Piranha (1978)

Piranha, an undisguised Jaws ripoff from the late ‘70s, is no match for the Spielberg’s blockbuster phenomenon (which makes a cameo appearance as a video game). This Roger Corman creature feature, helmed by Joe Dante (of Gremlins fame) is nonetheless a surprisingly good B-movie. It contains all the B-movie trappings: skinny dipping teenagers, unconvincing special effects, an ocean of blood and a decidedly anti-authority slant. Dante’s filmmaking is solid, though not up to Hollywood standards yet.

Piranha (1978)

Piranha is distinguished by a mature approach to the carnage unleashed by its piscine terrors. Occasional jokiness doesn’t distract from a film that treats death with gravity surprising for an apparently “trashy” genre film. Dozens of victims fall prey to the piranhas’ ravenous maws, but while the depictions of these deaths may not be convincing (scenes go on too long to maintain suspension of disbelief; after a while you’re just watching actors flail around in the water), Piranha ensures that the victims feel like real people. When an old man’s legs are mutilated and he perishes trying to crawl to safety, or when pre-pubescent campers are savaged in a river, the film refuses to soften the blow with a gag, unlike its recent remake.

Rating: 134/200

6 thoughts on “Piranha (1978)

  1. This one was always a lot of fun, but the 2010 remake contains all the violence and vulgarity we REALLY wanted to see when we were kids. Plus, it has a prologue with Richard Dreyfuss spoofing his character in “Jaws”! ML

    • Oh yeah, I quite enjoy the remake. It’s much sillier but also much funnier. I was quite surprised how comparatively serious this film was, especially for a Roger Corman produced cash-in!

    • She was in the 1995 remake – she was a little too young for this one (as she wasn’t born in 1978!). I didn’t realise she in the remake til your comment though – thanks for the tidbit 🙂

      • Thanks for that. I must have been watching the remake when I said that. But I did see 1978’s Piranha and it scared me (i was 7)

      • It was a cool factoid – I’ll have to check out the 1995 remake and keep an eye out for her! I was just thinking she would have been a little too young for a ’78 film so I looked it up 🙂

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