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Piranha

4.4 out of 5 stars 798 ratings
IMDb5.9/10.0
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August 3, 2010
1
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October 26, 1999
20th Anniversary Special Edition
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Editorial Reviews

While searching for missing teenagers, novice skip tracer Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies) and local town boozer Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman) stumble upon a top-secret Army laboratory conducting genetic research on piranha fish for the purpose of developing biological warfare. When the deadly eating machines are accidently released from the compound, they are soon headed downstream and consuming everything, and anything, in their path.

Bonus Features:

* New Anamorphic Widescreen Version (1.85:1)

* Audio Commentary With Director Joe Dante and Producer Jon Davison

* Behind-the-Scenes Footage

* The Making of Piranha Featurette With New Interviews From Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski and Many More

* Bloopers and Outtakes

* Piranha Trailer With Commentary by Producer Jon Davison Courtesy of Trailers From Hell

* Stills Gallery With Photos and Posters From Around the World

* Behind-the-Scenes Stills Gallery Featuring Photos From Phil Tippetts Personal Collection

* Additional Scenes From the Network Television Version

* Radio and TV Spots

* New World Trailers

Product details

  • Is Discontinued By Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ No
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Product Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 0.7 x 7.5 x 5.4 inches; 3.35 Ounces
  • Item model number ‏ : ‎ SFY11682DVD
  • Director ‏ : ‎ Joe Dante
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 34 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ August 3, 2010
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies-Urich, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ German
  • Producers ‏ : ‎ Hisako Tsukuba, Jeff Schechtman, Jon Davison, Roger Corman
  • Language ‏ : ‎ Unqualified
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ SHOUT! FACTORY
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00317LM8S
  • Writers ‏ : ‎ John Sayles, Richard Robinson
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 798 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
798 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2019
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Jaws knock off gets a Steelbook release
By James C Girasa on July 1, 2019
This review is for the Steelbook Blu-Ray edition of Piranha released in June, 2019.

This Steelbook edition is for the original 'Piranha' made in 1978.

For those interested only in the picture and extra's, just look below.

BLU-RAY & EXTRA'S: The picture is made from the original camera negative and is a 4K scan. The picture didn't look as good as I would have hoped. I know very little about film transfers and I'm guessing that the this is as good as this movie is going to look. The movie is shown in it's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The extra's are plentiful. They are:
-New audio commentary with Roger Corman - I did not particularly like this. Almost the entire commentary is of Corman being interviewed about his career. He says very little about this movie. Don't expect to learn much about 'Piranha'. Corman's career has been documented extensively elsewhere. Dick Miller died shortly before this commentary was made.
-Audio Commentary with Director Joe Dante and Producer Jon Davison - This is a very good commentary. Dante is always good at commentaries and in this particular instance, it is his movie! He tells you virtually every detail he could remember as you go scene by scene through the movie. This is the way all commentaries should be. When Dante recorded this audio commentary, he was watching this movie for the first time in 15 years.
-Additional footage from TV version of 'Piranha' - This consists of about 12 minutes of scenes. This is not all new footage. A lot of the footage is of extended scenes. There is additional footage of the scenes with the kid and father in the canoe, scene in the tent, scene on the river with Dr. Hoak, scene with the colonel along with some other scenes. In addition, there is a new scene with a commercial being shot.
-The Making of Piranha - There are interviews with Roger Corman, Joe Dante and many of the actors and production people involved.
-Bloopers and Outtakes
-Behind the Scenes Footage
-Still Galleries
-Theatrical Trailers
-TV and Radio Spots
-Behind the Scenes Photo Archives

*****WARNING - LOTS OF SPOILERS BELOW*****

PLOT/SUMMARY: Maggie McKeown is looking for a couple of teenagers who went missing in Lost River Lake. Maggie comes across a depressed local named Paul. He agrees to help her look for the missing teens. They come upon a closed fish hatchery that has been turned into a secret military facility. Once inside they meet Dr. Hoak (Kevin McCarthy). Unfortunately they have an altercation and Hoak is knocked out. Maggie finds a switch and drains a pool that is outside of the main building. In doing so, she releases top secret piranha into the local river. The hatchery was being used to breed experimental piranha. These were to have been unleashed in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war. Dr. Hoak takes off in Maggie and Paul's Jeep but ends up crashing. Dr. Hoak tells the two about 'Project Razortooth'. Dr. Hoak doesn't tell them everything he knows and the trio uses a raft to travel down the river. Paul's child is at a summer camp nearby and he fears for her life. Once alerted, the military enters the picture. Together, they must figure out how to stop the Piranha from advancing.

PRODUCTION: This movies was released by New World Pictures and United Artists in 1978.
-The budget was around $660,000 and was a big success for New World Pictures.
-According to the producer Jon Davison, the shooting schedule was a total of 30 days, 22 days on land and 8 days in the pool. 20 of the shooting days were in Texas with the other 2 in Griffith Park in California.
-Universal Studio's wanted to stop this movie from being released but ultimately reconsidered.
-This was Joe Dante's first directorial job after his very low budget 'Hollywood Boulevard'.
-Dick Miller gets a pretty sizable role. He is of course famous for being 'That Guy'.
-Barbara Steele returns to the United States in a minor role.
-The underwater scenes were shot in the Olympic pool at USC.
-Dante got the military to approve of the script despite their concerns that he would make them look bad. He made them look bad!!!
-The movie attempted to use stop-motion early on. The creature shown in the laboratory was going to change sizes but ultimately, it was decided to give up on this.
-Eric Braeden, the star of 'Colossus: The Forbin Project' was originally cast as Dr. Hoak. He is actually swimming in one scene. He backed out after getting 'cold feet'. He was worried about the low production standards of the movie. Kevin McCarthy ended up with his role.

COMMENTS:

DO I LIKE THIS MOVIE?: Not really. I know that this movie is a cult classic but to be honest, I find it pretty boring. It's an original. I get it. It's just not the type of movie that I'm going to watch over again anytime soon. For it's day, it was a pretty good thriller. If it was release in today's day and age, it would be extremely forgettable. Of course, it wasn't released today, it was released in the 70's.

IS BARBARA STEELE 'ALL THAT'?:
-I just don't get the popularity of Barbara Steele. I understand that she is quite popular. However, I find it amazing that she had such a long career with her attitude. She seems to have had a very bad attitude and I never thought she was that good looking to begin with. Yes, I know, she has fans that think she is gorgeous. To that I say, "To each, his own". I also don't think she is a good actress. If you listen to the commentary, she wasn't even prepared for her role in this movie. She was quite fortunate to have found somebody to hire her in Italy. I can't believe she just walked off of the set of an Elvis movie! I think saying that she didn't age well is an understatement. You can already see her looks going down hill in this movie. OK, so I'm dumping on Barbara Steele. I'll stop since I'm probably offending a few people!

CLEAR ENDING?: The ending isn't all that clear... literally. Supposedly the piranha are killed via being 'polluted to death!' OK... if they say so... Soon after they would be flying... I'm not kidding... just watch the sequel.

OTHER COMMENTS:
-I know they didn't have the budget to re-shoot scenes but I have to point out that you could see the kids laughing in some of the scenes in which they are being attacked.
-It was nice seeing Kevin McCarthy in the movie, even if it was only for a short while. I doubt he had much to do at this point in his career but they still couldn't afford him for too long.
-Near the beginning of the movie you can see the video game 'Jaws' being played. This is a rare 70's arcade game and a 'shout out' to 'Jaws'.
-Supposedly a bunch of kids die in this movie. I didn't actually see any kid die.
-Our hero, Paul, is underwater way too long. Joe Dante admits to this and points it out in his commentary. However, there just wasn't anything he could do to make the underwater sequence shorter.

CONCLUSIONS: Everyone knows that this movie is a rip off of Jaws. It proved to be influential and helped to launch a whole genre of low budget movies of this type and for that reason it is a cult classic. I think that the director, Joe Dante, did as good of a job as you can do with such a limited budget.

If you want the Steelbook version then you are probably a fan of the movie. The picture isn't great but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for better.

IS THERE A SEQUEL?: Yes there is. There is a sequel called 'Piranha II - The Spawning' and there are two remakes. One was made in 3D. The sequel assumes that the Piranha have gotten into the ocean and they are hanging out near a beach resort in a shipwreck. It's up and coming director, James Cameron, called it "the greatest flying piranha movie ever made".

RATINGS:

Plot: 5/10 - Just so-so by today's standards but pretty good in it's day.
Picture: 7/10 - It's a scan from the original negative but somehow it just doesn't look all that great.
Extra's: 9/10 or 4 1/2 stars - Plenty of extra's, this is a strong point of the release.
Steelbook Cover: 5/10 or 2 1/2 stars - This is not especially good for a steel book cover.

Overall: 7/10 which I'm rounding up to 4 stars.
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