Piranha

1978

Piranha

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

72%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 25

42%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,068
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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 (Kevin McCarthy), former head of a top-secret project to breed piranha for use in the Vietnam War. The project was closed down years ago, but Hoak has continued raising a deadly strain of the flesh-eating fish. When Hoak is knocked unconscious, Maggie and Paul accidentally release the piranha into a local river, which leads to the lake where a children's summer camp and a newly opened tourist resort will provide plenty of fish food for the hungry predators. Maggie and Paul race to warn the locals, but their pleas fall on skeptical ears, such as those of resort owner Buck Gardner (Dick Miller) -- until the piranha reach the swimmers. Piranha (1978) was co-written by John Sayles, making his motion picture debut. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Piranha

All Critics (25) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (7)

Audience Reviews for Piranha

  • Jan 24, 2018
    Not a terrible film, but there was a remake in the 90s with the exact same story featuring better acting and better effects, so you can probably skip straight ahead to that one. Now I know that if I had been around when that remake came out, I'd probably be the first in line to complain "Why'd you even bother? It's just the first movie over again!", but seeing as I watched them both in retrospect, I can ignore the fact that I'm being a total hypocrite and move right ahead to recommending you just watch the remake.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 27, 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.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2013
    You can tell it's a rip-off of Jaws, but it's got some of it's own charms. The story is about some genetically modified piranhas that were supposed to be used during Vietnam war but after the war finished most of the specimens were destroyed, but few survived and bred and are heading towards a summer camp. It has some great fun and nice use of special effects. Although majority of the film was spent on talking, there are still some great actions and shocks. The acting was terrible, lots of clichés were used despite knowing that they could be avoided. Campy but quite well done thanks to the witty dialogues.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Jun 02, 2012
    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 P Super Reviewer

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