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Piranha – 1978
Lost River Lake was a thriving resort – until they discovered…
Joe Dante

Richard Robinson (story) and
John Sayles (story)
John Sayles (screenplay)

Roger Corman executive producer
Jon Davison producer
Chako van Leeuwen co-producer (as Chako Van Leeuwen)
Jeff Schechtman executive producer

Bradford Dillman – Paul Grogan
Heather Menzies – Maggie McKeown
Kevin McCarthy – Dr. Robert Hoak
Keenan Wynn – Jack
Dick Miller – Buck Gardner
Barbara Steele – Dr. Mengers
Belinda Balaski – Betsy
Melody Thomas Scott – Laura Dickinson (as Melody Thomas)
Bruce Gordon – Colonel Waxman
Barry Brown – Trooper
Paul Bartel – Mr. Dumont
Shannon Collins – Suzie Grogan
Shawn Nelson – Whitney
Richard Deacon – Earl Lyon
Janie Squire – Barbara Randolph
Roger Richman – David
Bill Smillie – Jailer
Guich Koock – TV Pitchman
Jack Pauleson – Boy in Canoe
Eric Henshaw – Father in Canoe
Robert Vinson – Soldier
Virginia Dunnam – Girl
Hill Farnsworth – Water-skier
Bruce Paul Barbour – Man in Boat (as Bruce Barbour)
Robyn Ray – Screaming Woman
Mike Sullivan – Dam Guard
Jack Cardwell – Brandy
Sally Bondi – Swimming Deb (uncredited)
Eric Braeden – Dr. Robert Hoak (swimming double) (uncredited)
Joe Dante – Scuba Diver #2 (uncredited)
Amy Holden Jones – Hertz Clerk (uncredited)
Andrew G. La Marca – Scuba Diver #1 (uncredited)
John Sayles – Army Sentry (uncredited)
Phil Tippett – Scuba Diver #3 (victim) (uncredited)

Review by Theo Robertson

Piranha (1978)

More Fun Than Jaws,
Bimbo and drunk team up to save innocent people from killer piranha! Sounds like a grade Z movie of the worst sort and maybe it is but PIRANHA is nothing less than grade A entertainment. Pride of place goes to John Sayle`s knowing script which telegraphs the coming carnage with a scene featuring Dumont (Played brilliantly by Paul Bartel) a sort of fascist summer camp commander: ” People eat fish. Fish do not eat people ” Hey I think that line might be leading somewhere. And the dialogue throughout is just as camp but that’s what makes it a joy.

DRUNK: ” Distract the guard ”
BIMBO: ” What if he’s gay? ”
DRUNK: ” Then I’ll distract him ”

And who can forget the all time classic line ” It’s the piranha sir. They’re eating the guests ”
Joe Dante doesn’t take the script seriously either and films it as a tongue in cheek homage to JAWS. Every time someone takes a dip we’re treated to a fish eye view of the potential victim where you expect the John Williams theme of Du Dum Du Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum to appear on the soundtrack. And never in the history of cinema have so many filmgoers laughed at so many people getting eaten alive. Please don’t write into the IMDB goof department to point out the revealing mistake of the woman screaming at the badly eaten rubber corpse. That’s deliberate on the part of Dante I’m sure.

Without doubt the most enjoyable JAWS spin off ever made.

Piranha (1978)

Review by Wayne Malin

Can’t say I liked it…,
The government hires a scientist (Kevin McCarthy) to develop man-eating piranhas to use in combat (????). Unfortunately they escape into a public stream…which runs into a summer camp, a resort and then the ocean. Can Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies stop the creatures?

This is a Roger Corman production with all his trademarks–stupid script, bad acting, pointless nudity, bad dialogue and some truly pathetic special effects (the piranhas themselves are obviously cardboard cutouts in a few shots). Purportedly a spoof on “Jaws” but (aside from a few lines) I didn’t find this funny. It does move quickly but the plot is just too ridiculous (and not funny) to be taken seriously. Also the piranha attacks are VERY vicious and bloody and they show them attacking (and killing) children. I draw the line when any horror movie needlessly throws in children being killed for “entertainment”. I also fail to see how that is funny. Also it has a very downbeat ending.

It is well directed by Joe Dante and some reasonably OK acting helps. Dillman is pretty good but Menzies just basically says her lines with a blank face. Corman regulars Paul Bartel and Dick Miller pops up but they’re not even remotely funny. However Barbara Steele appears as Dr. Mengers and she’s having a whale of a time with her role. She plays it with just perfectly–smiling at the audience while acting seriously.

I found this too violent to enjoy and too stupid to take seriously but this does have an audience. There is one exchange that made me laugh out loud: “Sir the piranhas…” “What about the piranhas?” “They’re eating the guests sir”.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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