people.

Why I like the film: The 1999 effects hold up and the characters in the film are either heart-wrenchingly likeable or at least sufficiently complex. Deep Blue Sea is a really strong mix of action-movie-meets-shark-movie that is a great choice for groups of movie watchers who aren’t ready to go all-in on silly shark movies just yet. There is tension and suspense, but there are also smart moments of levity that keep this film fast-paced and exciting. The film also deals very directly with human culpability and responsibility, which prevents the sharks from being treated as one-dimensional villains.

Bad Cgi Sharks Poster SmallBuy from Amazon 1. Bad CGI Sharks

Why I love the shark: The sharks in this film are genius. They are shittily drawn, swim through the air, and occasionally pause to render – but are terrifying to the characters in the film. Bravo.

Why I like the film: Bad CGI Sharks is a loving send-up of the classic shark film, and it succeeds marvelously. Two brothers – who are as different as brothers could be – must battle poorly animated CGI sharks who escape into the real world. A hidden gem of a film that disguises how clever it is by being truly entertaining. Folks who like shark movies will love this, folks who don’t know anything about shark movies will love it, too.

Dishonorable Mention

In my never-ending quest to find the best shark movies on the market I have also encountered some real stinkers. There are a number of shark films that have a great title and a hilarious premise but are largely unwatchable. Some of the films earlier on this list are ‘so bad they’re good,’ but some are just: bad. Here I present to you one such film: Virus Shark.

I could not believe this is one hour and 14 minutes long because it feels like a lifetime, especially when it essentially begins a whole new plot (that has no sharks in it) halfway through. There is a lot of promise here with a Covid-19-inspired shark film taking place at the bottom of the ocean in a science lab, but the film can't deliver. The premise is great, the trailer is great, some of the side characters do a solid job. But that’s about it.

The first trouble is that the sharks growl. That’s hilarious – if it’s a shark movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This, however, is a painfully serious effort that appears to have been filmed in a middle school. My favorite part is when they seem to accidentally film a member of the crew in the reflection of a computer. But still, the biggest problem is I didn’t feel like I was laughing with the movie, but rather in spite of it.

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