Piranha (1978): Lenticular DVD Review

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Exploitation original gets new DVD makeover

On August 3, Shout! Factory released PIRANHA in a new DVD edition, as well as a Blu-Ray disc (its debut in the latter format), to tie in with the theatrical release of the 3D remake. Both releases feature 1.85 anamorphic widescreen transfers and a bundle of special features from the previous DVD “Special Edition” of  1999.

New to this release is “The Making of PIRANHA” featurette. Interviews with many of the principle crew and some cast members (including Roger Corman, director Joe Dante, actors Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski, effects experts Chris Walas and Phil Tippett, and others) provide lots of fun facts, amusing stories, and some insights into late-‘70s low-budget filmmaking at its grittiest. For instance, you’ll never guess why the US swim team did so poorly at the 1978 Summer Olympics until you watch this featurette.

Also new to this release are Radio and TV Spots, which really are something of a time portal into how movies were promoted in the not too-distant past. The film’s theatrical trailer now has an optional commentary track with producer Jon Davison, thanks to Trailers from Hell.

Scenes added to the Network Television Version have been included separately, although the option to watch them as part of the feature would have been more interesting. Finally, a Behind-the-Scenes Stills Gallery has been added, with material taken from Phil Tippett’s personal collection. There are trailers for the other releases in Shout! Factory’s Roger Corman’s Cult Classics collection, too.

Holdovers from the previous DVD release include feature-length audio commentary by Dante and Davison, Behind-the-Scenes Footage (with audio commentary), Bloopers and Outtakes, and a Stills Gallery that features posters from the international releases of the film.

A hapless victim
A hapless victim

The packing features a 3D lenticular slipcase that’s actually quite entertaining. The DVD case features a reversible inner cover, and there’s a nice booklet with photos and info on the film (notes provided by Michael Felsher), as well as a brief introduction by Roger Corman. The widescreen transfer is crisp and clean, with great sound quality. Some of the bonus materials are a little shabby, and the network TV scenes could have been cleaned up better. Otherwise, a rather fancy presentation for a cheap knock-off that no one ever expected to still be around in any form over thirty years after its release – and we‘re so thankful it is.

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