Retro Review: Piranha (1978)

In my quest for 500 horror films in one year I have come across plenty of movies I had never seen before.  Not to mention all of the movies I thought I’d seen, but hadn’t.  Piranha is one of those movies.  It seems like another movie popcorn summer movie and a ripoff of Jaws.  But, I found it to be a little better, not better than Jaws, no way…better than a rip off or popcorn movie.  There was an actual story, not thin like the “remake” and its sequel.


When thousands of military hybrid piranhas are accidentally released into a river used by a children’s holiday camp, the race is on to get downstream before the flesh-eating fish do.

I always thought the Piranha movies were, as I said a rip off of Jaws, like the film Orca.  When a movie is successful, there are many others waiting to rip it off to make a bunch of money.  But, I don’t think Piranha is the same way.  The story is very different and doesn’t take place in an ocean.  It is a decent movie overall.  The military created a hybrid piranha and these two kids fell into the area where they were keeping the piranha.  When they go missing, someone is sent to see what happened.  They drained the area and let the piranha loose into a river.  Kevin McCarthy(Invasion of the Body Snatchers) is terrific in the movie.  Which this is one of the best things, the cast is pretty much unknown and it works.

But, there are some of the things about the movie that felt uneven and it hurts the movie.  Not to mention the abrupt ending, it also was anit-climactic.  The characters, while unknown, were not the greatest and when the movie switched between three and at times four story lines that all converge in the third act.

But, I did like the movie and I could see how a sequel was spawned…spawning.  Which was directed by James Cameron.  In 1995 there is a remake with William Kaat, a 12 year old Mila Kunis and “Punky Brewster” herself Soleil Moon Frye.  There was another Piranha film released in 2010 and a sequel that has so many breasts in the film, it takes away from its mediocre story.  The 2010 Piranha 3D wasn’t bad at all, just to throw that out there.

I do recommend watching all 4 Piranha films, I say 4 because I cannot track down the 1995 remake.  Maybe one day I can find it and see what we are dealing with. has a rating of 5.9

I give Piranha a 6.6

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One this is for sure, there are some great posters for Piranha.

About Ray Marek III 699 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)