|Page 1 of 11:||          |
|Index||104 reviews in total|
18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
This movie bites....in a good way., 15 November 2004
Author: Poseidon-3 from Cincinnati, OH
In the wake of "Jaws" came countless man vs. nature flicks with everything from bees to grizzly bears to frogs coming out to get man back for his crimes against the ecology (and don't forget "Night of the Lepus" in which huge bunny rabbits munched on hapless victims!) This film is considered one of the best imitators, primarily because of its tongue-in-cheek approach and it's deliberately campy writing and casting. Menzies is a hotshot missing persons expert who goes in search of two young hikers who have disappeared. She enlists the aid of hermit-like Dillman who lives near an abandoned government testing facility where the hikers were last suspected to have been. When they come upon a murky tank and believe the bodies could be at the bottom, Menzies releases the contents, unwittingly unleashing a school of vicious, genetically-altered piranha onto an unsuspecting river full of camp kids and park revelers. From there, it's a race against the clock to get to Dillman's young daughter who is about to enter a camp relay race in the water downstream. The film is deliberately peppered with actors who've made their mark in either horror or suspense films and it makes no pretenses about its lack of originality (though it does manage to come up with some despite itself!) Dillman (sporting an atrocious come-and-go Southern accent) and Menzies have a surprisingly decent rapport with each other with a few amusing scenes tossed in amongst all the panic. McCarthy pops up as a terrified scientist who knows his plans have gone awry. Wynn has a cameo as a gruff, but likable neighbor of Dillman's. Steele plays an ominous scientist in cahoots with Army colonel Gordon to keep the whole situation under wraps. Bartel is the persnickety camp counselor and Miller is the smarmy amusement park owner, both of whom disbelieve that there's any danger. Despite it's minuscule budget and rather homemade effects, the film does generate a bit of eye-opening gore and more than a little discomfort as these tiny fish nibble away at anything in the water. If "Jaws" caused people to avoid the ocean, this film could make people think twice about cloudy rivers and lakes! The murkiness of the water only adds to the horror of it all as the bikini-clad tourists and innertube-wielding kids can't begin to see what's coming. It's just a sting, then a nibble, then blood everywhere! Some of the effects are tacky and amusing, but there's a certain level of true fear as well. If one likes this genre to begin with, it will probably be a pleasure to watch. Others may be less enthralled.
19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Not just a cult film, but a cult film with all the right moves!, 10 July 2005
Author: BansheeCreature from The World Of Movies
On a dark, foggy night, two back-packers ignore the "no trespassing" sign, to engage themselves in a rest after a long while of mountain-climbing. They discover a pond, and instantly feel obliged to cool off. Before they can manage to enjoy this nice break, the most horrid feeling comes over them, and both become victims of a savage death, resulting in blood, only blood. Such an opening is familiar, yes, but also attention-getting, and enjoyable. This is "Piranha", the 1978 camp-classic horror film from acclaimed director Joe Dante and the production of Roger Corman. Given, the production values are some what less than "Jaws" and "Close Encounters.." but the heart and joy of film-making is also there, and thusly, the film is much more enjoyable than most Hollywood film of that era. The film is scripted by a then, young John Sayles, whom also makes a cameo! The two leads, Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies are perfect, and chemistry is dead-on making for a very fun time indeed! The writing is, perhaps, the best part of the film, seeing as Corman obviously wanted a real cultish feel, and as such, the film has so many noticeable , fun, and convenient in-jokes such as a swimmer reading acclaimed novel 'Moby Dick', and lazy workers watching old cartoons involving fish. The thrills are pretty good too, seeing as the situation involves genetically enhanced knowledge within the fish. Therefor, it is much harder for Dillman and Menzies as they attempt to over power the deadly fish while chasing them down stream a beautiful Texas river. Dillman and Menzies lead a cast of familiar faces seen in earlier Corman films such as Paul Bartel, Dick Miller, and Barbara Steele. The piranha themselves don't look too bad, and thusly, the effects are pretty good for a low budget film such as this. Other goodies are one-liners, and other dialogs that are so witty, they will either make you howl, or are just plain great to hear over and over again. Yes, this film has all the right moves, as well as many other to boot! It is comic when needed, and when the element of serious conflict is present, so is the presence of serious characters. This film was remade in '95, with the most wretched cast and concept ever! And the thought of another remake causes my blood to boil! You cannot re-create an original classic! That is what makes it original! In any case, this film is a great classic, and an always enjoyable film, every time viewed!
12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
The best Jaws-inspired flick swimming around out there!, 20 May 2008
Author: AngryChair from Brentwood, USA
Debut film of B horror director Joe Dante is this fun, exciting Jaws
spoof that's the best of its kind!
A school of deadly, mutant piranha is released from a government laboratory and it's up to an alcoholic man and his detective love-interest to warn folks down stream!
A fast-paced, campy, and humorous ride all the way, Piranha is a genuinely entertaining B film that recalls not only Jaws but many of the classic monster flicks of the 50's. The screenplay by John Sayles has lots of good suspense and a witty kind of humor. Dante's direction is nicely done, keeping the energetic mood of the film high. The special FX aren't half bad, especially considering the limited budget. In fact the movie packs some truly gory images. Pino Donaggio's music score is beautifully well done.
Stars Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies are quite good, making for some amusing and unlikely heroes. The supporting cast is good as well and has a number of veteran actors - Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, and Barbara Steele.
Over all, Piranha is a good old-fashioned horror delight for genre fans. See it!
**** out of ****
13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining "Jaws" rip-off, 29 September 2003
Author: rosscinema (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Oceanside, Ca.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Even in the late 70's studios were trying to cash in on the "Jaws" phenomenon and to this date they are still doing it. This is a Roger Corman produced film and he never saw a genre that he didn't exploit. Story is about an insurance investigator named Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies) who is trying to locate two lost campers and she runs into an alcoholic hermit in the woods named Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman) and she persuades him to give her a ride to a supposedly closed military facility. They look around and Maggie finds the campers gear certifying that they were there. They start to drain the pool to see if they drowned and they're attacked by a man who says not to let the water drain. They knock him unconscious and take him back to Paul's cabin. They tie him up and with the use of a raft they head downstream to the authorities. While on the raft they find out that his name is Dr. Robert Hoak (Kevin McCarthy) and he has been working for the government undercover and has developed a mutant species of piranha and that they let them out of the pool and into the river! The military comes in and they try to keep Maggie and Paul quiet but they escape and try to stop the piranha from heading downriver and into the ocean. The piranha chew up several people and even little kids swimming at camp. A local businessman named Buck Gardner (Dick Miller) is opening a resort on the river and even though he knows about the piranha he doesn't delay the grand opening. This was the directorial debut of Joe Dante and even though this was made on a shoestring budget his talent is very evident. Yes, the film is silly but the special effects are not that bad and the script was written by John Sayles. The only flaw (For me that is) is that Dillman and Menzies spend way to much time on that raft. The film does slow down a notch but luckily it's not for that long. There is one truly scary scene and it's where the piranha attack the little kids at camp. The kids really get chomped on and the scene where a pretty counselor is killed is very effective and well made. The opening scene in the film is a direct "Jaws" rip-off where the two campers go swimming at night and are eaten. Menzies is then seen playing a "Jaws" video game. Like all Corman films this has many recognizable faces in the cast like Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, Paul Bartel, Belinda Balaski, Richard Deacon and Sayles himself plays the Army guard that is fooled when Dillman and Menzies escape. Definitely a film that you don't take seriously but this is pretty well made and a must for fans of Corman and horror films.
14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
"Something bit me!", 13 October 2003
Author: Backlash007 from Kentucky
The 1978 Roger Corman produced picture Piranha was about
Killer fish escape a government research lab and kill hapless
vacationers, fishermen, and scientists. The film could have been real
hokey if not for writer John Sayles and director Joe Dante. The two of
them would become very successful in Hollywood with the release of The
Howling. The cast is full of familiar faces such as Kevin McCarthy,
Paul Bartel, Dante regulars Robert Picardo and Dick Miller, and Barbra
Steele. The effects are cheesy but that's part of the fun. I believe
that they made the best movie about menacing fish that they could. It
has just the right mix of comedy and terror and it's entertaining. The
Jaws video game was a nice touch too.
"They're eating the guests, sir."
10 out of 12 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.
10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Jaws parody with enjoyable moments and plenty of gruesome carnage., 20 June 2006
Author: Jonathon Dabell (email@example.com) from Todmorden, England
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.
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
This Movie Rocks!!!!, 8 July 2008
Author: farout6 from United States
This movie rocks! One of the very best B movies of the 70's. OK I did see this movie on TV when I was a small child and yes I was scared for very good reasons. It wasn't safe to swim in the ocean and now rivers weren't safe. What next pools? This horror classic is fun to watch with friends just for laughs. OK you can see the strings on the piranhas, and yes the fins don't move? It is a little unbelievable. Or is it??? Unfortunately this movie is a hard to find which I find very disappointing. I would love to carry this title on DVD and purchase this as a great gag gifts for a few of my friends whom also love classic B movies! I myself highly recommend this movie especially if you enjoy B movies such as Day of the Animals, SSSSSS, and Alligator. I promise you a good time Just beware of fresh water!
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
I always enjoy a river horror., 2 February 2004
I like horror movies that happen along or in rivers. Not that there are many "Shock Waves" and "Empire of the Ants" are the only two that come to mind right now. I do not know why, something about the scenery maybe? This movie is of course about piranha released in a river by two people who should not have been messing around a facility. Of course, if they did what they were supposed to do then there would be no movie. This movie was obviously trying to capitalize on the success of "Jaws", but for me it worked. The piranha are slowly making their way down the river and along the way they run into some kids at camp and this resort place. No one believes that they are coming, but that is the way it is in these movies. A sequel would come later and it would be directed by a then unknown James Cameron and it would be awful and a bit boring. Another piranha movie would be made by Roger Corman in the 90's, but it is essentially the same movie as this only not as good.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I always enjoy this Jaws rip-off, 10 May 2006
Author: Phantasm01 from Somewhere
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Where would we be without the venerable Roger Corman? Lovers of B-movie
madness would likely have a lot more time on their hands to read books,
interact with family, or take part in generally otherwise fulfilling
life experiences had old Rog chosen a different career path.
Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, Corman sat out in
Hollywood for three or four decades making low budget exploitation
films. He also tried to cash in on every movie fad in modern cinema.
And I do mean EVERY fad. You see, Roger had a dream to take an idea and
make a profitable picture out of it that would entertain the masses.
The problem was that someone else invariably had the idea first. Thus
Lucas's "Star Wars" allowed Corman to unleash "Battle Beyond the Stars"
on an unsuspecting public. Car chase movies saw Roger replying with
"Grand Theft Auto" and "Eat My Dust." I could go on and on. There
wasn't anything Corman couldn't do with someone else's idea. Perhaps
the best example is "Piranha," a 1978 ripoff of Spielberg's "Jaws."
This film made our man a lot of money, which allowed him to make even
more spectacular ripoffs for years to come.
The flick starts with a couple of kids breaking into some sort of rundown fish hatchery for an evening swim. Something in the water kills them. End of movie. Seriously, something rather nasty does do away with the two idiots. We then see an insurance investigator by the name of Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies on loan from Julie Andrews) heading out to discover what happened to these two dolts. She rather quickly hooks up with an embittered alcoholic with a penchant for flannel named Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman channeling Grizzly Adams) who lives in a cabin down by the river. Somehow or other Maggie convinces Paul to head over to the fish hatchery with her. Sure enough they discover that something sinister has been going on there under the aegis of Dr. Robert Hoak (Kevin McCarthy). How do we know this? Because there's lots of nasty looking scientific stuff lying around all over the place. Anyway, Hoak eventually lets our two heroes in on a little secret: the government paid him a bunch of money to create a breed of piranha as part of some weapons program. Personally, I'm for anything that keeps communists out of our swimming pools, lakes, and rivers.
While all this nonsense goes on we know the piranha have escaped from the hatchery (thanks Maggie and Paul!) and are preparing a full-scale assault on the human race. A few locals fall prey first, but the real threat is the summer camp and an aquatic park downriver. Just to ratchet up the emotional element of the film a bit, we also learn that Paul's daughter is currently attending the camp. Oh dear! It's a race against time as Paul and Maggie set out with the twitchy Dr. Hoak in tow to stop the madness. As for the folks at the camp and the park, they haven't a clue as to what's about to happen. The only concern at the camp is the fascistic machinations of Mr. Dumont (Paul Bartel), a guy who takes great joy in ordering kids into the water and snooping on the foxy female counselors. At the water park, the owner plans on making a bundle on opening day and couldn't care less if a battleship full of exposed nuclear waste sailed into harbor. You can pretty much guess what happens in the last part of the film. Screaming, blood in the water, and a lot of out of shape Americans in unflattering bathing suits thrashing around on the beach in agonies. Fun! I don't know whether to laugh or cry with this one, folks. The swarms of piranha zipping through the water look so like the pieces of plastic they are that it's tough not to snicker. It's even worse when we see them up close chattering away on an exposed leg or belly. We're definitely looking at cheesefest central on a buck and a half budget here. At the same time, I did find a lot to like about the film. Seeing veteran horror actress Barbara Steele popping up from time to time as a government scientist named Dr. Mengers was a nice surprise, although she's largely wasted in the role. Kevin McCarthy plays frazzled well, and the script requires him to morph into a sniveling wimp for most of his screen time. Heck, we even see Richard Deacon (Mel from "The Dick Van Dyke Show") in a small role as Maggie's boss. Can't beat that. The talent behind the camera is moderately impressive too considering the budget. Joe Dante directed this flick, and John Sayles wrote the script. Both men went on to greater success, Dante with "Gremlins" and Sayles with "Eight Men Out," "The Howling," and several other mainstream movies.
|Page 1 of 11:||          |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||Newsgroup reviews||External reviews|
|Parents Guide||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|