Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1982)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Genres / Traits: Horror Natural Horror Fish

Connections: Piranha

A scuba diving instructor, her biochemist boyfriend, and her police chief ex-husband try to link a series of bizarre deaths to a mutant strain of piranha fish whose lair is a sunken freighter ship off a Caribbean island resort. --IMDb
Tricia O'Neil
Tricia O'Neil
Steve Marachuk
Steve Marachuk
Lance Henriksen
Lance Henriksen
Ricky Paull Goldin
Ricky Paull Goldin
Ted Richert
Ted Richert
Review by Chad
Added: June 10, 2009
Piranha is not a favorite of mine, and nor can it rightfully be called a classic. However, it is a good movie, and it's also the perfect movie to pop in on those lazy summer nights when you want nothing more than to see a little blood, some boobs, and some killer fish. Yes, Piranha is truly one of those "so bad it's great" movies, and the sequel could have been more of the same - in fact, it should have been more of the same or even better given the man behind the camera. This was James Cameron's debut film, and though there are rumors circulating about how much of a hand he actually had in directing it, the fact remains that it's his name that is plastered on the credits. Say what you will about the man, but he has made some damned fine films, and setting him loose on a cheesy horror flick should have been a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, it wasn't... it was far from it, and most directors would have never worked again after releasing something like this.

Previously in the Piranha universe, we discovered that the army was developing some genetically-engineered piranha that would be used in the war over in Vietnam. They got loose, terrorized a few good ol' boys and a summer camp, and were eventually killed off... or were they? Apparently not, as they're now running rampant in the ocean and are all set to make a meal out of a local resort. Oh, and they somehow sprouted wings along the way, so they now not only terrorize the swimmers, but they can also fly around on land and pick off the sunbathers.

Of course, nobody believes diving instructor / marine biologist Anne Kimbrough (Tricia O'Neil) when she brings this fact up, and instead of doing a little research or, you know, taking a look at the now-deceased specimen that she's showing off while comparing it to the numerous dead bodies that are piling up, they decide to fire her. With the help of her ex-husband Steve (Lance Henriksen) and her new boyfriend Tyler (Steve Marachuk), she sets out to kill these blasted fish once and for all.

The problem with this release begins five minutes into the movie, after we've witnessed an underwater sex scene and the subsequent mauling of those two lovers. That was a nice way to open the film, but from there, we're introduced to a number of characters who will go on to serve as nothing more than a body count; however, instead of the brief "This is the lifeguard" and "This woman is on vacation" snippets that one would expect from these fodder characters, we're given full-blown introductions to each of them. Now, I have no problems with character development, but spending so much time on characters who have zero relevance to the film as a whole just seemed like a waste of time, especially considering that said characters were downright dull. The first thirty minutes of the film is devoted not to the piranha and its victims, but instead, to such brilliant pieces of plot as how those old ladies are lusting after the pool boy and the plight of the stuttering chef.

There's also the whole absurdity of the movie that comes into play when you realize that we're supposed to be terrified of flying fish. Being eaten alive after jumping in the local lake? I can buy that. Being devoured by a fish no longer than your arm on dry land? That's just silly, and this premise produces a movie that is hard to take seriously. That would work in a film that wasn't meant to be taken seriously, but there's not the slightest hint of intentional humor or a sly "wink wink" to be found: these guys were serious.

How about the performances turned in by everyone who appeared in front of the camera? When the rubber fish are stealing scene after scene and making the legitimate actors look bad in comparison, I think it might be time to rethink your casting decisions. Lance Henriksen is the only person to come out of this film with a legitimate career in acting outside of television drama and soap operas, but even his appearance here serves to prove that everyone has a bomb somewhere in their filmography. Henriksen is not the first name to pop to mind when thinking of the all-time best actors, but the man can turn in an enjoyable performance even when starring in b-movie schlock... here, he's about as enjoyable as any of the other random extras.

Cameron's heart was in the right place with this movie, I do have to say that much. There's an ample supply of blood, boobs, and - once the movie proper kicks in - beasts, but it's readily apparent that the man simply didn't have the chops to be behind the camera at this point in his career. Even though the premise is as cheesy as it gets, this film could have been entertaining if done properly... unfortunately, everything seems to have went wrong. The result is a film that probably won't wind up on many "worst of" lists, but it's a film that isn't worth the rental fee either. 4/10.
Nirrad #1: Nirrad - added 06/10/2009, 09:01 PM
Man oh man. I will say that this definitely belongs in a "worst of" list. This movie is beyond terrible. 1/10
Flying fish is just ridiculous.
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