Piranha (1995)

piranha poster 1995 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Killer fish

Removes the humor which stepped up the original

Movie Info

Movie Name: Piranha

Studio: Concorde-New Horizons

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): October 1, 1995

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

piranha william katt fish

We’re going to need a bigger raft

When Maggie McNamara (Alexandra Paul) is hired to find a missing girl, she recruits a recluse named Paul Grogan (William Katt) to help her investigate an abandoned mountain government facility.  Maggie and Paul empty the water of a holding tank and unwittingly release a horror into the world.  Genetically engineered piranha created to hunt, multiply, and kill are now travelling down the river and headed to the ocean where they could spawn and multiply indefinitely.  It is a race against time as the piranha eat their way down the river, and the carnage increases!

Directed by Scott P. Levy, Piranha is a made-for-TV horror film remake of the 1978 movie of the same title.  The film was produced by Roger Corman and aired on Showtime.

I loved Piranha as a kid.  It was scary and funny.  As a kid, I didn’t see the satire and comedy as much as I did later, but the fun thing about the movie is that the scares worked too.  The made-for-TV version of Piranha pretty much eliminates the laughs and focuses on the horror and gore.

piranha mila kunis soleil moon frye

Trust me…there’s nothing in the water that going to eat you…if I’m lying, I’m dying

Despite chucking parts of the script, the script is pretty much identical to the original film.  There are a few places where it was modernized, but mostly the tale remains the same.  If you have seen and know Piranha it is almost like watching a weird shot-for-shot remake with a different cast and a different tone.  It is more of a horror film, but it also lacks the depth of the original.

The cast is very much of the day.  You have The Greatest American Hero William Katt playing the cantankerous recluse who becomes the unwitting partner of Alexandra Paul.  Replacing Kevin McCarthy with a gender swap, Darleen Carr plays the scientists who is there to explain what is happening (and she still dies in a really, really stupid way).  Punky Brewster Soleil Moon Frye plays the nice camp counselor to a young Mila Kunis while James Karen has a small role of another guy ignoring what is happening much like he did in Poltergeist.  The heavy is Monte Markham who does have a smarmy look to him.

piranha william katt alexandra paul darleen carr dog killed

Boy…that dog was dumb

As mentioned, much of the film is almost shot-for-shot.  The low-budget nature of the original Piranha really hasn’t been improved upon (shots of the fish moving through water still looks the same), but it is interesting that one of the best shots in the movie is recreated (Soleil Moon Frye’s death as she sinks into the bloody water).  It was always an impressive death in the original movie (though that is the clearest deepest, river water I’ve ever seen when the surface just looks like a small creek).

Piranha is what it is.  It is a relatively short movie and that is a plus.  The horror existed in the first film, but it was aided by a smarter story that took what it was and laughed about it.  The sound of the piranha attacks always creeped me out, and it still does.  The piranha swam again in 2010 in Piranha 3D which did change up the story (and added the humor back in).  This Piranha is pretty skippable, but I would have loved to see a 1990s remake of James Cameron’s Piranha II: The Spawning when the piranhas took flight.

Related Links:

Piranha (1978)

Piranha II:  The Spawning (1981)

Piranha 3D (2010)

Piranha 3DD (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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