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Piranha (20th Anniversary Special Edition)

4.1 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Roger Corman produced this shameless Jaws rip-off at the height of the "nature gone wild" boom of American cinema and struck B-movie gold. Scripted by John Sayles and directed by Joe Dante, this tongue-in-cheek thriller stars Bradford Dillman (doing his best Rip Torn impression) as an antisocial mountain man and Heather Menzies as a rookie detective who race a school of mutant piranha downriver. Dante and Sayles provide the requisite blood and gore for this drive-in meat market: a kids' summer camp and a waterfront amusement park await the little beasties. Along the way, riverside retiree Keenan Wynn gets his ankles stripped clean, camp counselor Paul Bartel is chomped on the cheek by a hungry little bugger who takes to the air, and hordes of unlucky bathers are caught in the center of a feeding frenzy. What differentiates this little gem from the legion of similar knockoffs are the satirical swipes at military arrogance and crass commercialism, Dante's energetic enthusiasm, and the bursts of black humor: "Lost River Lake: Terror, horror, death. Film at 11." The culty cast also includes Invasion of the Body Snatchers's Kevin McCarthy as the hysterical scientist guarding the creatures, horror diva Barbara Steele as a devious government researcher, and longtime Corman regular Dick Miller as an unscrupulous entrepreneur ("Sir, the piranha are eating the guests").

The DVD features good-humored commentary by director Joe Dante and producer Jon Davison, who also narrate the 10 minutes of good-quality home-movie footage shot by Davison. There are also six minutes of outtakes. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • Never-before-seen footage on the making of Piranha
  • Bloopers and outtakes
  • Reproduction of original Theatrical Marketing Guide
  • Bonus 8-Page Booklet: The History of Roger Corman

Product Details

  • Actors: Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies-Urich, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller
  • Directors: Joe Dante
  • Writers: John Sayles, Richard Robinson
  • Producers: Chako van Leeuwen, Jeff Schechtman, Jon Davison, Roger Corman
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Special Edition, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: New Concorde
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 1999
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305596247
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,588 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Piranha (20th Anniversary Special Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Joe Dante's Piranha is a very humorous spoof and a fine homage to Steven Spielberg's classic Jaws. Though plagued with poor acting from Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, and Keenan Wynn, this is definitely not the type of film that you would ever take seriously. The inside film jokes and cinema references add a lot of intelligent spice to the film's proceedings, but it is the cheesy yet effective special effects by Phil Tippett (Robocop) that make Piranha a must see for mosnter movie buffs. Watch out for the obviously fake piranha as they make a spectacular bloddy debacle of a children's summer camp. The DVD edition of Piranha has many elaborate features including a Joe Dante commenty, a making-of-documentary, film bloppers, and other theatrical trailers of Corman films. P.S. Joe Dante would later go on to direct such horror classics as The Howling and Gremlins.
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Format: DVD
A justifiable cult classic, PIRANHA boasts an impressive pedigree. Oscar nominated screenwriter John Sayles; director Joe Dante (Gremlins); and some fine character actors: Bradford Dillman, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, Barbara Steele. The attacks are vicious and quickly paced so you don't pay too much attention to the cheesy special effects. There's satire about the military as well. There are some good suspense sequences, and I almost forgot: Body Snatcher's Kevin McCarthy is on board as the misguided scientist. The best of the subsequent spinoffs, PIRANHA is a great little horror classic.
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Format: DVD
Where would we be without the venerable Roger Corman? Lovers of B-movie madness would likely have a lot more time on their hands to read books, interact with family, or take part in generally otherwise fulfilling life experiences had old Rog chosen a different career path. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, Corman sat out in Hollywood for three or four decades making low budget exploitation films. He also tried to cash in on every movie fad in modern cinema. And I do mean EVERY fad. You see, Roger had a dream to take an idea and make a profitable picture out of it that would entertain the masses. The problem was that someone else invariably had the idea first. Thus Lucas's "Star Wars" allowed Corman to unleash "Battle Beyond the Stars" on an unsuspecting public. Car chase movies saw Roger replying with "Grand Theft Auto" and "Eat My Dust." I could go on and on. There wasn't anything Corman couldn't do with someone else's idea. Perhaps the best example is "Piranha," a 1978 ripoff of Spielberg's "Jaws." This film made our man a lot of money, which allowed him to make even more spectacular ripoffs for years to come.

The flick starts with a couple of kids breaking into some sort of rundown fish hatchery for an evening swim. Something in the water kills them. End of movie. Seriously, something rather nasty does do away with the two idiots. We then see an insurance investigator by the name of Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies on loan from Julie Andrews) heading out to discover what happened to these two dolts. She rather quickly hooks up with an embittered alcoholic with a penchant for flannel named Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman channeling Grizzly Adams) who lives in a cabin down by the river. Somehow or other Maggie convinces Paul to head over to the fish hatchery with her.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Jaws (1975) frightened a whole generation of people out of the water. Why? Because of the very real elements within the film, being that there are sharks in the oceans, and occasionally they do attack people. Do they ever get as large as the one in the film? Possibly...regardless, the fear was real forward to 1978...prolific B movie director/producer Roger Corman, in an effort to capitalize on the immense popularity of the film Jaws, released Piranha, directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, Innerspace, The `burbs) and written by John Sayles (The Howling, Wild Thing), which, while didn't elicit the response anywhere near that of the film it borrows from, still provides us with a great deal of entertainment (genetically altered super fish just didn't come across with the same level of realism as a giant man-eating shark).
The film stars Branford Dillman, who, along with his extensive television credits, appeared in scores of films like Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and The Swarm (1978), to name a couple. Also starring is Heather Menzies, who appeared in films like The Sound of Music (1965), SSSSSSS (1973), along with various television shows throughout the 70's. Rounding out the cast are Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Paul Bartel, Barbara Steele (Caged Heat and Shivers), Melody Thomas Scott, and character actors Dick Miller and Keenan Wynn.
The film opens at night with two victims, er...
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Format: DVD
As a kid growing up on all the classic monster films on TV, this low-budget Roger Corman creature feature was always one of my favorites. As a teenage video collector in the 90's, I found this to be nearly impossible to find on VHS. Now as an adult in my early 20's, I own not only the video but have recently picked up the DVD and what a trip down memory lane, this "special edition" was for me.
"Piranha" is Corman's answer to "Jaws", a bad genre film that takes joy in being a bad genre film. When a private investigator goes looking for two missing kids at an old army test, she unwittingly releases a school of mutated killer piranha into the town's river system. With the help of a local mountain man, the two try to warn everyone from the military to a local resort. As is always the case in these films, the military has another agenda and they don't want the truth revealed.
Over the years, "Piranha" has earned a reputation as a true cult classic. With a great script from John Sayles, an amazing musical score from Pino Donaggio, and tremendous performances from underrated actors like Dick Miller, Keenan Wynn, Paul Bartel, and horror legend Barbara Steele, "Piranha" is the ultimate "nature goes wrong" B-movie.
My only real complaint about this DVD is that it is presented in a full-frame format (though the opening credits are finally presented in widescreen as the other way cuts the names pretty badly). Well, that and the fact that they didn't include any of the added footage from the original network TV version. Those complaints aside, it is good to hear director Joe Dante (who went on to direct "Gremlins") and producer Jon Davison reminisicing on the filming of this movie. Not to mention, the added value of seeing lots of never-before-seen footage from the making of the film. If you loved this movie growing up or are just a fan of the classic "creature feature" titles, this is a must-have.
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