Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Piranha (1996)

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for September 29, 1996
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

piranha Last week I decided it was time to update my personal ad. I think it had something to do with Wanda Bodine telling me that I was "the kind of scumball that no sane woman would ever date." I mean, who could resist a challenge like that.
First I tried my usual flat-out lies:
"Michael Bolton-lover likes trips to the botanical gardens, wine coolers and long phone conversations about what your cat did this morning.
"Looks not important, but a wise, commitment-minded soul is. Please be serious about tofu."
This kind of ad ALWAYS works, but you end up with gals named Valerie who work at the Whole-Earth Vitamin Store. Been there, done that.
OK, so next I tried my "man of iron" ad: "Whitewater canoe guide (competed in three Olympics) desires Amazon to trek the Arctic Circle in snowshoes and make passionate love in an orange pup tent.
"You should be a mountaineer who can bench-press 200 pounds and still fit into a size 4 plastic dress (for those wild nights in Anchorage).
"How 'bout them Rangers?"
Unfortunately, this ad ALSO works, but you end with girls named Jeri who might decide at any moment to abandon you for a woman named Velma.
No, what I needed was the perfect '90s ad-sensitive, but not TOO sensitive; macho, but not TOO macho; and, above all, totally deceptive.
So here's what I came up with:
"Hi! How you doing? Want a hopeless romantic who will cater to your every need? Well, maybe I will and maybe I WON'T, depending on your MOOD. Because no matter how crazy and illogical you become, I always just GO WITH IT!
"Need somebody to pick up your cousin at the airport? I'm your man!
"Need somebody to send flowers at the PRECISE moment you're considering suicide but you haven't told anybody? I have ESP!
"Do you get easily bored when a guy is too nice to you? I'd love to slap you around, but only if you beg for it!
"Always thought you wanted a man in your life, but once a real one shows up, you think, 'He's got a FLAW!' Well, now you've found ME.
"I'm a total chameleon. Call me, write me or e-mail me. I'm flexible. P.S. Be spontaneous! Send a photo! Topless spandex would be nice, unless you feel like wearing Birkenstocks and overalls!"
So what do you think?

piranha Do I understand the woman of the '90s or WHAT? Speaking of flesh-eating creatures, they remade "Piranha." Can you believe it? The original filmed-in-Texas, Joe-Dante-directed "Piranha" is a '70s cult classic, but I have to say, they really screwed it up this time.

They have these giant mutant fish that were bred at a secret military installation, and now they're out there devouring skinny-dipping teen-agers and careless motorboating enthusiasts.

But wait! Here comes Alexandra Paul, the doggedly determined and stylishly dressed private eye who travels to the boonies searching for the missing slutty daughter of a real estate developer.

Fortunately, she runs into sullen novelist William Katt of House, and together the two of them pole down the river on a log raft, chasing the killer piranha as they get closer and closer to a kids' summer camp and an opening-day river resort celebration.

Sure, we've seen it before, but have we seen it with giant bug-eyed piranha that actually SCREECH LOUDLY as they chew up the legs of their victims?
I think not.
In short, this movie doesn't make a lick of sense, but who can complain when it has a stellar performance by Soleil Moon Frye as the sensitive camp counselor?

Nineteen dead bodies.
One dead cat.
One dead dog.
Four breasts.
Aquarium to the head.
Multiple leg-eating.
Killer raft-eating piranha attack.
The old “shards-of-porcelain-in-a-sock” trick.
Three motor-vehicle crashes, with dead deer.
Arm rolls.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for ...
Lorissa McComas, as the skinny-dipping teen-ager who has two enormous talents.
Darleen Carr, as the crazed, grapple-hook-wielding piranha expert who says: "Razorteeth! They breed! There's no way to stop them!"
William Katt, as the mumbling novelist who says, "The fish were bred for intelligence and endurance and God knows what else!" and: "The piranha are coming! You've got to believe me!"
Kehli O'Byrne, as the oversexed camp counselor who says, "I'm kind of like a promotion-you have to earn me."
And Billie Worley, as the groveling toady who says, "They're eating the guests, sir."
One and a half stars
Joe Bob says check it out

© 1996 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

Both versions of "Piranha" are available on video and on piranhaDVD from

Fun fact
In the 1978 film, the FBI warning at the end of the credits ends with the phrase "So There." Producer Jon Davison used the same joke for the FBI warning in his later picture "Airplane."

“Piranha 2” was scheduled for MonsterVision on 2-5-00, but replaced at the last minute by “Embrace Of The Vampire.” Monstervision hosts segment for Embrace Of The Vampire

Yet another remake of "Piranha" was made in 2006. James Cameron of Terminator and Titanic fame made the 1981 sequel to Roger Corman's original 1978 version of Piranha. He also did Battle Beyond the Stars (1980, additional photographer, as Jim Cameron) and another MonsterVision classic, Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979, as production assistant, uncredited, and miniature constructor/designer). The following year he was matte artist and special effects director of photography on John Carpenter's Escape From New York

Host segments for Joe Dante's Gremlins

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