Piranha (1978)

Restored Roger Corman Jaws rip-off is ready to cause havoc in your home cinema

When Jaws broke box office records in 1975 it led to the release of countless copycat films. While the vast majority of these cash-in flicks were utter trash, 1978's Piranha managed to buck the trend – even Steven Spielberg went on record saying, 'It's the best of the Jaws rip-offs', and convinced Universal not to take out an injunction blocking the film's release.

Produced by B-movie king Roger Corman, Piranha was no doubt intended to be just another Jaws cash-in, only with lots of little fish rather than one big one. But that was before the film ended up in the hands of director Joe (Gremlins) Dante and writer John (City of Hope) Sayles. Under their guidance this $750,000 quickie still owed an enormous debt to Spielberg's blockbuster, but it had its tongue firmly planted in its cheek.

Equal parts spoof and homage, the energetic and inventive Piranha somehow manages to squeeze political commentary, cynical dialogue and in-jokes about old movies in between scenes of rubber fish chowing down on a river full of little kids at Summer camp. Great fun.

Picture: While not setting a new benchmark for Blu-ray encodes, this AVC 1.85:1 1080p presentation is a revelation for Piranha fans who've made do with off-air recordings and eventually MGM's old DVD release. Some speckles and other minor print damage is in evidence (and stock footage, such as that of a plane taking off, looks particularly rough), but overall distributor Second Sight has done a commendable job. Colours are accurate, detailing is acceptable and there's a cinematic sheen of grain throughout.
Picture rating: 3/5

Audio: The Blu-ray's LPCM 2.0 soundtrack is even less exciting than the picture quality, but what did you really expect? The important thing is that the original stereo soundtrack has been cleaned up and sounds about as good as it ever will.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: There's plenty of great stuff on offer here, including a superb, anecdote-laden commentary by director Joe Dante and producer Jon Davison, a 20-minute retrospective featurette and 10 minutes of behind-the-scenes home movie footage with commentary.
Extras rating: 3.5/5

We say: There’s nothing fishy about this impressive hi-def treatment of Joe Dante’s slice of ‘70s shlock cinema

Second Sight, Region B BD, £20 Approx, On sale now