Piranha (1978)

35mm film, Metrocolor, 1.85:1
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Joe Dante.

Plot Summary

A shoal of experimental flesh-eating are accidently released from an abandoned facility deep in the woods. While the military struggle to cover up the incident, a group of civilians try to warn the owners of a newly opened summer resort that the are heading straight for their guests…


* = uncredited

Directed by: Joe Dante
© 1978 Piranha Productions
New World Pictures presents
Executive Producers: Roger Corman, Jeff Schechtman
Produced by: Jon Davison
Co-producer: Chako Van Leeuwen
Screenplay by: John Sayles; Joe Dante *
Story by: Richard Robinson, John Sayles
Director of Photography: Jamie Anderson
Editors: Mark Goldblatt, Joe Dante
Music by: Pino Donaggio
Location Mixer: Joel Goldsmith
Wardrobe: Linda Pearl
Special Make-Up: Rob Bottin, Vincent Prentice
Special Effects: Jon Berg
Mechanical Effects: Doug Barnett, Dave Morton; Chris Casady *
Photographic Effects: Peter Kuran, Bill Hedge, Rick Taylor
Creature Design & Animation: Phil Tippett
Animation: Adam Beckett
Art Direction: Bill and Kerry Mellin
Locations: San Marcos, Texas, USA; Seguin, Texas, USA; Wimberley, Texas, USA [all uncredited]

Bradford Dillman (Paul Grogan)
Heather Menzies (Maggie McKeown)
Kevin McCarthy (Dr Robert Hoak)
Keenan Wynn (Jack)
Barbara Steele (Dr Mengers)
Dick Miller (Buck Gardner)
Belinda Balaski (Betsy)
Melody Thomas (Laura [Dickinson])
Bruce Gordon (Colonel Waxman)
Barry Brown (trooper)
Paul Bartel (Dumont)
Shannon Collins (Suzie Grogan)
Shawn Nelson (Whitney)
Richard Deacon (Earl Lyon)
Janie Squire (Barbara)
Roger Richman (David)
Bill Smillie (jailer)
Guich Koock (TV pitchman)
Jack Pauleson (boy in canoe)
Eric Henshaw (father in canoe)

Alternative Titles

Piraija – Finland
Pirana – Italy
Piraña – Spain
Piranhas – France, West Germany
Piraya – Norway, Sweden

Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)

Piranha (1995)
Piranha 3D (2010)

Includes extracts from
The Monster That Challenged the World (1957)
Shark Jaws (1975)

See also
20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
Jaws (1975)
Moby Dick (1956)



  • Delirium no.25 (2020) p.11 – short review (Corman's greatest creatures by Chris Alexander)
  • Delirium no.26 (2021) pp.6-9; 10-11 – illustrated interview with Pino Donaggio (Melodies of madness and by Michael Gingold); illustrated interview with Joe Dante (Scores for teeth and fangs by Michael Gingold)
  • Halls of Horror no.27 p.26 – note
  • Neon September 1998 p.100 – review (by Ian Johnston)
  • Total Film September 1998 p.98 – review (by Dean Evans)


  • 100 Cult Films by Ernest Mathijs & Xavier Mendik pp.157-158 – review by XM [Xavier Mendik]
  • 500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Jennifer Eiss with J.P. Rutter and Steve White p.257 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.343 – illustrated credits, review
  • Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914-2008 by Bruce G. Hallenbeck pp.218 – credits
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.307 – credits
  • Film Review 1979-80 by F. Maurice Speed p.153
  • Fright Night on Channel 9 by James Arena pp.160-161
  • Horror Films of the 1970s by John Kenneth Muir pp.571-574 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.120-121 – credits, review
  • Nuclear Movies: A Filmography by Mick Broderick p.85 – credits, review
  • The Stop-motion Filmography by Neil Pettigrew pp.535-537 – credits, review