Piranha (1995)

DVD Cover (New Concorde Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 39%
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Ranked #3,913
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Genres / Traits: Horror Natural Horror Fish

Connections: Piranha

Doctor Baines has been conducting genetic experiments on piranhas and has made them virtually unstoppable. Unfortunately, his assistants, Maggie and Paul, accidentally release the hybrids into the Lost River Lake threatening to destroy everyone in their path. Can they prevent the flesh-eating piranhas from escaping into the ocean and spawning? --TMDb
William Katt
William Katt
Alexandra Paul
Alexandra Paul
Monte Markham
Monte Markham
Darleen Carr
Darleen Carr
Mila Kunis
Mila Kunis
Review by Chad
Added: February 19, 2009
When doing a remake for anything other than profit, a filmmaker needs to ask himself a few questions. The first one is "Does this film really need a remake?" Some movies, such as The Last House on the Left, have good ideas but fail to fully follow through with them - in that case, yes, a remake is perfectly acceptable. Piranha? Well, I enjoyed the hell out of that movie, but in the right hands, a remake could have been good. The second question that needs to be answered is "Can I improve upon the original?" Again, some movies just aren't very good, yet their storylines hold a world of potential. The Hills Have Eyes is a good example of a movie that passed this test with flying colors, while The Omen is an example of a remake that couldn't even come close to comparing to its source. Piranha is one of those guilty pleasure films that I love to death, but yes, it could have been improved upon. Finally, that filmmaker must ask himself if he can bring something new to the table with his vision - if he's planning a shot-by-shot and a line-by-line remake as was the case with Quarantine, then really, why bother? The Piranha universe has a lot of room for growth, so any writer worth his salt could have thrown in some new ideas to freshen the film up while still retaining the charm of the original. Unfortunately, this remake does none of the above and is content to simply deliver a rehash of the original.

I'm going to cheat a little and copy my plot synopsis from the original film over to this review, because really, the two films play out in almost exactly the same way. It's sort of telling that I can copy the whole damned thing over and only have to change the names of the cast members, but, hey, it saves me a bit of typing. So, with that said...

If you've seen Jaws or any of the other "man versus nature" releases, you already know how this one plays out. It all begins with a couple of kids hiking through the woods, when they come across an abandoned military base with a huge "No Trespassing" sign prominently displayed over its chained gates. This being a horror flick and all, they ignore the sign and and enter the site, where they encounter what appears to be a gigantic swimming pool. What do all fresh-faced teens do when they encounter a body of water in a horror movie? They peel off their clothes and jump in for some skinny-dipping under the moonlight, that's what. Unfortunately, they discover a little too late that this was not a swimming pool as originally imagined: it was a holding tank for the genetically-engineered piranha that the army developed for to use during wartime, and being the hungry little bastards that these fish are, it doesn't take long before our teen lovers are reduced to a few strips of cloth and a whole lot of bones.

Moving ahead in time by a few weeks, we meet up with Maggie McNamara (Alexandra Paul), a private investigator who has been hired to find those two missing persons. Her searches lead her out to the boonies, where she meets Paul Grogan (William Katt), a mountain man who just so happens to live not far from that military base. The two decide to work together after a little persuasion on the part of Maggie, and they eventually wind up at the military site. After finding evidence that the two were indeed there in the not too distant past, Maggie decides to drain the pool to see if they somehow managed to drown in it. A crazy scientist (Darleen Carr) comes out of nowhere to stop them, but it's too late: the pool has been drained, and all of its contents have been flushed out into the nearby river... the river that runs right through a nearby summer camp, and the same river that is the main attraction of a recently-opened lakeside resort. Whoops. Our heroes quickly realize that they must warn both the summer camp and the resort about the little problem that is heading their way, but naturally, nobody believes them even after mauled bodies start turning up left and right.

It's hard to find many faults with this remake, because much like the aforementioned Quarantine, this is basically a retelling of the exact same story with comparable acting, effects, and bloodshed. Entire scenes in this film directly mirror those from the original right down to the wording of the sentences, and in fact, a number of the underwater scenes from the original were reused here. A few things have changed, sure, but it's nothing to write home about: the scientist responsible for breeding the piranha is now female instead of male, the sequencing of certain scenes have been reordered, the owner of the resort is revealed to be the guy who hired Maggie to find those missing kids, and... well, that's really about it. Well, there was one other thing worth mentioning, but this little nugget of trivia came no thanks to the filmmakers: Mila Kunis, the "little girl" who plays Paul's daughter, would go on to grow up (and out) and become known as the voice of Meg on Family Guy.

One fault that I did find with this rehash was the lackluster editing of certain scenes. As an example, we see Mila Kunis griping about not wanting to go swimming in the lake. That's fine, but a few scenes later, we catch up with her and see that she's hidden up under a boat with a huge bandage on her leg. Wait, what? Well, those of you who saw the original will know that one of the counselors slapped a bandage on her leg to try to get her out of having to swim and the kid then decided to hide out under the boat when the plan didn't work out, but all of that is skipped over here. There are countless examples to be found of this sort of thing, and I'm not even bitching about it because it removes elements from the original: I'm bitching because the film feels downright choppy at times, and if you haven't seen the original, you'll have no idea as to why this is happening or what the relevance of that was.

Overall, this is an unneeded remake, but it's not a completely horrible one. The gore is a little better in one or two scenes, the acting is worse in others (if you can believe that), and the storyline is almost entirely identical. You'll probably enjoy this if you enjoyed the original, but if you have indeed seen the original, you really have no reason to watch this one unless you're fanatical about the series. 6/10.
Nirrad #1: Nirrad - added 08/06/2008, 12:39 PM
Almost as good as the original. It was great to see Punky Brewster eat it, William Katt is great as usual. Someone needs to review the original, I used to have it on tape years ago and watched it all the time. The opening scene in the water tank was great. How you hear the girl scream, then it would show the moon with clouds passing. Unless you're stuck with the edited version, then all you see is the moon, and that sucked. But yeah, fun movie. 6/10 is about right. Not bad for a TV movie. At least I think it was.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 08/06/2008, 12:40 PM
Was it part 2 that had the flying piranhas? If so, that movie = awesomeness.
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 08/06/2008, 12:44 PM
Haha, it sure was part 2. Watched that bad boy on TBS back in the day. I was stunned when i found out that James Cameron was the director.
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