Piranha is a 1978 comedy horror film about a swarm of killer piranha. It was directed by Joe Dante and starred Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn and Dick Miller. Produced by Roger Corman, Piranha is a parody of the 1975 film Jaws, which had been a major success for distributor Universal Studios and director Steven Spielberg, and inspired a series of similarly themed B movies such as Grizzly, Tintorera, Tentacles, Orca, Up from the Depths and Great White. Piranha's similarity to Jaws was as such that Universal attempted to halt the film's distribution. However, Spielberg saw the film in advance and liked it. Piranha was followed by a sequel, Piranha II: The Spawning, in 1981, and two remakes, one in 1995, and another that is forthcoming. The film was shot at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas. Screenwriter John Sayles used the proceeds to fund his own films.
Insurance investigator Maggie McKeown is dispatched to find the two missing teenage hikers near Lost River Lake. She hires surly backwoods drunkard Paul Grogan to serve as her guide. Searching the area, they find an abandoned military facility. The only resident is Dr. Robert Hoak, former head of a top-secret project to breed cold-water piranha for use in the Vietnam War. The project was closed down years ago, but Hoak has continued raising the deadly strain of the flesh-eating fish.
While sneaking around the military camp's main building, Maggie and Paul accidentally release the piranha into a local river, which leads to the lake where a childrens summer camp and a newly opened tourist resort will provide plenty of fish food for the hungry predators. Maggie and Paul race to warn the locals, but their pleas fall on skeptical ears, such as those of resort owner Buck Gardner — until the piranha reach the swimmers. After the attack, Paul and Maggie come up with a plan, to go to the sewage plant on the river, and release it into the river. Paul explains that it will kill anything. Once there, Paul ties a rope around him and dives into the river, as the station is flooded. Inside he releases the sewage into the river, however, he is shortly attacked by the piranhas. Maggie then starts the boat and it speeds off dragging Paul out of the facility and away from the piranha. Once back on land Paul is now being loaded onto a stretcher with Maggie and his daughter by his side. At the end of the movie a news reporter is talking to government scientist about the incident (who previously mentioned to Maggie that she used to work with Dr. Hoak), once asked on whether there's any need to worry the scientist smiles at the audience and replies that there is nothing to worry about. The movie ends with a view of the sea, and the sounds that the piranha made (before they attacked anyone) being heard, implying that some survived being poisoned by the sewage.
Dimension Films had been developing the remake of the 1978 Joe Dante film Piranha for over a year. It intended to have Chuck Russell, who previously reworked the 1988 version of The Blob, direct the film before taking on Alexandre Aja. Aja will rewrite a previous script from Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger. Aja explains, "My goal is not to remake Piranha, but to create a completely new adventure paying homage to all the creature films [...] I am very proud to follow the path of Joe Dante and James Cameron in the Piranha franchise and look forward to working with Greg Levasseur to write, produce, and direct such a fun and gory thrill ride."