Piranha (1978)


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The sophomore effort for director Joe Dante, a future protégé of Steven Spielberg, this low-budget, high-camp horror spoof of Jaws (1977) features several chiller stars of yesteryear. Insurance investigator Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies) is dispatched to find two missing teenage hikers near Lost River Lake. She hires surly backwoods drunkard Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman) to serve as her guide. Searching the area, they find an abandoned military facility. The only resident is Dr. Robert Hoak … More

Rating: R (for sequences of strong bloody horror violence and gore, graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use)
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: John Sayles
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 19, 1999
The Weinstein Company/Dimension Films - Official Site



as Paul Grogan

as Maggie McKeown

as Dr. Robert Hoak

as Buck Gardner

as Dr. Mengers

as Col. Waxman

as Trooper

as Dumont

as Whitney

as Barbara

as Pitchman

as In Canoe

as Father in Canoe

as Water Skier

as Man in Boat

as Screaming Woman

as Tom, sentry guarding...
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Piranha

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (3)

Even Jaws director Steven Spielberg counts himself among the film's fans.

Full Review… | October 10, 2012
Creative Loafing

Fans of the recent retreads should check this out to cover their grounds.

Full Review… | June 4, 2012
Cinema Crazed

Essentially, Piranha is the best example of how to do a B-movie knockoff.

Full Review… | January 9, 2011

Extremely gory Jaws rip-off is too much for kids.

Full Review… | August 24, 2010
Common Sense Media

[T]hat rarest of rarities: a rip-off that surpasses its inspiration.

Full Review… | August 23, 2010

It's played more for laughs and digs at America's war policy than for scares.

Full Review… | August 23, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Piranha


Despite showing early signs of Dante's peculiar sense of humor (the ululating sound made by the piranhas is a hilarious example), this spoof of Jaws (or as Roger Corman put it, his "homage" to that classic) did not resist well the effect of time, looking pretty trashy and silly today.

Carlos Magalhăes

Super Reviewer

This obvious rip-off of the original "Jaws" was one of the biggest cult films to come out of the exploitative genre, and it's even memorable enough to have been remade in 2010. Unlike the remake it's actually got a fairly interesting plot, as these mutant piranhas are let into a stream by a good intentioned investigator (Menzies) and a drunk fisherman (Dillman). They attack everyone from camp counselors to kids, to a beach of people, all to the chagrin of the two who are trying to warn everybody about the advancement of these beasts. The story is a little lame because we're just watching these two trying to tell everybody that there are piranhas and no one listens to them, and therefore the piranhas attack and hurt everyone. The army knows about it but they don't seem to understand basic science, so they kind of let it happen. There's a very open ending and it trails off near the end, so it's not the best story, but then again, you're not watching for that, are you?

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


Feeling like a replica of Jaws at times, Piranha takes all the fun out of suspense horrors, but having terrible actors at their disposal and a script that anyone could have written. The kill setups are atrocious and the piranha attacks are filmed very unevenly, but it can be fun to watch at times. Once the iconic massacre scene happens, the movie picks up a bit of steam, but overall, it is a very poorly put together film. I feel that it is meant to be a bad film, spoofing these types of movies, but that didn't help the fact that I laughed during ever death. This film had too much going for it, for what it turned out to be. "Piranha" is one film that I will never forget, but for all the wrong reasons. Joe Dante hit a speed bump in his career with this film. Everything about this movie screams bad, but I think that is what they intended, so I will cut it some slack. It's a fun watch one time around, but that is all!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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