Written By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Joe Dante
Producer: Jon Davison
Screenwriter: John Sayles
Date Released: August 3, 1978
Bradford Dillman as Paul Grogan
Heather Menzies as Maggie McKeown
Kevin McCarthy as Dr. Robert Hoak
Keenan Wynn as Jack
Barbara Steele as Dr. Mengers
Dick Miller as Buck Gardner
Belinda Balaski as Betsy
Bruce Gordon as Colonel Waxman
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
When Maggie McKeon is sent to a countryside to investigate missing hikers, she recruits local, Paul Grogan to take her to an abandoned military base. But when they arrive, they soon find out that the base may still be active. Upon exploring the military base, she soon discovers that strange experiments were conducted on fish. Thinking that the hikers may be under the pool of water at the base, she drains the pool but in doing so, releases killer, mutated Piranhas. Together, Maggie and Paul must try to stop the spread of these killer Piranhas into the ocean.
When Piranhas are attaching people, the film will often show an area of bloody water, similar to that of Jaws. In one scene, a man has his feet in the water and as a result are eaten to the bone. The film would then proceed to show the man’s feet in skeleton form. Such special effects are rather comical but appropriate for a B-movie horror film in the late 1970s. Other scenes will depict scars and wounds from Piranha bites. However, overall, Piranhas does not incorporate a tremendous amount of gore and relies more heavily on suspense.
The Grave Review
Sources indicate Piranha was inspired by the Steven Spielberg film, Jaws, given how popular it became. However, what Piranha incorporates was the element of leaving the threat of killer Piranhas open at the end of the film. Maggie and Paul never seem to quite end the threat, although there is a scene in the film which may suggest otherwise (can you spot it?). Of course, this may be intentional to keep the potential of a sequel on the table. Nevertheless, the idea that there still may be killer Piranhas wasn’t a bad way to end the film. It is probably unfair to compare this film to Jaws, but a killer rogue Shark is much scarier than a man-made one.
The actors and actresses in this film represented your typical B-movie cast. There was nothing bad about the acting in general, but there was also nothing captivating about it either. Piranha (1978) was well-paced and entertaining. It is a good movie to watch on a rainy day when you are bored. At the same time, Piranha (1978) is not something to get too excited about.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Piranha (1978) three graves out of five graves.
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