Jaws is the original “stay the hell out of the water” summer flick, but you really can’t count the Piranha series out in terms of cautionary tales about never going swimming again. Piranhas may be much smaller than great whites, but they’re fast, they travel in packs, they have tremendous teeth, and they love human flesh. So what if they’re not actually found in the wild in the U.S.? There are plenty of (generally implausible) reasons why you might encounter some piranhas while, say, skinny dipping in your local lake—read on to find out what they are!
A programming note: we’ll be discussing the five movies that are part of the Piranha series that dates back to 1978, but not the other non-franchise movies that happen to have confusingly similar titles. Those include the Amazon-set Piranha (1972); Russian action flick Piranha (2006); Italian drama Piranhas (2019), which uses the title as a metaphor rather than a literal reference; and of course the Asylum’s mockbuster Mega Piranha (2009) and Jim Wynorski’s made-for-Syfy Piranhaconda (2012).