[[caption-width-right:300:Totally [[Film/{{Jaws}} original]] [[SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute poster]], [[BlatantLies we swear]]!]]

''This entry is for the original 1978 movie and its sequels. For the 2010 remake and its sequel see here: '''Film/Piranha3D'''''

''Piranha'' is a 1978 [[BMovie B]] comedy-horror film, directed by Creator/JoeDante and written by director-to-be Creator/JohnSayles, about a swarm of [[AttackOfTheKillerWhatever genetically-engineered killer piranhas]].

Two teens break into an abandoned facility to engage in a spot of skinnydipping in the reservior, and are promptly pulled under and torn to shreds. The next day, insurance investigator Maggie [=McKeown=] (Heather Menzies) is dispatched to find them. Teaming up with local hillbilly Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman), the two enter the facility themselves and inadvertently drain the critters engineered by resident mad scientist Dr. Robert Hoak (Kevin [=McCarthy=]) as part of the now-defunct operation Razorteeth ([[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar in which they would be unleashed into the riverways of North Vietnam]]) into the river; wherein they make themselves en route to a nearby summer camp where Grogan's daughter is staying, and ultimately the ocean...

In many respects a parody of ''Film/{{Jaws}}'', Universal Studios initially threatened to sue until Creator/StevenSpielberg saw it himself and loved it. In 1981 it got itself a sequel titled ''Film/PiranhaPartTwoTheSpawning'' in which the piranhas ''fly'' and which happens to be the directorial debut of Creator/JamesCameron.

The first film was rather pointlessly remade as a [[MadeForTVMovie TV movie]] in 1995, most notable for starring a young Creator/MilaKunis and for [[StockFootage reusing footage]] from the original film.

A more notable 3D remake, ''Film/Piranha3D'', eventually arrived in summer 2010, directed by Creator/AlexandreAja. Shifting the action to Lake Victoria and ditching the GovernmentConspiracy set-up in favour of an equally implausible plot involving prehistoric versions of the eponymous fish, it was BloodierAndGorier, HotterAndSexier and generally [[RefugeInAudacity revelled in its own silliness]]. A sequel to the remake, ''Film/Piranha3DD'', was released in 2012.

!!The original films and TV remake provide examples of:

* AgonyOfTheFeet: Jack bleeds to death when the piranha attack his feet.
* AnimalMotifs: Lots of sealife motifs are present.
* AttackOfTheKillerWhatever: Biologically-modified piranha.
* AttackOfTheTownFestival: Actually an opening of the swim resort, but close enough.
* BMovie: Overall, the film carries its designation on its sleeve proudly. As well, ''Film/TheMonsterThatChallengedTheWorld'' from 1957 appears on a scene.
* CassandraTruth: Partially because the government covers it up until the last possible second, and partially because it is hard to believe that an American river is full of ''genetically modified piranha'', the heroes are believed to be insane or drunk (and put in jail for a short while).
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: Lots.
* DartboardOfHate: Of the leader of the children's camp.
* DeadpanSnarker: Paul. He has no problem pretending to be proud to be the town drunk, among other things.
* DeadStarWalking: [[spoiler:Keenan Wynn as Jack,]] who appears in only two scenes before [[spoiler:his legs are devoured by the piranhas, and he bleeds to death.]]
%%* DeepSouth
* DeathBySex: Promiscuous resort-goers.
* DiabolusExMachina: A female scientist (played by Barbara Steele) says that [[spoiler:[[BlatantLies the piranhas won't survive in salt water]]. Cue a beautiful dusk shot of the sea... and the piranhas' distinctive growling.]]
* DistractedByTheSexy: Maggie distracts a soldier so Paul can knock him out by flashing her breasts at him. The soldier looks to be ''very'' pleased by that... for a couple of seconds, at least.
* DrowningMySorrows: Jack is an alcoholic and this has completely destroyed his marriage, which drove him to drink more.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: Two boats crash in the original film explodingly.
%%* EyeOpen
* FilmAtEleven: Said by the reporter at the end.
-->'''Reporter''': "Terror, horror, death. Film at eleven."
* FlyingSeaFoodSpecial: The second film has ''flying piranha''.
* GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke: Genetically-engineered killer piranhas. 'Nuff said.
* GilliganCut: Maggie is told to go to a dam to find missing teenagers:
-->'''Maggie:''' Well come on, let's go.
-->'''Paul:''' Go where?
-->'''Maggie:''' You're taking me up there.
-->'''Paul:''' Oh, no, I'm not.
-->[''Cut to him accompanying her to the dam'']
* {{Gorn}}: Lots of blood and bite marks everywhere (even on children).
* GovernmentConspiracy: Operation Razorteeth.
* HazardousWater: Being full of piranha sure makes it that.
* HellIsThatNoise: The piranhas make a noise similar to chatter or buzz-saws on most of the scenes they are in... which are them eating people.
* InfantImmortality: Averted. The piranha attack a children's summer camp right when it's making a swimming competition and the resort attacked afterwards has various kids. Very few escape unscathed.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero / CreateYourOwnVillain: Nice job releasing the piranha from their completely isolated pool, hero. Jeez.
* OperationBlank: "Operation Razorteeth", the government project to genetically engineer piranha capable of living anywhere (even oceans) to use as a riverine denial weapon in UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar. Dr. Hoak reminisces the experimentation days by telling the heroes that the government spared absolutely no expense on the project... and as usual, when the project became unnecessary, they arrived and did clean-up work without bothering to see if it was actually thorough.
* PiranhaProblem
* PyrrhicVictory: In the original movie Paul and Maggie manage to get rid of the piranha, but the river ends being polluted.
* SmugSnake: The female scientist constantly assumes that the piranha are incapable of solving problems or surviving the traps the military places for them, and her assurance that all the piranha are dead at the end [[spoiler:([[TheEndOrIsIt yeah, right]])]] is delivered with a very smug little smile.
* StockFootage: The TV remake shamelessly re-uses the underwater shots from the original.
* SuitWithVestedInterests: The General in charge of the military detachment that gets sent to deal with the piranha happens to be a major investor of the swim resort that is about to open, and because of this one of the biggest reasons he wishes to keep the situation quiet (even if this may get people killed) is to prevent tourists from being spooked away from the grand opening. [[spoiler:He gets his JustDesserts when the piranha attack the resort's opening and the ship he's in gets overloaded with panicking tourists, tossing him into the water and eaten.]]
* TheresNoBInMovie: In the original movie some guard watches ''Film/TheMonsterThatChallengedTheWorld'' from 1957.
* TheEndOrIsIt: [[spoiler: Both the original movie and TV remake end with Paul polluting the river and seemingly killing off all of the piranha, only for the last scene in both movies to imply that the piranhas have survived and made it to the ocean.]]
%%* TotallyRadical
%%* WeirdMoon
* WhatTheHellHero: Dr. Hoak has very little problem reminding Jack and Maggie that ''they'' were the ones that drained the tank where the piranha lived, releasing them into the river.