Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Piranha (1978)

Directed by: Joe Dante

Release Date: 1978

The campy movie produced by Roger Corman as a homage to Jaws, is everything a horror fun would expect: cheesy effects, wooden acting, never taking itself seriously, and anything else you can think of.


From the opening sequence where one of the victims yells out to her companion, "Last one in is a rotten egg," the audience can anticipate more than rottenness in this pool.

The audience is imbued with gratuitous nudity (like remake) and many references to horror pictures taking place in the water. Pay attention to the little nuggets. My favorite was Maggie playing an arcade game titled, "Jaws." From then on, the picture takes off and tells the audience a story about testing gone wrong on piranhas. The rest is absurdity at its best.

A salient feature of the movie are the opening credits. Superimposed on calm waters lapping with a sunset, "Piranha" in red lettering leaks into the water, filling the screen with red while the credits disappear and reappear on the screen. I was enthralled from the beginning. Not to mention the unforgettable score. What a picture!

Produced by Roger Corman, the godfather of B horror pictures, and directed by Joe Dante who since this picture premiered in 1978, has had an eclectic bunch of pictures under his belt (Gremlins, Gremlins 2, Small Soldiers Innerspace, Explorers), Piranha used its special effects creatively to showcase the death scenes quietly off screen with rapid water movement, quick cutting, and sound effects.

The most notable actor is really Kevin McCarthy who is best known for that awesome science fiction movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers as the lead who is running from the infected folks. In this picture, he plays the doctor left in charge to monitor the piranhas (Christopher Lloyd's character in the remake). Additionally, there's also Dick Miller (he's that guy, you know him) known for his bit roles in other pictures like Terminator, Pulp Fiction, and Gremlins. In this picture, he plays, Buck Gardner, the person in charge of the summer resort where the guests are "being eaten," as is mentioned in the trailer. What a great line.

Overall, check out this flick. Watch it with some friends. Make fun of it. Laugh during the death scenes (there's really great memorable one too). It's definitely worth the watch. I can see the similarities between the two pictures and Alexandre Aja's version did the film great justice. As much I think the 1978 version is watchable and entertaining, I have more of an affinity for the remake if only for the sick effects by Greg Nicotero's makeup team. Oh the goretastic effects!

Enjoy!