The Best Underwater Terror Movies

We have several reasons why you should be afraid of the water.

Editorby Editor

Few things are more fundamentally terrifying than knowing you’re prey to some unknown creature lurking in the depths, and Hollywood has fed well on our love of terror. With scores of prehistoric man-eating predators on the loose in Piranha 3D and heading to home video (Out on Blu-ray & DVD January 11th!), we took a look at the top ten Best Underwater Terror movies. It’s time to explore creatures of the deep, unexplained horrors and more…

 

Jaws

 

 

 

What other film in history has caused millions of people to be afraid to enter the water? Only Jaws, who stoked the fears of an entire generation with the story of a tyrannical great white shark wreaking havoc on a small beach town. Steven Spielberg brings a true classic of underwater horror to life in this unforgettable sequel-spawning 1975 terror-stoker. 

 

The Abyss

 

 

Before taking us to Pandora or sinking the Titanic, James Cameron made magic with this science fiction horror film. The crew of a new, experimental submersion machine investigating a mysterious submarine crash encounters an alien species that may be hostile or friendly – it’s hard to tell from the ocean floor. Paranoid delusions and secret sub-missions lead to a volatile underwater environment, where the danger between crewmates may eclipse that of the possible menace lurking outside. Brilliantly shot and fantastically played, Abyss is a must-see for any Cameron fan. 

 

Piranha

 

 

It’s a Hollywood rule that gene-splicing experiments called ‘Operation Razorteeth’ can never end well, particularly if they produce a mutant strain of piranha fish that are aggressively ferocious and particularly fond of the taste of human flesh. Originally meant for deployment in the Vietnam War, the piranhas inevitably escape their enclosure (with a little human help, of course) and head downstream to various beaches and resorts, feasting on the summertime swimmers. Cue the coverup conspiracy! Two sequels later, the piranhas are still swimming strong – and hungrier than ever. 

 

Sphere

 

 

 

A thousand feet below the surface of the South Pacific, a huge metal sphere rests on the ocean floor. A group of American scientists rush to explore the vessel, and find themselves in a nightmare they may never be able to explain – or survive. Those who aren’t stung to death by jellyfish or killed by a giant squid still have little hope for escape as their minds are slowly ripped apart by a conscious, massive spaceship at least three hundred years old. A-listers Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel Jackson lead the cast.

 

Leviathan

 

 

Horrors of the deep will have a hard time topping this one. deep-sea miners discover a Soviet wreck and bring back a dangerous cargo to their base on the ocean floor with horrifying results. The crew of the mining base must fight to survive against a contagious genetic mutation that tears them apart one by one. As body parts morph into vicious, tentacles creatures, the surviving crew slowly learn that the ship they’ve discovered had been experimenting with genetic mutagens – and they’ve infected  

 

Below

 

 

On a routine rescue mission during World War II, the submarine U.S.S. Tiger Shark encounters hostile German forces and suffers heavy damage. That’s when mysterious and horrifyingly deadly events begin to occur at an accelerated rate, resulting in a bloodbath that leaves very few survivors. There aren’t many WWII underwater terror films, so it’s safe to call Below the best among them.

 

Dagon

 

 

 

Built around the short story by H.P. Lovecraft, Dagon tells the story of Paul Marsh, a young man stranded with his girlfriend in a filthy fishing village after a boating accident. They soon find that the town inhabitants are anything but human, and there are sinister plans for the shipwrecked couple and their friends. Terrifying, murderous events follow, resulting in a perilous showdown with Dagon, a monstrous god of the sea. 

 

Barracuda 

 

 

A secret government experiment goes awry (as they so often do), and the drinking water of an entire city is tainted with a chemical which causes people to go into unholy fits of rage. The water carries on its course and flows into the sea, where it turns a school of barracudas into man-eating monsters, attacking divers and swimmers in a bloodthirsty frenzy.