- This page is about the original film. For the remake, see Piranha 3D.
Piranha is a 1978 American B movie about a swarm of killer/murderous piranhas. It was directed and co-edited by Joe Dante and starred Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, and Dick Miller. Produced by Roger Corman, Piranha is a parody of the 1975 film Jaws, which had been a major success for distributor Universal Studios and director Steven Spielberg, and inspired a series of similarly themed B movies such as Grizzly, Tintorera, Tentacles, Orca, Monster Shark and Great White .
Piranha was followed by a sequel, Piranha 2: The Spawning, in 1981 and two remakes, one in 1995, and another one in 2010, which spawned its own sequel in 2012.
While Private Detective Maggie "Margaret" McKeown investigates the disappearance of two teenagers with the help of Paul Grogan, an unemployed from the area, they stumble upon an abandoned military research facility Paul once heard about. They break in and find the belongings of the teenagers there and everything indicates, that they were swimming in the great pool placed there. Convinced, that they were there and somehow didn't get out, they let the water of the pool go into the river to investigate what is in there without a corresponding judicial order to make things faster and more effective. A scientist, Dr. Robert Hoak, who lives there and sees what they are up to, tries to prevent this from happening, but is overpowered by them.
After that they look into the pool and find a skeleton. Later, during questioning, the scientist tells them, they have released through their action hundreds of experimental, flesh-eating piranhas into the river, that he was breeding with the contentment of the government for possible military purposes in the future. They deduce, the teenagers wanted to bath in the corresponding pool and were eaten by the piranhas and realize, they will continue to eat people along the river now that they have released them into the river, unless they are stopped.
They then begin to eat people as it was correspondingly expected. They are recognized as very dangerous, because they were intelligent and poison resistant. Dr. Hoak is also killed by them while saving a boy. Maggie and Paul must limit the damage they caused through their actions by doing everything they can to stop them from reaching the ocean once they realize they can also survive in it like salmon, from where they would then swim around the world and infiltrate the corresponding river systems. They also have to fight the military on the way, who are obsessed in maintaining the piranhas a secret with the intent of using them in a possible war in the future to the extent of knowingly endangering the people in the river on the way.
Finally the piranhas reach a summer camp and an entertainment center at the river eating as many as possible on the way. Paul, with the help of Maggie, manages to stop them from reaching the ocean by releasing pure poison from a nearby factory he worked in just before they were reaching the ocean sustaining heavy injuries from the piranhas on the way, or did he not?
- Bradford Dillman as Paul Grogan
- Heather Menzies as Maggie McKeown
- Kevin McCarthy as Dr. Robert Hoak
- Keenan Wynn as Jack
- Dick Miller as Buck Gardner
- Barbara Steele as Dr. Mengers
- Belinda Balaski as Betsy
- Melody Thomas Scott as Laura Dickinson
- Bruce Gordon as Colonel Waxman
- Barry Brown as a Trooper
- Paul Bartel as Mr. Dumont
- Shannon Collins as Suzie Grogan
- Shawn Nelson as Whitney
- Richar Deakon as Earl Lyon
- Janie Squire as Barbara Radolph
- Roger Richman as David
- Billie Smilie as Jailer
- Guich Kook as TV Pitchman
- Jack Pauleson as Boy in Canoe
Based on reviews from 25 critics collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 72% gave Piranha a positive review. Steven Spielberg called it "the best of the Jaws ripoffs".
The film was released theatrically in the United States by New World Pictures in August 1978. Given the proximity to Jaws 2, Universal Pictures had considered an injunction, but Spielberg convinced them otherwise.
In 2004, New Concorde Home Entertainment released the film on special edition DVD. This version is currently out of print.
In 2010, Shout! Factory re-released Piranha on DVD and Blu-ray.
Piranha was first remade in 1995, and this version was also produced by Roger Corman and originally debuted on Showtime. It used footage from the original for certain sequences.
Another remake of the 1978 film is directed by Alexandre Aja, who again works with filmmaking partner Grégory Levasseur; the two have worked on other genre films as well, including the 2006 remake, The Hills Have Eyes. Distributor Dimension Films' Bob Weinstein told Variety, "We will maintain the fun and thrilling aspects of the original film, but look forward to upping the ante with a modern-day twist." Piranha 3D was theatrically released in the United States.
Dimension had been developing the remake of the 1978 Joe Dante film Piranha for over a year. It intended to have Chuck Russell, who previously reworked the 1988 version of The Blob, direct the film before taking on Alexandre Aja. Aja will rewrite a previous script from Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger. Aja explains, "My goal is not to remake Piranha, but to create a completely new adventure paying homage to all the creature films [...] I am very proud to follow the path of Joe Dante and James Cameron in the Piranha franchise and look forward to working with Greg Levasseur to write, produce, and direct such a fun and gory thrill ride. "The film's cast includes Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfus, Adam Scott, and Jerry O'Connell.
- Piranha (1978) at the Internet Movie Database
- Piranha (1978) at AllMovie
- Piranha (1978) at Rotten Tomatoes
- Piranha (1978 film) at Wikipedia
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