Piranha - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Piranha Reviews

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May 5, 2016
One of Dante's weaker films, but still good.
April 9, 2016
Loved it as a kid watching a tv movie - I had a crush on the good camp counselor that colors a scraped knee on one of her girls so she didn't have to go swimming.
So disappointed when she was taken down by the piranha - why do the good ones have to go down in a movie like this - I always asked.
Its bc they make the drama more interesting, and you care when they do go down,I found out later.
Its dated, but a decent tv movie-level story, and interesting situations, especially the summer camp.
I didn't really care for the 2010 remake - but I'd love to see this one again.
Here, the cast takes the piranha seriously, and the campiness is more of a percolating gallows humor. The 2010 version was rather drunken college kids that didn't really care, and Jerry O'Connor tries to be funny is only good for a one note chuckle, if even.
Just find this one, and get your horror movie thriller going.

4 ankle bites out of 5
November 18, 2015
Hilariously bad and terribly funny, tongue in cheek. The best way to make a Jaws parody...huh, a low budget campy spoof of a 70's B movie. Ridiculous. 6.5/10
½ November 18, 2015
"Piranha" is one hell of a rip-off. I'm sure calling it such wouldn't much offend its filmmakers - it was released soon after 1975's "Jaws" and possesses a similar concept - as it holds the touch of a film in sync with its junkiness. It's in on the joke of having a film's villains be man-eating, ahem, piranhas, and it takes leap after leap of faith just in order to ensure a nasty thrill. B-movies should strive to be as awesomely schlocky as this one.
Unless you count the titular foes as the leading characters then we could say that "Piranha" is headlined by Maggie McKeown (a likable Heather Menzies), an insurance investigator shipped to Lost River Lake to track down a pair of missing teenage hikers. Unsure of where to begin her search, Maggie calls for the help of Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman), a native of the area who knows the region almost by heart. Soon, the two discover a vacant military facility, home to a seemingly concluded government project that involved the breeding of human hungry piranhas for the Vietnam War. Only Dr. Robert Hoak (Kevin McCarthy), head of the experiment, remains - but after Maggie and Paul unknowingly release the piranhas into the area's prolific bodies of water, a literal bloodbath quickly consumes the region.
With enough cheeky humor and manic gusto to fuel the sum of its parts, "Piranha" takes the most carefree elements of "Jaws" and subverts them, squeezing in a pinch of self-referentiality that turns horror into bodily based comedy. I suppose we shouldn't be laughing when the bumbling characters of "Piranha," for instance, jump into infested rivers knowing full well of its dangers in order to save a life (logic?), but lack of intelligence found in horror movies is a staple impossible not to guffaw at. And Joe Dante, later to be the director behind vintage cultural staples "The Howling" and "Gremlins," helms with a cheery attitude both ticklish and self-aware.
The low-budget is not something to take note of - because of the astuteness behind the camera, "Piranha" is as effective as any money-pumped Hollywood blockbuster. We don't have to have high tech shots of the piranhas, to have quirky special effects, to be provided with studio invincibility. The suspense is unforced, the humor natural; it's a great example of sweeping escapism overcoming its boundaries.
"Jaws" diehards might be ticked off by "Piranha"'s copycat audacity, but the unknowing shades of the audience might find themselves surprised by how adept the film is. We don't come in with high expectations, and yet we leave feeling as thrilled as we did during the greatest of schlock parties of the 1950s and '60s. Leave your eye-rolls, your inhibitions, at the door - this is a winner.
August 18, 2015
Una emocionate, divertida y aterradora copia de "Jaws", cortesía del director Joe Dante (quien más adelante demostraría su talento con la colaboración con Steven Spielberg en "Gremlins"). El guionista de esta producción de Roger Corman es nada menos que John Sayles (quien más adelante se convertiría en el dios del cine independiente). Olvídese de sus prejuicios y disfrute de los mordiscos.
½ June 27, 2015
Early Joe Dante, of Gremlins fame. I've heard it been called a "spoof" of Jaws, or a part-comedy... I honestly don't think it Was meant to be a comedy. It feels like simply a Jaws ripoff, although probably consciously so.
Supposedly they are mutant piranhas created by the military, but they seem exactly like normal piranhas so I think the military wasted a bit of cash to be honest.
½ June 4, 2015
This is how garbage should be!
May 17, 2015
Pretty Decent. A fairly suspenseful horror flick involving a carnivore-type fish that prays against flesh in no different of a way than a large shark would. This film relates fairly well to the newer Piranha film, as it would be most considered a remake of sort to relate to the 21st century more. With this one being the original, it was certainly something different especially if you werenâ??t any more satisfied with Jaws.
April 19, 2015
Like many Roger Corman movies it is a more well known film than it has any right to be. It is nothing special, but not terrible by any means. In fact, it's actually a fairly well made killer animals movie. The problem is it isn't particularly memorable outside of some fun stop-motion monsters early on in the film and a scene with several children in peril. The reputation of this movie would have you believe it is some superior nature attacks movie. Truth is, it's not.
½ March 28, 2015
I loved the idea, but this film contained actors who seemed bored and the plot just took too long to get going.
January 4, 2015
Better than expected.

Having seen the 2010 version of Piranha (and the 2012 sequel, which was even worse) I really didn't expect much from this, the 1978 original. Turns out it's not bad, and better than I expected.

Starts very well - setting the scene, developing the plot and characters. There is a genuine feeling of intrigue and engagement. You keep thinking "How are they going to stop this?".

From a point, however, it does degenerate into a B-grade creature feature, with action, body count and gore being the main drivers. It also feels like a bad ripoff of Jaws.

However, for the most part it is reasonably enjoyable and worth the watch.
½ December 19, 2014
Roger Corman knows a good thing when he sees it: he just doesn't know how to make a good thing himself. In his career, he's produced a considerable library of knockoff schlock-fests. What makes a Corman knockoff such a spectacular affair is his proclivity to farm fresh talent at the lowest possible price. Piranha is no exception. The film is directed by Joe Dante and co-written by John Sayles who were, at that time, two eager unknown filmmakers. They were given one month and $660,000 (pricey for Corman) to finish the flick. It was released in 1978 as a parasitic calculation, feeding in the wake created by Jaws. The movie is a beautiful mess, throwing around fake blood and stale dialogue like confetti. The acting isn't all that bad: it's terrible. The one saving grace of Piranha is its cheekiness, which occasionally outshines the shamefully cheap production. It's a barrel of fishy fun, and one of my picks for movies that are so bad, they're good.
December 7, 2014
First time I have watched this original version.
The film has had numerous sequels and 3D incarnations over the years.
It was made in 1978 and it has aged in parts from print quality to fashions and appalling special effects compared to CGI.
The film is a Jaws rip off in several scenes.
From the Jaws arcade game.
Water skier.
An arrogant water park owner wearing a white suit who is the spitting image of the Amity mayor in Jaws.
A watchable 90 or so minutes but far from classic! The acting is very 1970s Australian soap opera territory.
August 28, 2014
Although not without my doubts, as Piranha was a somewhat popular Jaws rip-off back in its day and was remade into an exciting horror-comedy in 2010, I figured it would provide a fun sense of nostalgia at best.

Piranha doesn't even attempt to disguise the fact that it is a Jaws rip-off because its intro sequence is very derivative of the famous intro scene from jaws, with the invisible killers and the nudity all together. Piranha presents the idea really early on that it knows what made the Jaws films good and capitalises on them, albeit to a lesser extent. Piranha is basically a mix of eco-horror and Jaws elements which means that it is clearly derivative and yet able to stand on its own, and this means that it has a lot of potential.
The same way that Jaws made the ocean a very threatening place, Piranha turned the local rivers into a place of impending doom. And while the acting of the cast and the musical score do not match the standard that Steven Spielberg set as a medium of creating thrills, it maintains a lot of the same story integrity even on a much lower scale and with a lot less ambition.
The thing about Piranha is that the shock value is a lot different. In Jaws, there were only a few people killed by the shark while in Piranha, there are countless victims of which the majority were innocent children which means that despite the fact that there are really no characters to connect to, they do have a surface level of sympathy. Piranha makes up for its very basic script with well executed direction.
For a film with such a low budget, Joe Dante manages to prove that he knows what he's doing. He capitalises on the success of
Jaws and the fact that horror can come even when viewers can't actually see the killer. Although, the acutal Piranhas are seen enough and ther e is plenty of blood to convey the situation to viewers. The director cleverly gets away with only shooting a meage amount of necesarry footage and editing it well enough for it to succeed legitimately, even without resorting to being a good bad movie. I mean yeah, Piranha is a very low budget Jaws rip-off, but it is a serious tone that works beyond many of its limitations and doesn't end up looking nearly as cheap as you might think. But of course it does suffer due to its low budget as well, although mainly in the same way that most low-budget horror films do, specifically this time in the way that none of the characters are that compelling.But then again, Joe Dante seems pretty aware of this and so instead of focusing on a small group of characters he works on capturing the bigger picture. He does so through cleverly executed death scenes which are edited quickly and full of blood as well as high in quantity. While the film has some slow moments to build tension, the climax is packed to the brim with kills which makes it a worthy film. And visually, the cinematography is atmospheric and the editing is greatly timed. The scenery of the film is also very nice and helps to make the tale a lot more legitimate.
The pacing of the film also moves along very smoothly as that way it is sure not to milk its premise for too much more than it can handle, although it is able to appropriately build tension over the course of its
I appreaciate the fact that the film had a light touch of black humour to it as well, although as a Joe Dante film I gelt that it could have used a bit more to enhance the atmosphere and makes the experience a bit more of a fun one. But as he was going for a genuine horror atmosphere most of the time I don't really blame him.
Although it surprisingly didn't bother me too much, the only other major flaw in Piranha aside from the limitations set on it as a low budget horror film was the fact that the end of the film did not really have much of a conclusion. After the climax of the film with all the screaming children and deaths that occurs, there is nothing which shows the audience fighting back against the piranha except the implication that industrial waste is being used in a hopeful attempt to kill them. Piranha has the characters in the film spending the entire time running from killer fish but not really fighting back against them, and so the premise is even thinner than you might expect. But still, Piranha succeeds mainly because it benefits from Joe Dante's ambition, and considering that it is one of his earliest works, there is a lot of nostalgia that the viewer can feel from looking back at this for being a piece of his directorial filmography as well as a product of the Jaws hype.
When it comes to the acting, there is not that many characters worth feeling much of a connection for, but considering that Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies portray the protagonists who are fairly likable, they are the standouts. Heather Menzies is particularly the most notable because her character is such an odd hero, a young woman dragged into some strange situations which results in her having to act impulsively, even going so far as to flash her breasts to a Military Soldier to distract him while the character Paul Grogan incapacitates him. The scene is very random and adds a slight touch of black comedy to the film, so she is certainly an asset to the cheesy style of storytelling depicted in Piranha.

So despite the fact that Piranha is a thinly sketched Jaws rip off with no real characters, it is a surprisingly effective horror movie which has a high quantity of kills, a decent quantity of blood and gore, a simple concept which is executed well and stylish direction from Joe Dante, all on a low budget.
½ August 22, 2014
Falls below so bad that it's good and far below genuinely entertaining.
August 17, 2014
I know this was one of Joe Dante's earlier works, but man, this is a lousy movie.

Special effects have come a long way since the 70's but that's no excuse for horrible acting and a bad script. This from the same guy that gave us The Howling, Gremlins and Innerspace.

Guess the franchise was cursed because the sequel was directed by no other than James Cameron. And it was putrid.
½ August 16, 2014
A fun B movie treat. Piranha may not be far form perfect but it's fun to watch.
½ August 5, 2014
The biggest problem with 'Piranha' is that it's neither scary nor funny. Most of the jokes fail miserably and the scares are spoiled by bad acting and fish effects which look like cardboard cut-outs being flashed in front of the camera. Still, like most of these monster horror films 'Piranha' is a very entertaining film and I won't be sorry I saw it any time soon.
Super Reviewer
½ July 29, 2014
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.
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