IMDb > Piranha (1978)
Piranha
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Piranha (1978) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
5.9/10   12,298 votes »
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Down 33% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Richard Robinson (story) and
John Sayles (story) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Piranha on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 August 1978 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
A hideous death lurked unseen in the river... See more »
Plot:
When flesh-eating piranhas are accidently released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal. See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
NewsDesk:
(339 articles)
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User Reviews:
Corman classic rip-off. See more (111 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Bradford Dillman ... Paul Grogan

Heather Menzies-Urich ... Maggie McKeown (as Heather Menzies)

Kevin McCarthy ... Dr. Robert Hoak

Keenan Wynn ... Jack

Dick Miller ... Buck Gardner

Barbara Steele ... Dr. Mengers

Belinda Balaski ... Betsy

Melody Thomas Scott ... Laura Dickinson (as Melody Thomas)
Bruce Gordon ... Colonel Waxman

Barry Brown ... Trooper

Paul Bartel ... Mr. Dumont
Shannon Collins ... Suzie Grogan
Shawn Nelson ... Whitney

Richard Deacon ... Earl Lyon
Janie Squire ... Barbara Randolph
Roger Richman ... David
Bill Smillie ... Jailer
Guich Koock ... TV Pitchman
Jack Pauleson ... Boy in Canoe
Eric Henshaw ... Father in Canoe
Robert Vinson ... Soldier
Virginia Dunnam ... Girl

Diamond Farnsworth ... Water-skier (as Hill Farnsworth)

Bruce Paul Barbour ... Man in Boat (as Bruce Barbour)
Robyn Ray ... Screaming Woman
Mike Sullivan ... Dam Guard
Jack Cardwell ... Brandy
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sally Bondi ... Swimming Deb (uncredited)

Eric Braeden ... Dr. Robert Hoak (swimming double) (uncredited)

Joe Dante ... Scuba Diver #2 (uncredited)
Amy Holden Jones ... Hertz Clerk (uncredited)
Andrew G. La Marca ... Scuba Diver #1 (uncredited)

John Sayles ... Army Sentry (uncredited)

Phil Tippett ... Scuba Diver #3 (victim) (uncredited)

Directed by
Joe Dante 
 
Writing credits
Richard Robinson (story) and
John Sayles (story)

John Sayles (screenplay)

Produced by
Roger Corman .... executive producer
Jon Davison .... producer
Chako van Leeuwen .... co-producer (as Chako Van Leeuwen)
Jeff Schechtman .... executive producer
 
Original Music by
Pino Donaggio 
 
Cinematography by
Jamie Anderson (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Joe Dante 
Mark Goldblatt 
 
Casting by
Susan Arnold 
 
Art Direction by
Bill Mellin 
Kerry Mellin 
 
Set Decoration by
Jeff Ayers 
 
Makeup Department
Rob Bottin .... special makeup
Vincent Prentice .... special makeup
 
Production Management
Thomas M. Hammel .... production manager: second unit
Tom Jacobson .... production manager
Harry Wowchuk .... unit production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles H. Eglee .... assistant director (as Charles Eglee)
Greg Gears .... assistant director
Dick Lowry .... second unit director
Costa Mantis .... background director
 
Art Department
Tim Doughten .... assistant art director
Kathleen Hughes .... property master
Kevin Hughes .... property master
 
Sound Department
Richard L. Anderson .... sound effects editor (as Richard Anderson)
Teresa Eckton .... sound effects editor (as Terry Eckton)
Joel Goldsmith .... location sound mixer
Anthony Santa Croce .... boom operator (as Tony Santa Croce)
David Lewis Yewdall .... sound effects editor (as Dave Yewdall)
Velcie Yewdall .... foley artist
Kendrick Sweet .... dialogue editor (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Douglas Barnett .... mechanical effects (as Doug Barnett)
Jon Berg .... special effects
Dave Morton .... mechanical effects
Robert Short .... special properties
Chris Walas .... special properties
 
Visual Effects by
Adam Beckett .... animator
Bill Hedge .... photographic effects
Peter Kuran .... photographic effects
Pat O'Neill .... special opticals
Jules Roman .... effects assistant (as Jools Tippett)
Jerome Seven .... effects assistant
Rick Taylor .... photographic effects
Phil Tippett .... creature designer and animator
Chris Casady .... photographic effects (uncredited)
Phil Tippett .... model construction (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Roger Creed .... stunts
Conrad E. Palmisano .... stunt coordinator (as Conrad Palmisano)
Nick Palmisano .... stunts
Bobby Sargent .... stunts
Bruce Paul Barbour .... utility stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Daniel Adams .... best boy (as Dan Adams)
Ted Boehler .... still photographer
Chris Brightman .... grip
Clyde E. Bryan .... assistant camera: second unit (as Clyde Bryan)
Scott Buttfield .... grip: second unit
Dana Christiaansen .... assistant camera
Bill Decker .... grip
Ben Haller .... key grip
M. Todd Henry .... director of photography: second unit
Michael Katz .... gaffer (as M.W. Katz)
Andrew G. La Marca .... assistant camera (as Andy La Marca)
Moshe Levin .... grip: second unit (as Moshe Levine)
O.C. Perkins .... still photographer
Eric Stoner .... underwater grip
Lynn Troupe .... underwater grip
Christopher Tufty .... assistant camera: second unit
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jack Buehler .... wardrobe assistant
Linda Pearl .... wardrobe supervisor
 
Editorial Department
Brenda Balanda .... assistant editor
Stacy Russo .... assistant editor
 
Music Department
Natale Massara .... conductor
 
Transportation Department
Michael K. Davis .... driver: grip (as Michael Goldson)
 
Other crew
Jim Boni .... production assistant
Robert Brown .... production assistant
William Decker .... dog wrangler
Jeffrey M. Hoffman .... production assistant (as Jeff Hoffman)
Nava Jacoby .... location auditor
David Kayler .... coordinator: Los Angeles
Michael Martin .... production assistant
Sharron Reynolds .... production secretary
Jeanne Rosenberg .... script supervisor
John Smead .... scuba instructor
Ashley Stieglitz .... production secretary
Ed Tarbutton .... production assistant
Harry Wowchuk .... location manager
Susan Arnold .... adr voice (uncredited)
Taira Rosales .... script supervisor (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
94 min | USA:106 min (TV version)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:X (original rating) | Argentina:16 (re-rating) | Australia:M | Canada:13+ (Quebec) | Finland:K-15 (2010) (uncut) | Finland:K-16 (1984) (cut) | Finland:(Banned) (1978) (uncut) | France:-12 | Iceland:L | Italy:VM14 | Netherlands:16 | New Zealand:R13 | Norway:16 | Sweden:15 | UK:X (original rating) | UK:15 (video re-rating) (2002) | UK:18 (video rating) (1987) | USA:R | West Germany:16
Filming Locations:

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:
Revealing mistakes: The speed boat is racing in the lake at full speed. The shot cuts to the skiers POV looking at the boat and the pull rope is slack and there isn't any tension on the line at all.See more »
Quotes:
Maggie McKeown:Mr. Grogan, I'm looking for two teenagers that disappeared a few weeks ago. Some friends of theirs said they went camping around here.
Paul Grogan:Well, I haven't seen them. You talk to the sheriff's people?
Maggie McKeown:I did. They told me that it's a pretty big mountain area.
Paul Grogan:It is.
Maggie McKeown:So... I was wondering if there are any places around here they might be or if they may have gone for a swim.
Paul Grogan:Well if they drowned, they'd be swept down to the dam. So, you're starting off at the wrong end.
Maggie McKeown:Boy, you're the wrong end all right!
See more »
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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful.
Corman classic rip-off., 24 November 2006
Author: jaywolfenstien from USA

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.

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