Classic Jaws rip-off from Roger Corman is a lot of fun mostly because it playfully acknowledges it’s inspiration yet, becomes it’s own movie and is all the more entertaining for it. The story revolves around a school of genetically altered piranha in a remote mountain military research station. When they claim the lives of two teens, the investigator searching for them, Maggie (Heather Menzies) and her reluctant, alcoholic mountain guide, Paul (Bradford Dillman) accidentally free the ferocious fish into the local river and are now frantically trying to stop them before they reach a summer camp and a water theme park. Piranha is gory and campy but, not without some tense sequences too as when the carnivorous fish attack the summer camp filled with kids. The cast has fun but, treats their roles just serious enough to make it work and that allows the audience to buy into it just enough to have a good time. Directed with equal parts humor and horror by Joe Dante (who went on to direct The Howling and Gremlins) from a witty script by Howling scribe John Sayles, Piranha transcends it’s rip-off status to become a classic in it’s own right. Also stars Kevin McCarthy as the scientist who created them, Barbara Steele, Keenan Wynn and Corman regulars Paul Bartel, as a grumpy camp counselor and Dick Miller, as a shady theme park owner. Another Corman flick filled with talents who would go on to their own fame and fortune.
If you like this, Alexandre Aja’s 2010 remake is also a real blast too, taking the boobs and blood to new heights!
3 and 1/2 fanged fish!
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980)
Yet another camp classic from Roger Corman and his New World Pictures and one I’m proud to say I saw at my beloved Oritani Theater in Hackensack, N.J. Humanoids has an army of fish creatures, born of genetic experiments on salmon, descending on a quiet coastal fishing village to kill and mate… with human women. As with the best of Corman’s productions, this one is made with just the right mix of seriousness and camp to make the story work. The film is well directed by Barbara Peeters though Corman felt the film lacked the more exploitative elements needed to sell it and brought in James Sbardellati to direct the more graphic scenes of sex, nudity and gore to be added in. Peeters was apparently very unhappy with the changes Corman made, as was star Ann Turkel who plays scientist Dr. Susan Drake, who created the creatures and now seeks to help destroy them. And as for the cast… a cast lead by Doug McClure (as fisherman Jim Hill) and Vic Morrow (as rival fisherman and town douchebag, Hank Slattery)… they treat the material with the respect it deserves and that adds weight despite it’s far fetched story. Despite the artistic differences between Corman and his director, the film is bloody good time and loaded with all the fun characteristics we expect from a Roger Corman movie and that’s what counts. Also characteristic of a Roger Corman film, future talents are present behind the scenes. Here it is makeup FX legend Rob Bottin providing creatures and plentiful gore and, one of today’s top composers, James Horner. A really gory, fun movie of the kind they rarely make anymore.
3 and 1/2 horny hybrid horrors!