Just when you thought it was safe to go into the river.
Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies-Urich) is a private investigator. She has been hired by the father of a missing girl. His daughter and her boyfriend disappeared without a trace. Maggie meets up with Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman). He knows the area better than anyone else but he is an alcoholic. She convinces him to help her find the missing kids. The two of them find an abandoned government test site. On the site is a pool. They drain the pool to see what's in it.
Dr. Hoak (Kevin McCarthy) is the sole resident of the test site. In a violent assault he tries to stop them from emptying the pool but he is too late. He tells them that the pool was filled with genetically engineered piranha. They were part of a gene splicing experiment called "Operation Razorteeth". The mutant fish were designed to be used in the Vietnam War. They were to be released in Vietnamese waterways. The fish could live in cold water and breed at a high rate. They also have a voracious appetite. They are a biological weapon. Why else does the government do anything? Now they are loose and headed down river and down river is the summer camp that Paul's daughter is at.
"Piranha" was released in 1978 and was directed by Joe Dante. Like sharks piranhas have had a surge in the realm of horror movies. The first and best in the piranha sub genre was brought to us by Roger Corman in 1978 with his cult classic “Piranha”. Not only is this well done, but surprisingly it has a cast of veteran stars and well known character actors. With a screenplay by John Sayles and special effects by Rob Bottin it’s hard to find another “B” movie with so much talent behind it. And the budget on this gem was approx. $600,000. Add to that lots of blood and you got yourself one dandy of a horror movie.
Played straight it still has enough camp to satisfy all those “B” movie lovers. Between the summer camp, a newly opened tourist attraction and a military team led by the head of the Razorteeth project, Colonel Waxman (Bruce Gordon), much mayhem ensues as well as blood, teeth and skeletal remains.
If you love classic horror movies and you do not have this one in your collection you are missing out. It is the best of the best as far as Piranhas are concerned.
The piranha were done by attaching rubber puppet fish to sticks. Universal Studios attempted to sue New World for spoofing "Jaws" (1975). However, Steven Spielberg saw the movie in advance and loved it. After that, Universal dropped the lawsuit.