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I’m still looking forward for the time I can go to the cinema without Michael Bay wiping Megan Fox’s mutant thumb on me and then sending me shamefully home without cab fare. So month of Corman will continue with the 1978 classic, Piranha!. Directed by Joe Dante, this film was seen as a parody of Jaws and even saw a bit of legal trouble as some Hollywood asshat lawyer couldn’t tell the difference between a swarm of tiny chainsaw fish killing people in a river and a overgrown descendant of megalodon killing people in the ocean. In the end, Stephen Spielberg gave Corman his blessing and all was forgiven. Joe Dante went on to direct some of my favorite films including Gremlins and The Burbs and is currently at the helm of WGN’s series about witches, Salem. Corman is responsible for so many film legends as you will see during month of Corman. And now, Piranha!
The 1978 film which shares the same name of these terrible Characidae is produced by the awesome Roger Corman and stars Bradford Dillman. Dillman portrays Paul Grogan, a washed up drunk that nobody believes when he tries to warn them of a swarm of hungry murderfish. He is joined by possibly the stupidest woman on the face of the planet played by Heather Menzies. She manages to break into an abandoned top secret government facility (guarded by the stupidest scientist on Earth), and flushes a whole school of teethy bastards into the local river system. We also get to see some of the mad scientists creations, including a tiny lizard of some kind that looks like he will come back to save the day latter in the movie.
The Piranha make their way down river where they chew through a summer camp, a few unlucky fisherman, and a resort filled with strategically placed victims poised to die in the most extreme way possible. All the time our hero, the recovering town drunk Mr. Grogan, pleads with each authority figure to not let anyone into the water. His job would have been easier if the one scientist who could have given any credibility to his story died in the most useless and ridiculous way possible. This scientist, played by Kevin McCarthy reveals that his team of researchers created a strain of highly adaptable and ferocious piranha that were designed to destroy the North Vietnamese river system during the Vietnam war. He is the one guy with the scientific know how to really save the day, instead he jumps into the water to save some stupid kid and selfishly kills himself and dooms the waterways of Texas to run red with blood.
The best and most awful part of the movie is witnessing the piranha take hurried vicious nibbles out of anyone unlucky enough to be in the water. Director Joe Dante got something terribly right with piranha and it not letting kids escape unharmed. Kids get seriously fucked up in Piranha and its fantastic. One of my all time pet peeves in film is that kids somehow seem to narrowly escape death. Everyone knows children are the stupidest kind of human and on top of that they are weak as fuck. Every nature show ever made shows the lions or crocodiles targeting and eating the younger members of the herd, but somehow in Hollywood, they always save the kids. In Piranha, they funnel a swarm of razor blades with gills directly toward a summer camp filled with children, and they fare about as well as that baby water buffalo you saw on the discovery channel.
Piranha is awesome and the gore is painful yet fun to watch, and somehow I got the impression that the film was a metaphor for out use of agent orange in the Vietnam war, but I don’t want to think that much into it. Piranha is ridiculous and a damn good time. See you next time on…… MONTH OF CORMAN!!!
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.