June 24, 2017

Aquatic Horror: Piranha (1978)

This Joe Dante directed freshwater classic is a fantastic jab at Jaws but also sets up one of our favorite that's-way-too-long-after-the-last-instalment-to-make-another-instalment sequels!

The plot unfolds something like this: An insurance adjuster has been sent to find the bodies of two missing teenagers in a remote summer resort town. While searching an abandon research facility, she accidentally releases genetically engineered fresh-water piranha into the town's river. Who would be genetically piranha you ask? The military of course! And they're hell bent on getting their fish back, innocent locals be damned...

Low key jabs at the military: Though the military cooperated with the production of Piranha, they were doing so under the assumption that the military portrayed in the film would end up the heroes. That might be because Dante gave them a fake script that portrayed that exact scenario, but the actual version of the film basically makes the military the bad guys. And it's not just because they created the piranha in the first place, but also their reckless attempts to get the fish back into their position and their lying to the public about the eradication of the piranha.

Great appearances by: Barbara Steele as the military scientist, Dick Miller as the local resort owner, and Paul Bartel shows up to be berated by Miller's character while he directs a commercial for his resort.

Jaws rip-off: Dante didn't try to hide from the audience that they were parodying Jaws, they even have on of the main characters playing a Jaws stand-up video game under the directer credit in the opening scene!

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