Piranha (1978)

Written & Directed by: Joe Dante

Written by: John Sayles

Story by:
Richard Robinson & John Sayles


Bradford Dillman .... Paul Grogan
Heather Menzies .... Maggie McKeown
Kevin McCarthy .... Dr. Robert Hoak
Keenan Wynn .... Jack
Dick Miller .... Buck Gardner
Shannon Colins .... Suzie Grogan
Barbara Steele .... Dr. Mengers
Belinda Balaski .... Betsy
Melody Thomas Scott .... Laura Dickinson
Paul Bartel .... Mr. Dumont

Release Dates:
Theatrical: August 3, 1978

*Images courtesy at: www.moviebox.se






A couple of teenage backpack travellers named David (Roger Richman) and Barbara (Janie Squire) decides to trespass an abandoned US Army test site on a mountain which has a huge swimming pool so they decide to go swimming in it as they think that it's just an ordinary pool but are eaten alive by flesh eating pirahna's which reside in the pool.
A young woman P.I. named Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies) is hired by a father of one of the kids that were eaten by these monstrous fish to go on a search for them as they are reported missing and meets up with one of the people who resides there named Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman) as they both find the test site and tries to drain the pool to see what's inside of it but one of the people named Dr. Robert Hoak (Kevin McCarthy) tries to stop them and warns them that the sole resident of the test site - who informs them that the inhabitants of the pool were the products of a gene-splicing experiment called 'Operation Razorteeth', designed to produce a mutant strain of piranha fish for deployment in the Vietnam War against the NVA and can live in cold water as well as breed at a high rate. But he is knocked out and drain the pool regardless and finds a skeletal corpse as they think it was a dog.
The three of them go on a mission on a raft in the lake where the water from the pool drains was unleashed and spot some people that were killed by these pirahna's and they're on their way to a nearby camp which Paul's daughter named Suzie (Shannon Colins) is staying at and tries to find his way there and warns them not to go in the water but they are arrested after Dr. Hoak is eaten alive by these fish while rescuing a boy when they try to contact the camp director Mr. Dumont (Paul Bartel), as well as a resort owner named Buck Gardner (Dick Miller) whom has his guests swimming and sailing nearby about the dangers of these pirahna's thinking that they are pranksters causing trouble.
They manage to escape but they may be too late as they seem to be invading the lake already .


There's some good takes on both Paul Grogan and Maggie McKeown walking down a stairway to the army base and pool.
Many good camera shots on a lab showing weird creatures with the two of them looking around and feeling creepy about all of it.
We spot a cheesy struggle between Paul and Dr. Robert Hoak when he tries to turn on the draining of the pool.
But there's a nice shot with both Paul and Maggie McKeown standing in the pool that was drained with a skeletal figure lying there.
There's many terrific camera shots on all three of them on a raft in a lake trying to go on a search.
We spot a good scene with Jack sitting on a pier with his feet in the water chucking a piece of meat in the lake and talking to his dog drunk. There's a nice shot on the meat being sucked in the lake and later a nice shot of some bloody splashings near his feet as he reacts well by yelling in pain.
A good shot on him lying on the ground trying to look dead but he doesn't look convinced as it looks like he's pretending to be dead by a nice brief sob by Paul.
We have a good shot on a father in a canoe putting his arm in the water while sitting in a canoe which leaves a good impression that it's not a good idea and although he doesn't react too well we do have a good suspenseful camera shot on his being pulled in with bloody water spraying all over while he's being sucked in.
There's a good shot on Suzie Grogan while sitting on a pier at camp while having a discussion with Laura Dickinson trying to cheer her up while being homesick even if the scene looked quite dated.
A nice shot on Robert trying to swim over towardsa boy in a canoe with the camera aiming aright at the child while struggling to save some when he's eaten alive by pirahna's as the scene did look fairly suspenseful.
There are lots of good shots on the pirahna's eating the rope tied to the raft with all Paul, Maggie and the boy trying to struggle to stay on.
A nice discussion between Laura and Betsy near the lake on the pier talking about possibly going for a swim along with a camp counselor disturbing them asking about if they know some kids trying to go for a swim after curfew while they try to get his attention somewhere else. It looked comedic but it was very stale.
There's a great shot on Paul running as fast as he can through a pathway to a dam while a shot on a dam guard is watching an old show on TV in which the scene was trying to give you a few chuckles along with a suspenseful moment but fails completely.
We have many great shots on the kids and camp counsellors swimming and splashing in the lake and react terrifically when they're attacked by the pirahna's as well as a nice shot on a pirahna in a lake aiming at the camera in a speeding moment.
There's a good shot on Mr. Dumont looking around the lake with a pirahna jumping at his face which nearly makes you jump.
Many terrific shots on both Paul and Maggie stealing a police car and quickly speeding on a road or any where they can reach the camp.
A nice shot on someone skiing in the water trying to tell the boat drivers to warn them about something with a good shot on a woman sitting at the boat watching him.
Lots of suspenseful shots on a boat running over another boat and the boat exploding.
There's more great shots on the pirahna's attacking the extra's in the water as guests of the mayors show with them splashing around and screaming.
There's many good shots on Paul swimming underwater trying to reach something with pirahna's ready to attack him.
Bottom line is that this is one of those films that was made after the success of Jaws which is a totally bland ripoff but became a cult classic to many horror movie fans. There's even a beginning moment after the opening cradits with the lead actress playing a Jaws arcade game. Pretty typical. However, the film can be fun to watch if you're in the mood for a corny horror flick and it tries way too hard to be funny as well which the humor is very stale and cheesy. There's many tongue in cheek moments with kids doing pranks at the camp as I'm convinced this is what inspired the people who made Meatballs but that one was a much better film by any means. There's the odd suspenseful moments with the pirahna's attacking which seems quite amusing but the story sinks like the film itself.

The acting is very wooden and uninspired but some try the best they can. Heather Menzies (Maggie McKeown) seems to have just the looks for her part when I was first watching this movie but again she didn't seem terrible either just nothing too special that's all. She does well trying to call the onscreen mayor on the other line by trying to be serious about pirahna's entering his way.
Bradford Dillman
(Paul Grogan) showed some good energy to his part with the odd aggression too but needed to pick it up a bit more. Again, this film is over 30 years old so the acting looked dated. He seemed to do not too bad otherwise.
Kevin McCarthy
(Dr. Robert Hoak) looked right playing an eccentric doctor at the hatchery but seemed extremely lacking with his performance in which he often does a good job in other shows which is surprising.
He didn't seem convincing in a scene after he wakes up on a mattress telling two of his fellow actors by what they've just done. He was quite wooden when he is slowly dying at the end of his performance.
Keenan Wynn
(Jack) does a fine job and brings humor to his part as a drunken one in the film trying to bring as much character as he can in his part of the film. I always enjoyed his work ever since he was in the Disney classic Herbie Rides Again.
Dick Miller
(Buck Gardner) brings on his humor well as the mayor but of course he was always a worthy character actor and brings his roles to life regardless. Does well not taking someone seriously when is told on the phone of piranha's coming in his area.
Child actress Shannon Colins seems to do well with her innocent childlike behavior at camp really making her part come to life by being homesick.
Barbara Steele
(Dr. Mengers) really knew her stuff as usual in her work playing a closed minded type in the film as well as knowing how to really bring out her words when she has a secret about something.
Melody Thomas Scott
(Laura Dickinson) seemed to know how to play a sympathetic camp counsellor in the film making her role very likeable.
Paul Bartel
(Mr. Dumont) however tried to be a funny by being a scrict camp owner but he seems to fail at all will not being a comedic character like he was supposed to be.

A teenage girl takes off her top to swim in a pool at the pool
Heather Menzies
briefly flashes her breasts to an actor playing a solider to get his attention.
Some women have their breasts briefly exposed while pirahna's are trying to bite them off in the water.

Many people are eaten alive by pirahna's with their skin being bitten as well as some chewed up corpses
A man's legs are torn by pirahna bites

The music by Pino Donaggio sounds good with the high and low violin music especially during a sequence where kids are attacked by pirahna's in a lake almost sounding a cheesy type Carrie when the prom is on fire kind of way. There's also some comedic flute marine playing with the tapping of the drums when the two leads in the film tries to find a way of tricking a soldier in order to escape. There's also adventureous trumpet and trombone music too for the suspense in the film.

Whitney: The piranhas...
Buck Gardner: What about the goddamn piranhas?
Whitney: They're eating the guests, sir.

Dumont: People eat fish, Grogan. Fish don't eat people.

Maggie McKeown: That guard is still out there.
Paul Grogan: Fine, I need you to distract him.
Maggie McKeown: What for?
Paul Grogan: So I can get away.
Maggie McKeown: So YOU can get away? What about me?
Paul Grogan: Well suit yourself. Just come onto him, tell him what an admirer you are of Army or something like that.
Maggie McKeown: What if he's gay?
Paul Grogan: Then I'll go and distract him!