Friday, May 06, 2005

Oh, and if all your friends decided to attack a helpless swimmer, would you do that, too?: "Piranha"

So the missus was out of town last weekend, and you know what that means. Strip club crawl? Century club at a nearby watering hole? Carefully plotted revolt against local government? Um, try "Watching a bunch of crappy movies on Saturday night." Yep, I'm officially old.

While there were plenty of respectable films on my weekend slate, I was particularly proud of "Piranha," a '70s-era gem that I knew to be a blatant attempt to cash in on the "Jaws" craze. Would you believe that this is John Sayles' first movie writing credit? Yeah, the "Lone Star" and "Eight Men Out" guy. But hey ... maybe I'm being too hard on this movie. After all, when you've got Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies as your lead actors, you're pretty much guaranteed front row at the Oscars. Am I right, or am I right?

Anyway, "Piranha" is just what you expect: silly B-movie fun, with killer fish terrorizing various parties along a river. It actually was riveting to watch this movie and recognize virtually none of the actors. I mean, the only "name" guys were Keenan Wynn (an old veteran of westerns) and Kevin McCarthy, most famous for the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." In retrospect, isn't that a hell of a movie title? Really, if that hadn't come out (three times) before now, it would bring people to the cineplexes in droves. "Body Snatchers?" ... what's that all about?

In the end, "Piranha" is amusing but pretty inane. Don't get me wrong ... I appreciate unabashed overacting, low-budget horror, cheesy '70s wardrobes and random boob shots as much as anyone. But just because you throw a reverb sound effect into scenes of nibbling fish doesn't mean it's scary. If you really want to impress me, put the movie's budget in the opening credits. Then I might be more appreciative. "Hey, this sucked, but what do you expect for 63 bucks?"


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