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Here are the most memorable movie shark attacks to date


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There have been a lot of shark movies over the years; some masterful, some disastrous, but none can reasonably be called boring. Given the kind of action thrills shark movies can provide, its no surprise that there have been many memorable on-screen shark attacks.

With the upcoming The Meg, out Friday, this trend looks set to continue as former Navel Captain Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) heads a rescue mission to save the crew of a sunken submersible and face the monster that haunts him…a Carcharodon Megalodon. If hopes that Statham will in fact punch the giant shark turn out to be true, the scene will surely go down in film history along with these other memorable shark attacks scenes.

1. Where are we going? - Jaws (1975)

A statement that will be controversial to no one, is that Jaws is the finest example of a shark movie; after all it was the first. To be such a classic a film must have many memorable moments and Jaws is no exception, from the dolly-shot on Brody’s (Roy Scheider) face during the beach attack to ‘you’re gonna need a bigger boat’. However, if you want suspense nothing can beat the opening scene; starting off almost whimsically, as youths Tom and Chrissie head to the water for a swim, the tension slowly builds as the underwater predator stalks its prey and the brilliant score (with jarring cuts to silence) make this one of the best scenes in horror cinema.

2. Here's Brucey! - Finding Nemo (2003)

Finding Nemo is a film that contains many colourful characters (often literally colourful), but we’d be lying if we didn’t have a soft spot for Bruce, the Jolly and polite Great White determined to change his nasty image (‘Fish are friends, not food’). That is until the smell of Dory’s blood revives his predatory instinct. A thrilling chase scene ensues, where you fear for the loveable Marlin and Dory, but this particular shark attack is made memorable by Bruce’s one-liners (‘I’m having fish for dinner’) and the frantic reminding’s of the twelve-step programme by his pals. 

3. Shark vs. Zombie - Zombie 2 (1979)

Not to take too much away from Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci (director of cult classics City of the Living Dead and House by the Cemetery), but if there is one thing his career is defined by, it’s this scene in his 1979 film Zombie 2, where a zombie fights a shark. Yes, this happens. Set on an island where a zombie virus breaks out, the wife of an American couple takes a scuba diving trip, only to be attacked first by a shark and then by a zombie, who fight each other after she escapes. The battle is, as you would expect, bizarre and amazing and as you would also expect, the shark proves to be the apex predator, tearing off the zombie’s arm before it swims away. 

4. You think water's fast? - Deep Blue Sea (1999)

This 1999 Renny Harlin flick is most definitely a B-Movie; you can take that any way you wish. Bosting a considerable amount of memorable faces (including Stellan Skarsgård, LL Cool J and Saffron Burrows) the biggest non-shark draw is Samuel L. Jackson as Russell Franklin, a corporate executive who has faced dangers no man should. After a genetically engineered shark escapes the underwater research facility, killing three people in the process, Franklin gives a rousing speech about group unity and human strength to unite the squabbling scientists. Then suddenly with an atrocious display of CGI he is violently pulled away by a shark, leaving a crimson pool of blood and Michael Rapaport’s confused expression. It doesn’t get more memorable than that. 

5. Resignation - Open Water (2003)

Many shark films released in the past few years are viewed (both positively and negatively) as low-budget shlock. A film that wanted to break that mould however, was 2003’s Open Water, a tense survival thriller about a couple who go on a scuba diving trip, only to be abandoned in shark infested waters when the crew of their boat accidentally leave them behind. Arguably the whole film is one slow-burning shark attack, with the sharks gradually taking chunks out of our protagonists, almost like an act of torture. But the ending is perhaps the most memorable; with her husband dead and gone, Susan (Blanchard Ryan) resigns to the fact that no one is coming to rescue her, as a mass of sharks slowly circle her. To spare herself the pain, the removes her scuba gear and drowns herself, the shot zooming out to show a wide stretch of calm water, as though nothing had happened. What is scarier after all, than uncontrollable nature? 

6. Glass breaks - Jaws 3-D (1983)

The original Jaws demonstrated the innate terror shark movies can portray. Jaws 3-D released eight years later, demonstrated the innate hilarity shark movies can portray, decades before Sharknado. While perhaps not the worst premise (Chief Brody’s sons must protect the visitors of a Sea World type resort when a great white attacks), the execution is far from Spielberg. The crowning hilarity? Probably when the shark very slowly swims (I think) up to the glass of the underwater control centre; workers screaming in panic when suddenly the shark stops and the glass unconvincingly smashes. Never mind the fact that sharks can’t stop swimming, this scene is brilliant in its stupidity.

7. Shark vs. chainsaw - Sharknado (2013) 

This may have been an instance where they came up with a great name and then based a movie around it, but you can’t deny it packed some very memorable moments into its 86-minute run time. Some notable highlights; sharks flying through the air and dismantling a Ferris wheel, John Heard being swallowed whole after trying to rescue a dog, Tara Reid’s lack of a reaction when her boyfriend is munched on. But the one moment that stands above the rest; when the tornado portion of the sharknado finally dies down, sharks plummet to the ground, bringing more destruction. Trying to protect his family, our hero Fin (Ian Ziering) jumps into the open mouth of a falling shark, chainsaw at the ready. Miraculously he survives and saws his way out, pulling out the unconscious Nova as he does. This scene is bizarre even by sci-fi movie standards. But we’d be lying if we said it didn’t make us grin. 

The Meg is out in UK cinemas on 10th August.

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