Piranha (1978)

After cutting trailers for the legendary Roger Corman for years, director Joe Dante received his feature film break in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, and would go on to make his first Horror movie, PIRANHA, two years later before hitting it big with THE HOWLING and GREMLINS. Always the joker, Dante keeps his tongue placed firmly in cheek all throughout this silly play on JAWS. In PIRANHA, the vacationers at the Lost River Resort are attacked by a mutant strain of carnivorous fish that are mistakenly unleashed from a secret research facility up river! The sly humor that makes its way into the film keeps the mood high in spite of the terrible violence that is unfolding all around. As fake as the rubber fish may look, the quick cuts used during their fevered feeding frenzies conceal their cheap designs behind a crimson shroud. From the opening scene, the river runs red as the piranha mow down everything in their path, but nothing can compare to the bloody feast that awaits them at the river's end (save for Alex Aja's ridiculous remake). Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies do their best to keep a straight face as they run around warning people of the fishy menace, while Corman favorites Dick Miller and Paul Bartel pop in with a pair of amusing cameos along with the late Kevin McCarthy, who hams it up as the kooky geneticist that is responsible for all of the madness. Of the many JAWS imitators that surfaced in the late 70s, PIRANHA is easily the most enjoyable, and offers a surprising amount of staying power now thirty years since its initial release!

Rating: 7/10.

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  1. Saw this a year or two ago for the first time since I was a kid, and it was waaay better than I remembered! Loved Bartel's character.

  2. I grew up with the Piranha and Jaws movies, my dad would rent one every single weekend from ages 5-6, so this one has always had a special place for me, but I feel it holds up surprisingly well!