Sunday, August 3, 2014

Movie Review: "Piranha" (1978)

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Director: Joe Dante
Year: 1978
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

While a couple are hiking up in the mountains, they come across what looks like an abandoned government facility. For some adventure, they decide to break in and come across what looks like a harmless pool. They jump in for a quick dip, and unfortunately for them, the pool is filled with mutant piranhas and they are quickly devoured.  Maggie McKowen (Heather Menzies) is sent up the mountain in search of the missing hikers. When a local man, Paul Grogan (Bradford Dilman), leads her to the supposed abandoned government building, they decide to drain the pool to look for the hikers and unknowingly release the mutant piranha into the river. When Dr. Robert Hoak (Kevim McCarthy), who works at the not so abandoned research facility tells them what they done, they have to devise a plan to stop the piranhas from being released through the dam down river into the lake below at a near by children's summer camp. Worse yet, if the piranhas ever hit the open sea, there will be no way to ever contain them. 

You pretty much get what you'd expect from a movie titled "Piranha," and that's a bunch of people being eaten alive one little nibble at a time. Despite this being a low budget knockoff, it is quite entertaining with some good practical blood and gore effects. It also has some pretty good humor as well. Roger Corman is known for producing modern classics like "Dinocroc vs. Supergator" and "Sharktopus vs Pteracuda." Well, 1978 wasn't much different for Corman as he produced this homage, okay, knockoff, of "Jaws."  In fact, Corman almost got sued because this movie was too similar to the shark-wielding classic, but Steven Spielberg saw a screener of "Piranha" and liked it so much that he called off the lawsuit. The classic Corman films are the ones we prefer because they actually seem to try a little bit harder than the more modern "films" (if you can call them that at all). Little rubber fish on sticks look better and more realistic than terribly CGI'ed monsters. There's a charm to these older campy movies and it actually uses some pretty good actors, who do a decent job with what they are given, as opposed to the washed-up TV stars of late.

I personally think it's just too similar and too cheesy compared to something like "Jaws," which I'd much rather watch. I was less enthralled with this as opposed to BigJ, but it wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen. It has enough to keep me mildly entertained for an hour and a half in the spirit of summer!

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "That Thing You Do!"

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