Best Horror Movies That Star the Ocean

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go in the Water ...

Surfer duck diving under a wave, Hawaii, America, USA
mattpaul/Getty Images

Water covers more than two-thirds of the Earth, and yet it remains so mysterious -- and anything mysterious is ripe for horror movies to exploit. Here are some of the best aquatic horror/suspense films that turn the ocean into a scary threat. These are listed in descending order, with the most horrifying at the end of the list.

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'Open Water' (2003)

Open Water
© Lionsgate

This surprise hit micro-budget pic is a terrifyingly realistic re-creation of an actual event that happened when a boat mistakenly left a pair of scuba divers to fend for themselves in the middle of shark-infested waters.

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'Deep Blue Sea' (1999)

Deep Blue Sea
© Warner Bros.

Smart, genetically altered sharks are accidentally let loose in an underwater research facility in this fast and furious genre fare with blockbuster ambitions.

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'Lake Placid' (1999)

Lake Placid
© 20th Century Fox

Written with a deft comedic touch and featuring a star-studded cast that includes Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt and Betty White, "Lake Placid "delivers more humor than horror as a 30-foot Asian crocodile finds its way to a rural Maine lake.

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'The Reef' (2011)

The Reef
© Image

This tense thriller plays like an Australian "Open Water," with a bigger body count and a bit more Hollywood-style action while still intimate enough to place you in the midst of the often-shocking action as a group of friends try to swim through shark-infested waters to an island after their boat capsizes.

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'Creepshow 2' (1987)

Creepshow 2
© New World

For my money, the most memorable story in this horror anthology sequel is the simple but effective "The Raft," based on a Stephen King short story about a group of friends who become trapped on a raft in a lake by a Blob-like man-eating creature resembling an oil slick.

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'Sphere' (1998)

© Warner Bros.

Like an underwater "Prometheus," this star-studded, high-minded, fairly nonsensical sci-fi thriller asks way more questions than it answers, but the journey is thoughtful and compelling enough to enjoy the buildup before the groaner of an ending.

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'Satan's Triangle' (1975)

Satan's Triangle

This made-for-TV movie features familiar faces like Kim Novak ("Vertigo"), Doug McClure (who starred in the lesser aquatic horror flick "Humanoids From the Deep"), Ed Lauter (​"Cujo") and Alejandro Rey ("The Swam") in a creepy story about a Coast Guard lieutenant who arrives to aid a derelict schooner in the Bermuda Triangle and has to unravel the mystery of what happened to the four dead crew mates, leaving a lone survivor.

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'Below' (2002)

© Buena Vista

Directed by David Twohy ("Pitch Black") and written by Oscar nominee Darren Aronofsky, this unique blend of war movie, murder mystery and ghost story is set during World War II as a U.S. submarine crew finds their vessel haunted by a ghost with a grudge.

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'Alligator' (1980)

© BLC Services

You don't have to travel to the ocean or a remote swamp to have a deadly run-in with aquatic creatures; they can be right beneath your feet, in the sewers, where baby alligators grow to enormous size by eating the carcasses of test subject animals.

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'Deep Rising' (1998)

Deep Rising
© Hollywood Pictures

A real guilty pleasure full of over-the-top action, R-rated violence and the sense of fun that would make director Stephen Sommers' ​"Mummy" movies so popular.

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'Triangle' (2010)

© First Look Pictures

This ultra-twisty, thoroughly engrossing "Twilight Zone"-ish mind trip about survivors of a capsized boat who take shelter on a seemingly abandoned ocean liner may leave you wondering what the heck just happened.

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'Creature From the Black Lagoon' (1954)

Creature from the Black Lagoon
© Universal

Picturesque underwater photography and a menacing baddie -- the last of the great Universal monsters -- highlight this classic tale of an amphibious humanoid discovered by explorers in the Amazon.

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'Dagon' (2002)

© Lionsgate

In perhaps the best cinematic adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's work (in this case, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth"), survivors of a shipwreck end up in a creepy seaside village whose strange, semi-human residents worship an ancient fish god.

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'Dead Calm' (1989)

Dead Calm
© Warner Bros.

This tense and wonderfully acted thriller helped launch the career of Nicole Kidman, who stars in this cat-and-mouse game as a woman whose relaxing yacht excursion with her husband is interrupted when they rescue a dangerous stranger from a sinking ship.

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'Jaws' (1975)

Jaws movie poster
© Universal

Is there any other choice? "Jaws" is an instant classic that likely affected every aquatic creature feature to come after it, and it still stands as the standard for watery fear.