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Piranha  (1978)

Cast: Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele
Director: Joe Dante
U.S. Distribution: New World
U.S. Release Date: 8/3/78
Running Time: 1:34
MPAA Rating: R

Deadly piranha (or as Kevin McCarthy calls them, "pee-ron-YA") are set free into the waters surrounding Lost River Lake in Roger Corman's "homage to Jaws".

The government is to blame (say it isn't so) with some sort of germ warfare radiation exposure. "Operation Razorteeth" was meant to destroy the river systems of North Vietnam, not to unleash the ultimate killing fish on hundreds of innocent swimmers.

Bradford Dillman is very lacking as the leading man. Heather Menzies is only slightly better as his unlikely partner, although she does have some tomboyish appeal. Fortunately, there are some familiar faces in supporting roles including Keenan Wynn in a memorably gory scene.

Without question, the toothy predators are the real stars, thanks to decent special and sound effects - low-budget, but effective - and fine direction. The film's saving grace is a wild raft scene where the fish show off that they aren't just mindless beasts.

© 1999, Delton Perrodin

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