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Piranha (1978)

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

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(story), (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Maggie McKeown (as Heather Menzies)
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Laura Dickinson (as Melody Thomas)
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Trooper
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Shannon Collins ...
Suzie Grogan
Shawn Nelson ...
...
Earl Lyon
Janie Squire ...
Barbara Randolph
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Storyline

When flesh-eating piranhas are accidentally 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:

Lost River Lake was a thriving resort - until they discovered... See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

3 August 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Piraña  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$600,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$6,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A waitress from the Holiday Inn where the director and crew were staying stood in for Heather Menzies during the topless shots because Menzies was concerned that her husband might not approve of the nude scene. See more »

Goofs

Looking at the Commanding Officers ribbons, they are up side down. However, they are turned over in his next close up. 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

Referenced in This Week in Horror: Trailers from Hell (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Jaws parody with enjoyable moments and plenty of gruesome carnage.
20 June 2006 | by (Todmorden, England) – See all my reviews

Not many movie-makers do parodies better than Joe Dante – the director who brought us The Howling (a werewolf movie parody), Gremlins (a monster movie parody), Innerspace (a Fantastic Voyage parody), The 'Burbs (a neighbours-from-hell parody) and Piranha (a Jaws parody). This 1978 comedy-horror is one of Dante's early movies, but despite that he shows an assured touch and gets generously tongue-in-cheek performances from his cast of horror veterans. While the film is never a truly great rival to the awesome Jaws, it is a fun and entertaining homage that has much going for it. Easily the strong point of this film is the gruesome make-up provided by whiz-kid Rob Bottin, but more will be said of that later.

A couple of teenagers go missing while trekking through the woods. Private eye Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies) goes searching for them, and discovers a burnt-out hermit Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman) living on the mountainside who offers to help her in her hunt. McKeown and Grogan stumble upon a secluded military research centre where crazed scientist Dr. Hoak (Kevin McCarthy) is busily conducting experiments to create a strain of piranha fish able to survive in rivers and oceans, and always eager to devour anything in their way. The plan is to release these super-fish in enemy rivers, thereby making the entire river system too dangerous to use. McKeown and Grogan mistakenly release the piranhas into the local river, and realise that anyone using the river for recreation – including the bustling summer camp miles downstream – are now in desperate danger. The army is brought in, but instead of helping to solve the terrifying situation they seem more concerned with covering up the whole business. In particular, General Waxman (Bruce Gordon) has cause to keep the existence of the piranha secret, as he has invested his savings in the summer camp and doesn't want to scare away his paying customers. In a race against time, Grogan and McKeown try to release poison into the river to prevent the piranhas from devouring everyone in sight and proceeding to the ocean…..

Piranha is fast-moving, gory fun. It's nice to see Dillman in a heroic leading role after so many years of playing the supporting bad guy in numerous films. Menzies is fine as his partner-in-adventure, and there are great supporting roles for horror legends like Barbara Steele (as a military scientist), Dick Miller (as a cowboy entertainer) and Keenan Wynn (as Grogan's doomed buddy who lives at the riverside). As I said earlier, Rob Bottin provides some bloody make up effects that make some of the half-eaten victims look pretty yucky. The gently mocking script is by John Sayles, and is full of humorous references to earlier books and films along the same theme. The finale in which the holiday-makers fall foul of the piranha fish is packed with blood and guts, and should definitely appeal to gore-hounds. Even though the film keeps its tongue in its cheek, there are still some dumb moments along the way that mar credibility even on this level. For instance, Grogan spends much of the closing scenes underwater being attacked by the piranha…. earlier in the film we were made to believe that the piranha devoured their victims in literally a few seconds, but they seem to make ludicrously hard work of attacking Grogan while he's in the water (in fact, he surfaces after several minutes in the firing line with just a few bites, which seems somewhat fortuitous!!) Piranha is enjoyable, though, and should be well received by genre addicts.


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