Boats can be great fun—but seafaring has always come with a dark side. Here are 10 films that may make you think twice about ever getting on a boat again—or at least make a good case for always wearing a life jacket:
(1) Titanic (1997). This biggest and baddest of all the “sinkers” is also the top money-maker of all time, having grossed more than $1.8 billion worldwide. Come aboard the world’s largest, most opulent luxury liner for a maiden voyage across the North Atlantic that includes a true “Night to Remember.” And don’t worry about bringing ice. We’ve got plenty.
(2) Jaws (1975). Steven Spielberg’s “fish story” all but invented the concept of the summer blockbuster. Featuring great characters, great suspense and a mechanical shark that was literally to die for, “Jaws” became the template for countless monster movies for years to follow. Most quoted line: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Best Sequel Tagline: “Just When You Thought it was Safe to Go Back in the Water.”
(3) The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Forget the lame 2006 remake; this 1972 original was the film that helped producer Irwin Allen gain the nickname, “The Master of Disaster.” With a cast of glorious B-movie actors and haggard has-beens that includes an Oscar-nominated star turn by Shelly Winters, this story of a capsized luxury liner gives a whole new meaning to the toast, “Bottoms Up!”
(4) The Perfect Storm (2000). Fishing is supposed to calm the nerves, not rattle them. But George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly just had to get greedy and…well…these things never end well, do they? If nothing else, watch the film for that monster wave that’s the picture’s signature shot. Just one question: What the hell is Karen Allen’s character doing in this movie anyway?
(5) Das Boot (1981). Director Wolfgang Petersen’s seminal work, it’s his memorial to the German submariners of World War II. The picture reeks of authenticity. It’s hot, stinky, sweaty, claustrophobic and terrifying. Not unlike a Carnival Cruise with an interior stateroom. Assuming the ship’s crew only spoke German.
(6) Lifeboat (1944). Eight survivors of a doomed Allied cargo ship find themselves alone and adrift in the North Atlantic. With a Nazi U-Boat officer. It’s legendary director Alfred Hitchcock’s examination of how ordinary people react when completely cut off from the constraints of civilization. And drinking water.
(7) White Squall (1996). Sailing is supposed to instill discipline, respect and camaraderie. At least that’s the idea behind this Ridley Scott recreation of a true 1960’s story about troubled teenagers on the high seas and the freak storm that puts their training to the ultimate test. Maybe white-water canoeing would have been a better idea. Or maybe not. (See #10 below.)
(8) Dead Calm (1989). The film that introduced Aussie actress Nichole Kidman to American audiences, it addresses the age-old question: “What if you put a bland middle-aged man, his ridiculously hot, young wife and a homicidal maniac together on a small boat in the middle of the South Pacific?” Just in case you were wondering.
(9) Open Water (2003). A honeymooning couple goes scuba diving, only to be stranded in shark-infested waters when their tour boat accidentally leaves without them. (Don’t you hate when that happens?) An effective combination of “Jaws,” “Home Alone” and “Lifeboat”—but without the boat.
(10) Deliverance (1972). Okay, on its surface, white-water rapids can’t compete with sinking or capsizing ocean liners, monster waves or great white sharks. But just watch what happens to poor Ned Beatty after his pals Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and Ronny Cox mess with some inbred good ol’ boys along Georgia’s Cahulawassee River and then tell us canoeing isn’t the most terrifying water-born activity in the whole wide world.
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