Video Article

Peril Harbor

Movies featuring terror on the beach -- ''Blood Beach'' and ''The Longest Day'' are two of the films with scary shore experiences

To some, the frothy mix of sand and silicone that is Baywatch represents the ultimate beach nightmare. To others, that honor forever belongs to Jaws. But scary shore experiences aren't limited to jagged shells and jellyfish. Natural disasters, genetic mutations, and world wars sometimes come into play, to wit:

Blood Beach, 1981
Menace: A mollusklike monster burrows beneath the sand to grab it victims.
Hero: As a detective who spends a lot of time sifting sand through his fingers, John Saxon wonders how it ever came to this.
Offshore Conditions: The use of a strong sunblock — preferably on the eyelids, which should remain clamped shut — is highly recommended.

The Longest Day, 1962
Menace: Those damn Nazis.
Hero: John Wayne, of course. But this epic about the D-Day storming of Normandy Beach also boasts three directors and a cast that includes Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, and Sean Connery.
Offshore Conditions: Choppy, but with more star power than any A & E special on the subject.

On the Beach, 1959
Menace: The end of the world as we know it, thanks to nuclear war.
Hero: None, only ordinary human beings like you and me, played by Fred Astaire, Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Anthony Perkins.
Offshore Conditions: Bathers will vicariously experience despair and depression, followed by radiation poisoning and agonizing death.

Piranha, 1978
Menace: A mutated strain of the already deadly freshwater fish — what a twist! — attacks river revelers.
Hero: Bradford Dillman, who makes David Hasselhoff look like Johnny Weissmuller.
Offshore Conditions: Come on in, the biting's fine; this is one of the wittier spawns of Jaws.

Tentacles, 1977
Menace: A giant octopus grows cranky after chowing down on Shelley Winters.
Hero: Septuagenarian action star John Huston.
Offshore Conditions: Prolonged exposure to the camera equals red faces for cast and audience.

Tidal Wave, 1975
Menace: Quite a few tsunamis, actually; the script was constructed around the special effects of an earlier Japanese disaster movie.
Hero: Lorne Greene, looking as if he misses Hoss very much.
Offshore Conditions: Wet and doubly goofy.

Originally posted Jun 23, 1995 Published in issue #280 Jun 23, 1995 Order article reprints
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