Sunday, June 28, 2009
Piranha (1978, Joe Dante)
Fresh off the heels of my Great White/Last Jaws/Last Shark/Windsurfing Shark/whatever review is another killer fish movie. This one is less of a Jaws ripoff then a film inspired by the whole Jaws craze of the 70's. I came across this one when I was a teenager and it's actually been at least 10 years since the last time I watched it.
Piranha begins with a promiscuous couple gettin' nekkid and going swimming in a pool at an old abandoned research laboratory, you know cause that sounds safe. They are then eaten alive by a school of killer piranha being bred in the pool. An investigator (Heather Menzies) and a local man (Bradford Dillman) seek out the missing couple, but find much more than they were expecting. As it turns out, the research lab was creating a mutant strain of indestructible piranha which have accidentally been drained out into a local river which flows through a summer camp and a resort. Will they be able to warn those in danger before the piranha have the biggest feast of their lives?
Piranha is a tongue in cheek monster movie directed by Joe Dante of Gremlins and The Howling fame. Executive producer and B movie king Roger Corman called it his take on Jaws. The film definitely accomplishes what it set out to, being a comedic horror film. I did like the film but I felt it took a little too much time getting to what everyone is waiting for - the piranha massacre. The comedy is not for everyone and though I could appreciate it, I would have preferred a straight up horror film. Piranha's cast is excellent overall, especially Corman regulars Paul Bartel, Dick Miller and the (still stunning) Barbara Steele. The Piranha effects are also well done and pretty ferocious, courtesy of a young crew including Rob Bottin, who would later wow us horrorhounds with his incredible Howling werewolf transformation and out of this world alien creatures in John Carpenter's The Thing. In closing, if you're looking for a bloody killer fish movie that doesn't take itself seriously, look no further.