When flesh-eating piranhas are accidently released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (story) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
3,761 ( 3,951)

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Piranha 3D (2010)
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming fish food for the area's new razor-toothed residents.

Director: Alexandre Aja
Stars: Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell, Richard Dreyfuss
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.5/10 X  

A scuba diving instructor, her biochemist boyfriend, and her police chief ex-husband try to link a series of bizarre deaths to a mutant strain of piranha fish whose lair is a sunken freighter ship off a Caribbean island resort.

Directors: James Cameron, Ovidio G. Assonitis
Stars: Tricia O'Neil, Steve Marachuk, Lance Henriksen
Piranha (1995)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.8/10 X  

The private investigator Maggie McNamara from Lyon Investigation is hired by the wealthy J.R. Randolph to find his niece that has disappeared with her boyfriend. Maggie seeks out the lonely... See full summary »

Director: Scott P. Levy
Stars: William Katt, Alexandra Paul, Monte Markham
The Howling (1981)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

Director: Joe Dante
Stars: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan
Piranha 3DD (2012)
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.8/10 X  

After the events at Lake Victoria, the pre-historic school of blood-thirsty piranhas make their way into a newly opened waterpark.

Director: John Gulager
Stars: Danielle Panabaker, Ving Rhames, David Hasselhoff
Alligator (1980)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A baby alligator is flushed down a Chicago toilet and survives by eating discarded laboratory rats injected with growth hormones. The small reptile grows gigantic, escapes the city sewers, and goes on a rampage.

Director: Lewis Teague
Stars: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael V. Gazzo
Piranha (1972)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2.7/10 X  

Wildlife photographer Terry and her brother Art go to Venezuela for a photo shoot. They hire Jim Pendrake to guide them through the jungle. However, the trio run afoul of evil local hunter Caribe.

Director: William Gibson
Stars: William Smith, Peter Brown, Ahna Capri
Critters (1986)
Action | Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A race of small, furry aliens make lunch out of the locals in a farming town.

Director: Stephen Herek
Stars: Dee Wallace, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush
The Blob (1988)
Action | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A strange lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.

Director: Chuck Russell
Stars: Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch Jr.
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Scientific experiments backfire and produce horrific mutations: halfman, halffish which terrorize a small fishing village by killing the men and raping the women.

Directors: Barbara Peeters, Jimmy T. Murakami
Stars: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The Gremlins are back, and this time, they've taken total control over the building of a media mogul.

Director: Joe Dante
Stars: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover
Comedy | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

In this satire on 70s B-movie industry, a young ditsy pretty blond arrives in Hollywood to try her luck as an actress. After some mishap, a shady agent finds her a job with a sleazy B-movie crew plagued by strange deadly accidents.

Directors: Allan Arkush, Joe Dante
Stars: Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, George Wagner
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Maggie McKeown (as Heather Menzies)
...
...
...
...
...
...
Laura Dickinson (as Melody Thomas)
Bruce Gordon ...
...
...
Shannon Collins ...
Shawn Nelson ...
...
Janie Squire ...
Edit

Storyline

When flesh-eating piranhas are accidently released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal. Written by Concorde - New Horizons (with permission).

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They're here...Hungry for flesh! Who can stop them? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

3 August 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Piraña  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$600,000 (estimated)

Gross:

SEK 1,585,673 (Sweden)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Although implied by the film, the novelization confirms that Paul and Maggie slept together while Hoak is their prisoner. See more »

Goofs

As Dr. Hoak is attacked by a piranha, he gets onto a raft and his sweater alternates between torn and intact. See more »

Quotes

Maggie McKeown: Are there any other shacks around here?
Paul Grogan: Cabins! This is a cabin!
Maggie McKeown: Well, are there any more of them? Any place they might be hold up in?
Paul Grogan: There's an old fella named Jack who has a place downriver, but he woundn't treat any hospitality towards them. Oh, and there was some kind of Army test site way up on top of the mountain. But that closed down five, six years ago.
Maggie McKeown: C'mon, let's go.
Paul Grogan: To where?
Maggie McKeown: You're taking me up there.
Paul Grogan: Oh NO I'm not!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title sinks into the pond water at the start, and turns it blood red. Over the end credits, we hear the sound of piranhas swimming in the ocean. The water turns red as well. See more »

Connections

References 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Corman classic rip-off.
24 November 2006 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Piranha is a film more self-aware than most of the post-Scream crap to come out of Hollywood. The film knows it follows a formula. In an early scene, we meet the protagonist Maggie playing a Jaws arcade game -- acknowledging the film it shamelessly rips off. It knows it packs a clichés punch with its characters as well as showing off that trademark Roger Corman cost-saving devices. It knows it carries an obligatory anti-war message as a product of the 1970s. And Piranha brings with it an appropriate sense of humor towards its material.

So watching the film, I found myself despising the formula it follows; however, I couldn't help but appreciate how the film never takes itself too seriously. Good thing too, because the other protagonist, Paul, represents one of my greatest character pet peeves -- the self-serving social reject SoB who gets talked into tagging along who eventually evolves into something sympathetic. I can barely stomach that character type in this goofy ride, I don't think I could endure another character like that in a straight movie. Thank you Joe Dante.

Most films will toss out a painfully contrived excuse to get the adventurous Maggie and the hermit-wanna-be Paul to run through the plot together even though no amount of logic or reason could possibly yield that result, but not Piranha. Oh no. It doesn't even bother with an excuse, it just defies logic and common sense to put the two together and doesn't ask questions. Thank you John Sayles.

Of course, I still hated Paul, but that's okay. With any luck he'll wind up Piranha bait.

Keenan Wynn plays a colorful old man who lives out in the same neck of the woods as the Paul character, and he confirms the viewer's suspicion that Piranha opts for less realistic characters in favor of silly caricatures. This prepares the viewer for the big balding camp activities administrator, Earl, who encourages little kids to overcome their fears by essentially calling them sissies for having said fears. Also the evil Colonel Waxman who is evil solely because he represents the US Government around the same era in history as the Vietnam War. And let's not forget the cocky highway patrol trooper who informs the main characters, "Don't try nothing 'cause I got my gun right here in my left hand." What I find most amusing about Piranha is the fact that the "good guys" (Maggie and Paul) are the two characters most deserving of a crucifixion over the events in the film. These characters waltz into an abandoned Government test facility and start pushing buttons without asking any questions, or even attempting to go through the right channels, or find out anything about this once top-secret and highly classified test facility. They metaphorically walk into a antique shop blindfolded while swinging a baseball bat, and it's the store owner's fault for leaving stuff out. But they said they're "reawwy, reawwy, sowwy, and it'll nevah happen again." Is it any wonder that no one believes their word about the river that bypasses the dam? I mean, most sane people hesitate to take directions from a guy who just ran full speed face first into a brick a wall.

Piranha's story, in essence, describes two characters who screw up, and spend the rest of the film trying to fix it while the narratives desperately tries to lay blame on its villain of the day. In a straight horror flick, this would no doubt irritate me; however, in this caricature jamboree of clichés … it feels right. Especially with Dick Miller playing the "corrupt" businessman and owner of the aquatic park, and Barbara Steele playing a scientist associated with the project that generated the killer piranha -- both characters in league with the evil Colonel Waxman, thus villains by default. And, honestly, you can't go wrong with Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, and Barbara Steele in a film like this.

What about the stars of this film? The piranha's themselves? There's a certain charm to the hyperactive fish going into epileptic convulsions while their teeth shred away at human flesh and, of course, the foggy silhouettes that stiffly pass by the camera like glorified cardboard cutouts. In other words: fun low budget creature effects whose flaws only enhance the viewing experience.

Unfortunately, the mayhem the Piranhas cause generally falls short to the point of, dare I say, boredom. The fish begin to bite, and the scene degenerates into a mass of extras kicking, screaming, splashing, intercut with convulsing piranhas feasting. The chaos in frame drags on with no arc, no climaxes, barely any visible progress. At best, every now and again, Joe Dante offers hints of a mass exodus from the water at such a casual pace that it's difficult to believe these people's lives are at stake.

Having said that, I must confess that I respect and appreciate one of the climaxes where Joe Dante not only places a child's summer camp in danger, but also follows through by having the piranha actually attack the kids. An apparent Hollywood taboo despite the fact we're talking fiction -- where's the suspense of children in danger when the viewer knows a mainstream studio won't dare go there? Sad that this parody has more balls than some of its serious horror film brethren.

That self-awareness and sense of humor separates Piranha from the pack, and saves it from the same bashing that other creature features would receive. However, it does not grant Piranha total immunity. While littered with flaws, Piranha is not afraid to acknowledge what it is, it's not afraid to go against Hollywood taboos, and it's not afraid to mock itself. And hey, you get a dose of Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Mark Goldblatt, Dick Miller, Keenan Wynn, and Barbara Steele all in the same package. If that's not worth the price of a rental, some popcorn, and a few laughs, I dunno what is.


12 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The 18 (UK) rating surprises me osiris_amanpour
Picture quality on new Piranha DVD? mborick
Shout Factory's DVD and Bluray - Any real difference...? butcherofbakersfield
The piranhas weren't the only thing at the base... andresfprieto
Filming locations for Piranha - a detailed look! RABerg66
Piranha 1978 MITTENZ73
Discuss Piranha (1978) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page