Retro-review: New on BluRay from the Shout Factory; help me out and pick it up here on Amazon!
PIRANHA PART TWO: THE SPAWNING (1981)
aka PIRANHA II: FLYING KILLERS, THE SPAWNING
Directed by James Cameron, Ovidio G. Assonitis, Miller Drake
Written by James Cameron, Ovidio G. Assonitis, Charles H. Eglee
Starring Tricia O’Neil, Steve Marachuk, Lance Henriksen, Ricky Paull Goldin, Ted Richert, Leslie Graves, Connie Lynn Hadden , Carole Davis, Arnie Ross, Tracey Berg, Albert Sanders, Anne Pollack, Hildy Magnasun, Phil Colby, Lee Krug, Sally Ricca, Ward White, Ancile Gloudon, Paul Drummond, Dorothy Cunningham, Aston S. Young, Paul Issa, Gaetano Del Grande, Jim Pair, Captain Kidd Brewer Jr., Jan Eisner Mannon, Myra Weisler, Johnny Ralston, Carolyn De Fonseca, Ted Rusoff
Well, everyone’s gotta have a first time and this is James Cameron’s first directorial experience. And it’s not a good one. Cameron attests that he didn’t direct the entire film and that he was fired when either producer Ovidio G. Assonitis decided he was dissatisfied with Comeron’s work OR Cameron was fired when he decided to break into the editing room and edit his own version of the film. Because the film was contractually obligated to have an American director, Assonitis left Cameron’s name on the film. PIRANHA 2: THE SPAWNING aka FLYING KILLERS is another knockoff that littered theaters and drive-ins in the wake of mega-hit JAWS, but there are some bits and pieces that venture into “so-bad-it’s-good” territory.
Though we don’t find out until half the movie is over with, a pod of genetically enhanced piranha eggs were accidentally dropped in the ocean near a Caribbean resort. While a SCUBA instructor (Tricia O’Neil) and her estranged husband and local beach patrolman (Lance Henriksen) begin finding bodies bobbing all over the resort and in the waters. When the hotel manager refuses to close the beach, genetically enhanced piranhas that can fly go on the attack and make mincemeat of everyone on the beach. Many subplots are doled out, mostly involving loose relationships between the horny hotel guests and employees, but this only serves as more chum for the piranha to gnaw upon.
PIRANHA PART TWO: THE SPAWNING plays like an Italian film because that is exactly what it is. Produced by schlockster Assonitis, the bad dubbing, relentless nudity, bad acting, and loose morals all feel more European in nature than your typical American movie of the time. There are bits and pieces of interest such as an homage to Tobe Hooper’s TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE opening when someone photographs a body chomped on by the piranha in a morgue and the way the fish are filmed is cut effectively, making the little critters look more like bats than flying fish. The look of the fish is actually pretty good and Cameron attests that he helped with their design as well. But that doesn’t cover up the ultra-campy and schlocky nature of it all.
With a script that lifts directly from JAWS, a score that practically does the same and a non-ending that solves next to nothing, the film does very little in terms of narrative surprises. Sure it’s got shapely women and some nice gore in the latter half hour, and of course, Lance Henricksen offers up his own style of menacing charm throughout, but that doesn’t save this frightful fish tale from stinking up the place. This one is for Cameron Completists and lovers of bad cinema only.
Special edition features include; a new 2K scan from the original camera negative, a new interview with actor Ricky Paull Goldin, a new interview with special effects artist Brian Wade, and a theatrical trailer.
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