Piranha nibbles its way through pure B-movie schlock. The 70s. The box office was ruled by shark infested waters thanks to the masterpiece that was 'Jaws'. Many amateur directors at the time were capitalising on its success, which soon started a new wave of B-movie goodness. "Piranha is the best of the Jaws rip-offs" Spielberg said himself. Whilst I agree with him to a certain extent, there were quite a few issues that made this a floaty experience swarmed by pacing fluctuations. A reporter investigates the disappearance of two individuals, which soon transpires to be a race against genetically modified piranhas as they swim down the river system chomping at fresh human meat in an attempt to reach the expansive sea.
Dante, before he started creating classics in the 80s, did he best at imitating 'Jaws' but without Spielberg's finesse. Surprisingly though, this works in his favour and gives this schlocky feast some much needed charm. The mediocre acting, amateur directing and questionable visual effects (those stop-motion creatures in the lab? Oof. Delicious!) gave Piranha the ability to stand the test of time. It's hammy, but Dante fully knew this and embraced the ridiculousness of this premise. The underwater POV sequences acted as nods to 'Jaws' yet also parodied the sub-genre.
However, even at just ninety minutes, the plot was thinner than the strings holding those plastic piranhas. Once you hear that memorable sound when the piranhas attack (honestly reminds me of my washing machine), then you've heard and seen it all. It doesn't change the routine narrative and consequently becomes severely repetitive. Human in water, piranhas swarm, swimming in blood, next victim. In between the chomping and the munching is a mass amount of bland dialogue that is unable to give the characters personality and oversimplifies an already simple concept. Dillman and Menzies' main characters were expendable, and to be frank I didn't care for them. Dante was unable to crank up and maintain the tension, ultimately leaving this classic residing at the bottom of its dirty lake. Fun, but dull.