Stars: Mila Kunis, William Katt
Directed By: Scott P. Levy
This is a Roger Corman remake of the 1978 version of Piranha, which itself was remade in 2010 with Piranha 3D.
When i first saw this film I did for a long time believe this to be the 'original version' of the film not knowing that this was indeed a remake of an even older movie. Strange as I'd also Piranha 2 before the 70's version and this thinking that, that was a sequel to this one!
I was however like 12 or 13 at the time and watching these on late night UK TV cable channels like sci-fi or bravo.
So i had recently gone back and watched the actual original version now. What I did notice and was actually confirmed through some further research is that this includes scenes from the original film for attacks and showing the piranha swimming around.
It follows basically the same story too, except in this instance I actually think the 1995 version is better in a lot of ways to the 78 version.
Namely actors and acting help this one run just a little smoother than the older one, quite possibly as with a lot of things this might just be because I seen this one first. This film also stars a young Mila Kunis in the role of the young daughter of the protagonist.
If you've read the original you'll know that two teens (Barbara and David in the remake) go to a disused military facility and thinking the big pool is just a cool place to have dip enter and get eaten by the ravenous modified fish. I mean even if it disused wouldn't you be scared of the stinky stagnant water that might hold untold chemical waste in it?
Well in this remake the same happens (with lots of 90's nudity) except instead of a debtor looking for them the teen girls uncle believing they she's run away, hires a private investigator to find her. Also played by female actor (Alexendra Paul) playing Maggie McNamara, yes that's the same first name of the 70's character too a nice touch there.
She goes snooping around and eventually stumbles upon Paul Grogan (exactly the same name as the 70's version) played by reasonably well known actor William Katt. They both find their way to the base and like the 70's version Maggie goes to drain the pool. A change here though as she's attacked by and fights off a female scientist this time, one Dr Leticia Baines (Darleen Carr) unfortunately too late once again and the killer fish are flushed out into a nearby river. Pretty much the same deaths happen on the river too.
Exactly the same thing happens they find bones at the bottom of the tank, Baines steals their vehicle but crashes due to passing out and they go back to Paul's. Later on Baines wakes up and tells them what idiots they've been releasing the deadly creations into the wild. Fearful for his daughter (Susie) this film cuts out a lot of chaff and Paul goes straight to the place to try and get the camp shut down.
They don't believe him and the owner, Randolph gets them arrested for causing commotion.
Like the original they escape custody and then go to warn people, however the piranha have already made their way to the camp and start attacking.
Susie (Kunis) sets out on a raft to save her friends she saves one but the other falls in and is killed by the fish. Maggie and Paul make it to the camp and Paul saves his daughter and some more kids. Randolph actually see's the carnage now and very sorrowful he didn't heed the warning.
Paul now knowing that Susie is safe takes him and Maggie up river to where he used to work, once again a factory that used to have toxic chemicals stored in it. As with the original Paul has to swim down to a submerged office to attempt to release these toxins into the water supply.
He asks Maggie to count to 200 and pull him back up as he goes diving down, Paul is attacked by the piranha as he's attempting to release the poison, he does manage it but the movie doesn't end there and I won't spoil anymore.
This version does however take a little more of a darker turn at the ending than the original does, so what do I think of it?
On recent reviewing of it , appreciate a lot of the military chaff cut from the original to this version while still keeping most of the story elements almost exactly the same, the 89 minutes of this version to the 70's 95 minutes feels more trimmed for the better too. with better acting overall too, the practical effects though are actually slightly worse!!!
Ass mentioned a few of the same piranha attacking scenes are pulled right from the original version, though Roger did have input on this version too. We have one more version to check out in the future before moving to sequels (of which this one did not receive a piranha 2).
THN awards Piranha 1995 a low 3 out of 5 stars with a recommendation to watch both this and the original and decide for yourself which is best!