Piranha (1978, Joe Dante)

Definitely a spoof on Jaws. Actually makes a stronger case of “don’t go in the water” than Jaws. Piranha came three years later. Writer John Sayles’ first movie! Exec-produced by Roger Corman. Remade twice, for some reason, once starring William Katt from House. Sequel was of course Piranha II: The Spawning, James Cameron’s first movie.

I’m on a Joe Dante kick. Obviously influenced by the film critics’ strange love of his work, a nostalgic desire to see Gremlins again, and the just-learned fact that Dante was born in Morristown and grew up in Parsippany.

Kevin McCarthy was great as the crazy scientist who secretly continues an army experiment to breed ravenous fresh-and-salt-water piranha. Wish I’d gotten a screen shot of him before returning the DVD.

Ambitious is the movie with a drunken, antisocial, bearded mountain man as protagonist (Bradford Dillman: Briggs in Dirty Harry 4). He and missing persons detective Heather Menzies (of the 1979 Captain America) must warn the world of the killer piranha that they themselves accidentally unleashed… and quickly, before the fish eat Bradford’s daughter at a camp downstream. Italian horror star Barbara Steele is the crazy scientist’s ex, who tries to thwart our heroes, along with Joe Dante fave Dick Miller (of the 1960 Little Shop of Horrors), Death Race 2000 director Paul Bartel, and some army guys. I didn’t notice, but Keenan Wynn of Clonus and Laserblast also appeared. The two fail to stop the fish, but at least the daughter is saved.

Movie amazingly did not suck, was more funny than anything else. Gore/action/creature effects could’ve been edited more tightly, but I guess they wanted to show off what little they had.