Ladies and Gents from Cinema Head Cheese, another review by Rob Sibley
Oh 1976 a year I love for the sheer fact that it brought us the excellent â€œJaws ripoffâ€ known as Piranha. Directed by a young Joe Dante, way before the fame of The Howling & Gremlins. Written by the ever so talented John Sayles who went on two write two of my favorites. The great â€œAlligatorâ€ and the awesome film noir â€œThe Lady In Redâ€. Not to mention his other collaboration with Dante on The Howling and writing one of the best baseball movies of all time â€œEight Men Outâ€.
Piranha was produced by the almighty Roger Corman and you really shouldn’t be reading this review if you don’t know who the man is. The flick was produced for about 600,000 with a short shooting schedule of 30 days. I don’t think anyone would have thought the film would have turned out half as good as it did.
Made because Jaws was a hit (Something Corman admits to) Universal was even planning on sueing Dante and crew until Spielberg himself saw the picture and loved it. Because it’s a spoof of those killer fish movies. Piranha doesn’t take itself seriously, all involved were well aware of what they were making. It’s surprising how tongue and cheek this film turned out because Corman was never a fan of humor in his films and many times would edit out the comedy like he did with the classic â€œForbidden World aka Mutantâ€.
The plots simple, two peeps decide to go skinny dipping at an abandoned military base and are soon eaten up. This leads to private detective Maggie McKeown to team up with the towns local drunk to find out â€œWhat the fuck is going on at Lost River lake?
Were to start… this film is pure cheese and that’s a-okay with this brute. I have fond memories of the film actually scaring me when I was a kid. When the kids at the local summer camp start getting chomped on by the Piranha’s I said â€œfuck thatâ€ to summer camp. I was four at the time, I had no idea that Piranha’s didn’t inhabit local lakes so give me a break.
Some people will say this is â€œNot a good filmâ€. Your right, it’s a â€œFun flick!â€ which is much harder to come by… especially these days. Sure the effects are shoddy and the Piranha’s are clearly made of rubber and are held up by sticks but that’s part of the charm.
I’ll take fake looking rubber Piranha’s over the bad CGI looking ones of the two remakes and the dreadful James Cameron directed sequel â€œPiranha 2: The Spawningâ€. Cameron loves saying it isn’t his first film because he left production after a few days… no dude you were fired because your ego was already huge even when you were building sets and puppets for Corman during the Galaxy of terror days.
My personal feelings on Cameron’s ego aside, you can’t go wrong with Piranha. It was a fun film as a kid and now as an adult I can fully appreciate the films witty sense of humor.
Piranha is brought to the UK for the first time on Blu-ray courtesy of Second Sight pictures. Take in mind my fellow Americans this is a Region B Blu-ray so you’ll need an all region player if your interested.
Now Shout Factory released this on Blu-ray in the US and did a stellar job, does this release top that? Well they are on equal playing fields… almost
The biggest difference between the two is the UK release is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio where as the Shout Factory release was released in a 1.78:1 ratio. So you get more top and bottom information out of Shouts release but either transfer doesn’t hurt the film. First Sights transfer looks stunning, I mean that as stunning for a film that was shot on a shoe-string budget. So don’t expect super fine detail or anything like that but the colors are certainly improved and detail here and there are okay. But it’s certainly much better then the films previous incarnations on DVD.
The films extras are nearly identical to Shouts, except they didn’t carry over everything from the Shout release but you have all the major extras. An excellent funny commentary track with Dante and producer Jon Davison. They commentary track was recorded for the original New Concord DVD which was released over a decade ago but this is still a must listen for fans of the film.
Next up we have a nice making of documentary that covers all the bases. Then you get some 8MM behind the scenes footage from the set with voice overs from Corman and Davison. Fun stuff. Then we get some really fantastic outtakes, the actors lose their shit in funny ways. A stills gallery and some TV Spots and trailers are included.
This is a fantastic release from Second Sight, UK fans will appreciate a chance to finally have this gem of a creature feature in it’s Hi-Def glory! HIGHLY RECCOMENDED