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Piranha (1978)

August. 03,1978
| Horror Comedy

When flesh-eating piranhas are accidently released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal.


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Why so much hype?

Kaelan Mccaffrey

Like the great film, it's made with a great deal of visible affection both in front of and behind the camera.


This movie feels like it was made purely to piss off people who want good shows

Francene Odetta

It's simply great fun, a winsome film and an occasionally over-the-top luxury fantasy that never flags.


part of a long chain of films about monsters from the same period, it seems far to be special. same story, secrets and ordinary people in middle of dark secrets, same cold danger and a lot of memories about "Jaws". but the virtue of this film is the reasonable and, in few scenes, seductive way , to say the story. the use of suggestion who creates the tension, the inspired music, the simple story and the dramatic moments. a B film who seems be special for the wise way to explore a theme so used. and this fact does it almost a classic film.


The first of the numerous Joe Dante/John Sayles collaborations is a wicked tongue-in-cheek horror comedy, which uses JAWS as its inspiration but is much more fun than that straight-faced classic. In fact, I enjoy PIRANHA so much that I'd rank it as my absolute favourite Joe Dante movie, even better than THE HOWLING. An affectionately witty script, a fast-paced and action-packed story, a great cast of B-movie stars, and some cheap but imaginative special effects work combine to make this one of the most intelligent B-movies out there. Being a Dante film, this is of special interest to the classic horror buff, containing as it does clips of vintage monster flicks (THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD turns up here), references and in-jokes and familiar cast faces. Kevin McCarthy in particular has a great role as the misguided but human scientist who helped create the mutant strain of piranha in the first place, and he gets to go memorably over the top as per usual.Dante scores points for grabbing the wonderful Barbara Steele for a bit part as a shady female doctor investigating the piranha outbreak; Steele is a welcome presence as always and I think I'm right in saying this is her last horror appearance to date, unfortunately. Eighteen years after her horror debut in BLACK Sunday and she's still looking great, I'm glad to say. Dante regular Dick Miller has a small appearance as the slimy resort manager Buck Gardner but does exceptionally well with the part, whilst director Paul Bartel puts in a very Tim Curry-ish turn as buffoonish summer camp counsellor Dumont. Then there's old-timer Keenan Wynn as an early unfortunate victim who gets his legs chewed off and Heather Menzies as the feisty female lead. Towering over all of these folk is the one and only Bradford Dillman, putting in a humorously serious performance as the alcohol Grogan who ends up becoming the unlikely hero of the movie. Go Brad! PIRANHA the film is, unsurprisingly, kept afloat through loads of piranha attacks. Dozens of cast members end up getting chewed by the little critters and there's plenty of blood and cheap gore effects to appeal to the horror crowd. The special effects have dated a little but are still lots of fun, especially the brief moments of stop motion which pop up on occasion (such as to animate the weird fish-men in the doc's lab at the beginning). Dante gets to stage not one but two major "panic" attacks at the finale, in which rivers full of holidaying folk suddenly turn into screaming bloodbaths, which prove to be a perfect way to end a hugely entertaining movie. Hearty congratulations to Dante and his crew for creating an underrated comedy/horror classic.


I'm a huge fan of Joe Dantes work, even going so far as to buy every movie has directed. There's something about his style, especially the mixture of humor and lighthearted horror elements that always seemed to resonate well with me. Piranhas is a movie I had on my watch-list for quite some time but I was never able to find a copy of it with a good quality. By total accident I found the special edition Blu-Ray Edition of Piranhas. I was exhilarated and bought it immediately.So, how well does Dantes second feature film hold up after all these years? Surprisingly well! This has all the good stuff in it that you'd expect from a Roger Corman production. Blood, boobs, humor, fake looking special effects, its all there, but its all done with a lot of passion! I watched some bonus material of how the piranhas were made and discovered that Phil Tippet (now an Oscar winner for his work on movies like Star Wars) actually made the pesky little fish rats. I gotta say, after watching the bonus stuff, I had even more respect for the movie, for the sheer fact alone of how much work went into it. No wonder they all involved to Hollywood legends, these people are creative forces! Now, with all that said, its still amateur film-making. So don't expect next level Kubrick. The acting is at parts really good, especially from Bradford Dillman, and at parts really cringe worthy, just like it should be. The story is rather simple and I wont bother going into details, its just entertaining schlock with some great moments. I was surprised how serious it actually took itself. There were quiet some funny scenes but for the most part, its actually pretty dark. All in all, this movie really impressed me. I was entertained for the entirety of the film and there never seemed to be a dull moment. The underwater scenes still look great and the gore effect don't disappoint. Give it a try!


A shoal of ravenous, genetically engineered piranha, the result of a top-secret US army experiment, are accidentally released into an American river system, threatening the lives of everyone downstream, including a group of children at summer camp and the guests of a riverside resort.Not just another lame Jaws rip-off, but rather a fabulously entertaining parody of the whole killer fish genre that emerged in the wake of Spielberg's classic, Joe Dante's Piranha brilliantly combines the director's trademark black humour with surprisingly disturbing scenes of genuine horror (FX legend Rob Bottin supplying the delightfully gruesome gore), features a superb cast of cult-movie legends (including Dante regulars Dick Miller and Kevin McCarthy), and, as befitting of any self-respecting schlock horror about killer-fish menacing helpless bathers, delivers some welcome female nudity, the film's obligatory skinny dip scene occurring within the first few minutes, with several other gratuitous boob shots throughout (sadly, the toothy critters fail to nibble away at the bikini strap of camp counsellor cutie Laura Dickinson, played by Melody Thomas).All in all, a great little film to sink your teeth into.