9. Jaws


directed by Steven Spielberg

The shark in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is described as “an eating machine. All this machine does is swim, and eat, and make little sharks.”  There is something chilling about that simplicity.  While other monsters of horror may have some kind of gimmick or even a disturbing personality, the shark is merely an animal, operating solely on instinct.  That instinct is to consume anything in its path.  It could be a grown man, a dog, or a child.  It will do anything to fulfill its evolutionary purpose.  And it doesn’t matter how much expertise the characters have; the shark will eventually get to them.  The expert goes into his anti-shark cage, and our shark smashes right through it.  The seasoned shark hunter feels safe aboard his boat, only to have the shark leap onto the stern and swallow him whole.  Jaws may not be the first creature feature, but it is probably the best, specifically because it emphasizes the single-mindedness of its monster.  No matter who we are or what we’ve done with our lives, to the shark, we’re all just food to keep it going until its next meal.  Kind of humbling, when you think about it.

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