When you’re on holiday, you’ll more than likely hit the beach and go for a swim in the sea and maybe even take a boat ride. However, cinema likes to take these pleasant memories and create an experience that will make you think twice about dipping your toe into that great ocean of H2O ever again!
To help give you
wet dreams nightmares, we, the team at HorrorCultFilms, have decided to share with you our Scariest Underwater Movies
Mocata – The Abyss
When talking about about the big-blue it’s probably typical of me to choose something a bit left field. Things like Das Boot or that chapter from Creepshow with Leslie Neilsen spring to mind as particularly stomach churning. But I have to go with something less overtly horror themed here, and pick James Cameron’s sci-fi classic. People are drowned and crushed by the never-ending blackness. There’s pressure sickness and queasy ideas about breathing liquids to survive. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s encounter with the freezing water is particularly unsettling. It might not be pure scare power but some moments are sure to give you ‘the shakes’…
Cludge Judge – Jaws
Steven Spielberg’s thrilling blockbuster didn’t only make me wary of stepping into the sea but also my bath. Crammed with terrifying images, John William’s knockout score and a killer last third, Jaws just keeps on getting better until the final bloody confrontation between man and beast. A classic thriller.
Ross Hughes – Jaws
I hate to be in the norm as there are many deep sea horror films that I love. Deep Rising has to have mention, alongside the underrated Leviathan. But there is only one film to this day, that ranks as the number one for me and that is of course the unsurprising Spielberg classic JAWS.
Not heard of it? Well, let me explain! You see there is this bastard of a shark who has decided to pay the small town of Amity Island a visit and munch on a few teens. First up was poor Chrissie Watkins who must have realised while being dragged through the sea that her decision to go late night skinny dipping was a massive bad one.
The Shark continues to torment the poor town until three men with balls of steel and a load of yellow barrels – when in reality all they needed was a bigger boat! – decide to fight back and what follows is one of cinema’s greatest ever masterpieces; always copied, never bettered.
Now there are many scenes from Jaws you could marvel at. For me, Quint’s celebrated monologue about the Indianapolis disaster is the best moment in the entire film,. However, for balls-out shit scary, it was a close run thing because the score by John Williams still makes me wary to even jump in the shower; it was the moment Brody and Hooper stumble upon the empty boat of Fisherman Ben Gardner, and Hooper, minus the cage, decides to go underwater to investigate. What follows is one of my childhood memories of actually screaming out in sheer fright and to this day is one of my cherished moments in all film.
It’s why Bruce the Shark is the ultimate underwater horror for me and I very much doubt I will ever see anything to match it again! Well, until some idiot decides to remake the film of course!……….
Dr Lenera – Open Water
For some reason I’ve always thought of Open Water as being found footage, but on re-watching it again last night, it’s not really. Nor is it anywhere near the best water-based horror film or shark movie. However, this micro budget, slow burning true story, which explodes into almost unbearable intensity in its third act, makes the simple sight of a shark’s fin scarier than probably any other film, while also playing brilliantly on universal fears of drowning, of being alone, of being forgotten about, and of knowing that you’ll die but having forever to think about it.
Juan Vasquez – 47 Meters Down
My favourite scary underwater scene is from the silly yet rather underrated 47 Meters Down. Now I know that the majority takes place underwater so it’s a bit too easy, but the tension running throughout is extremely unnerving. This will be a slight spoiler, as it happens towards the end, but it’s such a great shot, and an idea that’s been used in many a scary film, but this worked for me.
With 47 meters of killer shark infested water between the stranded sisters Lisa and Kate, and the boat they came in on, and their oxygen almost depleted, there’s no choice but to swim for it. 47 Meters, in pitch black water, a lacerated leg and a gravely wounded Kate to carry. The respirators they use have a radio system but only come in to range when closer together.
Lisa manages to swim up far enough to make contact with the boats captain. From here he advises her what to do, included making brief stops at certain depths, through fear of the bends. At certain times, she’ll drop a flare just to be sure there’s nothing else lurking around.
The majority of this scene plays out in the pitch black or with limited vision, making it quite tense. With only a few meters to go, Lisa is advised to hold her position and take a moment to adjust to the change in pressure. Things are already nail bitingly tense as it is, and then Lisa decides to light another flare. Red light fills the screen for the briefest of moments and where we see the girls completely surrounded by sharks. Panicking, Lisa swims as fast as she can to the surface, eventually breaks the water and is dragged aboard by the boats crew. Relieved and distraught, her vision starts to blur and the blood from a cut on her hand starts to float upwards.
In a cruel sting of fate, she’s back on the ocean floor in the detached shark cage. The entire feat of heroism was a hallucination caused by the bends, as a result of not changing over her oxygen tank properly. Her sister is still in grave danger and the sharks are still circling.
The underwater thriller that sends me the chills, even to this very day, is a little known movie called Pressure. The film follows a group of underwater pipeline welders guys who end up trapped on the sea bed after their diving bell gets disconnected from the ship above. With a limited supply of oxygen, the men must make tough decisions that their life depends on. It’s an absolutely terrifying and claustrophobic experience as the sense of dread and doom sinks in. I’ve known a couple of guys who do underwater welding and now I know why they’re paid so much money!