Killer Fish (1979)

4.0 out of 5

Completely hindered by a supporting cast of piranhas, this is not an Italian Jaws ripoff but a reasonably suspenseful crime drama set off the Brazilian coast with beautiful women, Marisa Berenson, Margaux Hemingway, Karen Black, scenic locations, DeAngelis Brothers disco, and a solid, 11-minute robbery sequence. But, undeniably, it is director Antonio Margheriti’s powerhouse display of miniatures that steals the show.

Lee Majors, and his one expressive eyebrow, is the only real man in South America to match ridiculous bravery diving into piranha-infested waters to salvage stolen jewels and rescue people with a wardrobe of tight aqua pants and open dress shirts.

Co-star Black knows how to throw some impressive Actor’s Studio fits of hysteria, dealing with the piranhas, and the piranhas, themselves, receive their own DeAngelis Brothers theme song. Hands down, the acting prize goes to Roy Brocksmith, as Berenson’s obnoxious, morbidly bulbous photographer. The minute the effeminate Brocksmith lisps a few words of smug blasphemy, director Margheriti reserves the most gruesome and lengthy death for him.

The movie actually features better piranha attack footage than Joe Dante’s Piranha, which sucked anyway.

Exciting miniatures and miniature photography service entire exploding power companies, dams, trainyards, boats, with the combination of showering water, fire, and slow-motion calamity truly uplifting. The movie’s dreadful title was obviously producer Alex Ponti’s idea of box office gold.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics