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Roger Corman produced this shameless Jaws rip-off at the height of the "nature gone wild" boom of American cinema and struck B-movie gold. Scripted by John Sayles and directed by Joe Dante, this tongue-in-cheek thriller stars Bradford Dillman (doing his best Rip Torn impression) as an antisocial mountain man and Heather Menzies as a rookie detective who race a school of mutant piranha downriver. Dante and Sayles provide the requisite blood and gore for this drive-in meat market: a kids' summer camp and a waterfront amusement park await the little beasties. Along the way, riverside retiree Keenan Wynn gets his ankles stripped clean, camp counselor Paul Bartel is chomped on the cheek by a hungry little bugger who takes to the air, and hordes of unlucky bathers are caught in the center of a feeding frenzy. What differentiates this little gem from the legion of similar knockoffs are the satirical swipes at military arrogance and crass commercialism, Dante's energetic enthusiasm, and the bursts of black humor: "Lost River Lake: Terror, horror, death. Film at 11." The culty cast also includes Invasion of the Body Snatchers's Kevin McCarthy as the hysterical scientist guarding the creatures, horror diva Barbara Steele as a devious government researcher, and longtime Corman regular Dick Miller as an unscrupulous entrepreneur ("Sir, the piranha are eating the guests").
The DVD features good-humored commentary by director Joe Dante and producer Jon Davison, who also narrate the 10 minutes of good-quality home-movie footage shot by Davison. There are also six minutes of outtakes. --Sean Axmaker
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After Maggie foolishly drains the military containment pool in an effort to find the missing hikers, the two of them quickly discover the facilities deadly secret has escaped and it becomes a race against time to save the unsuspecting residents down river; including a kid's summer camp and the waterfront amusement park of Lost River Lake. Can Maggie and Grogan reach the summer camp and amusement park in time to save everyone? Can they stop the Piranha from reaching the ocean? Is there anything that can kill the Piranha? You'll have to buy your own copy to find out.
In the 1975 underwater classic "Jaws" Roy Scheider shouted "you're going to need a bigger boat" and in 1978's "Piranha" we heard the classic line "Sir, the piranha are eating the guests". Trying to capitalize on the success of Jaws from three years earlier, Roger Corman produced a little B-movie gem called "Piranha" in 1978; it was scripted by John Sayles and directed by Joe Dante. While "Piranha" never quite reached the status of "Jaws" it did provide B-movie fans with enough blood and gore to satisfy them and it quickly became a classic in its own right.Read more ›
The movie is cheesy. It has some of the finest B actors of the era. The special effects is minimal. It does contain some mild corny humor. Everything we expect in a Corman classic.
PARENTAL GUIDE: No f-bombs or sex. Nudity (Janie Squire with a brief full frontal, Heather Menzies or her body double, uncredited swimmer)
The film stars Branford Dillman, who, along with his extensive television credits, appeared in scores of films like Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and The Swarm (1978), to name a couple. Also starring is Heather Menzies, who appeared in films like The Sound of Music (1965), SSSSSSS (1973), along with various television shows throughout the 70's. Rounding out the cast are Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Paul Bartel, Barbara Steele (Caged Heat and Shivers), Melody Thomas Scott, and character actors Dick Miller and Keenan Wynn.
The film opens at night with two victims, er...Read more ›
"Piranha" is Corman's answer to "Jaws", a bad genre film that takes joy in being a bad genre film. When a private investigator goes looking for two missing kids at an old army test, she unwittingly releases a school of mutated killer piranha into the town's river system. With the help of a local mountain man, the two try to warn everyone from the military to a local resort. As is always the case in these films, the military has another agenda and they don't want the truth revealed.
Over the years, "Piranha" has earned a reputation as a true cult classic. With a great script from John Sayles, an amazing musical score from Pino Donaggio, and tremendous performances from underrated actors like Dick Miller, Keenan Wynn, Paul Bartel, and horror legend Barbara Steele, "Piranha" is the ultimate "nature goes wrong" B-movie.
My only real complaint about this DVD is that it is presented in a full-frame format (though the opening credits are finally presented in widescreen as the other way cuts the names pretty badly). Well, that and the fact that they didn't include any of the added footage from the original network TV version. Those complaints aside, it is good to hear director Joe Dante (who went on to direct "Gremlins") and producer Jon Davison reminisicing on the filming of this movie. Not to mention, the added value of seeing lots of never-before-seen footage from the making of the film. If you loved this movie growing up or are just a fan of the classic "creature feature" titles, this is a must-have.
Most recent customer reviews
There! I said it and I'm sure there are others who agree with me. As great as Jaws is, it is a very overrated film while Joe Dante's Piranha is a very underrated film. Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2012 by A Fan
I love these kinds of movies, especially whenever they turn out to be low-budget 'B' movies from the 70s-80s genre. Read morePublished on June 14 2004 by Blade
I used to love this movie when I was little. One of the things that fascinated me most about it was that it was filmed in San Marcos, Texas, at a riverside resort called Aquarena... Read morePublished on March 22 2004 by Steve J
First I read the book. Then I saw the video. Now I have the DVD. Why? Because this is an above average B-movie. Read morePublished on Jan. 30 2004 by Joshua Koppel
the best part of this movie is the ominous buzzing sound made by the pirahnas when they attack! yummy.Published on July 23 2003