The last frontier may not be space, but the deep blue sea. There are things we can’t even begin to understand in the deepest recesses of our oceans. We are only just beginning to explore these areas. The Challenger Deep is the deepest known point of the Mariana Trench. The US has recorded depths of 36,070 feet. Things live in the intense pressure and dark that are unimaginable. The Kristen Stewart fronted Underwater, billed as Alien underwater, comes out in two days. To get everyone prepared, here are all the best underwater horror and sci-fi movies.
Hired by Martin (Meg Foster), the head of a major corporation, a crew including geologist Steven Beck (Peter Weller) descends to the ocean’s depths for a mining project. When the undersea explorers find a sunken ship and investigate, they inadvertently bring a malevolent life form onboard their vessel. The creature kills some crew members and causes them to mutate, resulting in a battle for survival against an unknown force far below the surface of the ocean.
This movie was the first film to be tapped as Alien underwater. While it wasn’t exactly the masterpiece of pacing, acting, and EFX that Ridley Scott’s Alien was, it is a pretty entertaining bit of silly fun. If you have a few hours to kill you could do far worse, plus there are quite a few similarities to another favorite, The Thing.
7. The Poseidon Adventure
En route from New York City to Greece on New Year’s Eve, majestic passenger ship the S.S. Poseidon is overtaken by a tidal wave. With the captain (Leslie Nielsen) dead, surviving passengers, including the passionate Rev. Scott (Gene Hackman), band together in the ship’s ballroom. The group struggles to avert fires, flooding, structural instability, and mechanical malfunctions as they make their way through a maze of ladders and tunnels in their desperate attempt to escape a watery grave.
The original undersee film from 1972 is by no means the best on this list, but it one of the forefathers of deep-sea horror and deserves respect. Everyone’s favorite Coach Gene Hackman is fantastic in this and although the effects don’t hold up the concepts absolutely do. There are no monsters per se, but humans, after all, are often the most monstrous of everything. It’s scary, funny, well-acted, and one of the most relevant sea movies even after all these years.
6. DeepStar Six
A group of U.S. Navy engineers, led by Capt. Laidlaw (Taurean Blacque), are building an underwater base when they inadvertently disturb the lair of a gigantic creature. The monster attacks, and the crew, including lovers Collins (Nancy Everhard) and McBride (Greg Evigan), tries to evacuate, but the facility is badly damaged. After the exterior is breached, the increasingly desperate people become separated from one another, and the creature begins to pick them off one by one.
If this film sounds familiar that’s because it’s basically the plot for Underwater. Basically we have been to the bottom of the ocean before and nothing good came from it. This was the first of the four underwater movies to come out in 1989 with Leviathan, Lords of the Deep, and The Abyss rounding out the quartet. It wasn’t well-received by critics but it is actually a decent little flick. Kane Hodder, Jason Vorhees from Friday the Thirteenth, was the stunt coordinator, and he does solid work. Don’t let the haters dissuade you, it’s easily worth a watch.
5. The Bay
The residents of a seaside Maryland community become the unfortunate hosts of mutant, waterborne parasites that take control of their minds and bodies.
It isn’t technically underwater but the creatures, Cymothoa Exigua or the tongue-eating louse are very weird and very real. The crustaceans gone wild in this found footage film attach themselves to fish tongues and eat them until nothing exists but the parasite itself. The entire movie is spliced together stories and footage that for three-fourths the movie is genuinely captivating. There is something terrifying about these real-life parasites. We don’t even need undiscovered beasts, what we know exists is scary enough.
Previously thought to be extinct, a massive creature attacks a deep-sea submersible, leaving it disabled and trapping the crew at the bottom of the Pacific. With time running out, a visionary oceanographer recruits rescue diver Jonas Taylor to save the crew and the sea itself from an unimaginable threat — a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark known as the Megalodon.
The novel this movie is Based on, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, is really good. The film translation takes some major liberties but is still fun. Megaladon were real dinos that lived in the Early Miocene to the Pliocene millions of years ago. The average Great White Shark is roughly 20 feet and these beasts could be as large as 80 feet long. While most scientists don’t believe they could still exist, most maintain a 1% chance that they might still roam the sea. That is more than enough for me to buy in all the way. Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, and Jason Statham are all great for different reasons and the shark is massive. An expert swimmer, Statham does most of his own swim scenes and I’m all about that. Critics hated this movie, I unapologetic ally loved it.
3. Deep Blue Sea
On an island research facility, Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is harvesting the brain tissue of DNA-altered sharks as a possible cure for Alzheimer’s disease. When the facility’s backers send an executive (Samuel L. Jackson) to investigate the experiments, a routine procedure goes awry and a shark starts attacking the researchers. Now, with sharks outnumbering their human captors, McAlester and her team must figure out a way to stop them from escaping to the ocean and breeding.
The second shark movie on this list, most of the movie takes place in the submerged environment of a shark research facility performing genetic engineering. While the reasons to do the research were altruistic, the consequences are rough. It’s probably not a great idea to make a fantastic apex predator even smarter. LL Cool Jay’s Preacher and his parrot literally steal the show. Samuel L Jackson, Thomas Jane, and Saffron Burrows are all great. Jackson’s infamous shark scene is worth watching for if nothing else.
When psychologist Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman) wrote a report for the government on how to deal with extraterrestrial life forces, he didn’t expect his recommendations to be used. Now that a secret government agency is investigating what may be an alien spaceship that has been discovered partially buried on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, Norman finds that the plan he outlined is being put into effect and that the team he named in his report has been assembled.
The ensemble psychological, sci-fi thriller is fantastic from top to bottom. The source material from Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name is easily one of his best. The cast is star-studded with Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, and Liev Schreiber to name just a few. This time the threat isn’t a sea creature, but aliens or something even weirder. There are sea snakes, killer jellyfish, massive bronze balls, and giant squids. What more could you want?
Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some issues to work out. They are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL (Michael Biehn) with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on Earth.
One of my most favorite movies of any genre the aliens from the deep sea are still some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I have a soft spot for Ed Harris and Michael Biehn(Terminator) makes a deliciously deranged Big Bad. James Cameron’s well-received film is expertly written, directed and acted. The liquid oxygen breathing scenes are some of the most inventive things not to mention they are based in reality. As awesome as this movie is to watch evidently it was horrible to make. There are reports of fights between Harris and Cameron and the cast was literally subjected to chlorine burns, near-drownings, and hypothermia. It almost makes me feel bad about loving it so much
With everything that is floating in the water, it makes you wonder why we all love to swim in it. New explorations and discoveries every day mean there is no shortage of material to haunt our underwater dreams. If fact is scarier than fiction for you, here are all the scariest sea monsters that exist right now. Underwater premiers Friday in theaters everywhere. Watch for our review later this week.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.