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What better way to showcase the killer fish film Piranha 3D than by giving you a list of more aquatic horror movies with which to continue the party? From the origins of the Piranha films to humanoid killers from the deep and Lovecraftian horrors, we've got a lot of horror classics and some cult horror to share. The ocean is a primarily unexplored, mysterious part of the world that has fired up the imaginations of horror writers and horror filmmakers every bit as much as space has. All you have to think about is the massive success of Jaws, one of the greatest horror movies ever made. There will be no sharks on this list because there are plenty of other monsters from the ocean and lakes to make you want to stay out of any water, including your bathtub, forever. If you want to listen to more aquatic horror, you can check out Fangoria's Nightmare University podcast with Rebekah McKendry and her guests, writer Josh Miller and director Stephen Scarlata, on one of the best years for aquatic horror, 1989.

  • Piranha (1978)

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    Piranha 3D is effectively a remake of Joe Dante's 1978 comedy horror film Piranha. If by chance you haven't watched it, you really should. It was one of the horror films written by independent filmmaker John Sayles (Lone Star, Matewan), who also wrote the script for The Howling. He is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter who uses his money from writing genre films and doing script doctor work to make his own films. Not only are you getting Joe Dante's direction, but you also have a really good script that is aware of genre tropes and traditions. Piranha is admittedly one of the movies made by Roger Corman at AIP to cash in on the Jaws phenomenon, but Spielberg himself approved of the film, and thus Universal did not sue the filmmakers. It stars Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, and Dick Miller.

  • Piranha II: The Spawning (1982)

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    Piranha II: The Spawning is the sequel to the original Piranha and is most notable as the feature film debut of James Cameron as a director. Cameron worked as a special effects artist and was promoted to directing duties after the original director was fired. Since the film's production was troubled, it is unknown how much of the film is Cameron's vision. It stars Tricia O'Neil, Steve Marachuk, and Lance Henriksen. Still, James Cameron is the director of record, and I think it is worth a watch simply on that basis.

  • Deep Rising (1988)

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    On a luxury cruise ship's first voyage, unknown creatures attack the ship, killing the crew and passengers. Mercenaries have hired a boat captain to take them to the cruise ship, Argonautica, to rob the passengers. When they get there, the ship is deserted. Members of the mercenary crew start to disappear, and the cruise ship's owner theorizes that the monsters might be a form of Cambrian worm called the Ottoia. The captain of the smuggler boat, John Finnegan (Treat Williams), does his best with his crew member Joey Pantucci (Kevin J. O'Connor) and thief Trillian St. James (Famke Janssen) to escape the aquatic menace. The film is directed by Stephen Summers (The Mummy) and stars Anthony Heald, Wes Studi, and Djimon Hounsou. Deep Rising is a fun horror comedy and cult horror movie classic.

  • Orca (1977)

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    Okay, so I promised there would be no sharks on this list, but I never said there wouldn't be any killer whales. Orcas have been in the news this year because orcas have been ramming boats in the ocean. While no one has asked the orcas why they are doing this, people assume they are motivated by revenge against humans and their ships. It's a thing! The plot of this film is that a male orca is pursuing an Irish Canadian boat captain for revenge after the captain killed his pregnant mate and their orca baby. If you want to read more at Fangoria about this film Orca, check out that link.

  • DeepStar Six (1989)

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    In an experimental United States Naval Station in the deep ocean, a team of scientists comes up against a sea monster right before their tour is almost over. Sean S. Cunningham directs the film, yes, the one who directed Friday the 13th, and stars Taurean Blacque, Nancy Everhard, Greg Evigan, and Miguel Ferrer. The sea beast attacking the station might be a giant sea scorpion. Yeah, that doesn't sound good. On the plus side, sea scorpions or Eurypterids are extinct. Or are they? Fangoria has an article about Harry Manfredini's score to Deepstar Six from columnist Todd Gilchrist as part of his Let's Score Todd To Death column.

  • Leviathan (1989)

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    Leviathan is another film from the year 1989 that was bursting with aquatic horror films. It was directed by George P. Cosmatos, who would later go on to direct hits like the Western Tombstone and had already directed Cobra, the Sylvester Stallone movie. The monsters in the film are creatures that mutate from human bodies after they consume a liquid contaminated with a mutagen. It's the best reason why you should never drink vodka that you find in a shipwreck at the bottom of the ocean. The cast was filled with well-known actors like Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Daniel Stern, and Ernie Hudson.

  • Dagon (2001)

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    We finally got to the genuinely Lovecraftian portion of this list with Stuart Gordon's Dagon. This film was made in Spain but is still a well-done and modernized adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon and The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It is quite disturbing and accurate to the spirit of the text. Gordon's direction and the actors make this movie really work. It also takes the ideas like familial incest and monstrous sexual assault and handles them sensitively rather than exploitatively. It stars Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal,
    Raquel Meroño and Macarena Gómez in an exquisitely unhinged yet charismatic performance.

  • Underwater (2020)

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    Underwater is similar to some of the other films on this list, with a drilling and scientific research base, The Kepler 822, in the Marianas Trench under attack from mysterious creatures. However, Underwater stars Kristen Stewart and Vincent Cassel are actors who are known usually known for more dramatic work. The film wasn't very well received by the critics or the audiences, but it is a great-looking film with a cast that most other films on this list would envy. One of this film's problems is the similarity between Underwater and many of the films that have come before it.

  • Beneath (2013)

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    Beneath is an aquatic horror film directed by Larry Fessenden. While the teenagers stuck in the middle of the lake are in danger from a giant man-eating catfish, the real problem is their so-called friends, who tend to sacrifice members of their friend group to save themselves. Beneath stars Bonnie Dennison as Kitty, Daniel Zovatto as Johnny, Jonny Orsini as Simon, Chris Conroy as Matt, and Mark Margolis as Mr. Parks. Yes, the film shows the giant man-eating catfish, and I must admit that Larry Fessenden's creature design is really good.

  • Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

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    The time has come to discuss the aquatic horror film that has echoes of H.P. Lovecraft and handles the ideas in novellas like The Shadow Over Innsmouth in a more exploitative fashion. Humanoids From The Deep was produced by New World Pictures and originally directed by Barbara Peeters. The film is pretty gruesome and scary, but when the producers saw that the film lacked more explicit footage of the creatures attacking women, another director added the footage that the producers wanted, leading Peeters and the actress Ann Turkel to disavow the film. It stars Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, and Lynn Schiller.

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