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Monday, April 30, 2018

Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)




The original Piranha is a great flick with innovative special effects work and some stars that I always enjoy seeing on screen! Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Kevin McCarthy, and Keenan Wynn all show up and are directed by the great Joe Dante. This sequel had a lot to live up to. Well it does have Lance Henriksen and was directed by James Cameron, so it probably has to be good. Right?

Things kick off with a couple having “relations” underwater in a wrecked ship while wearing scuba gear and not much else! Be prepared female nudity is going to be a common theme in this one. Sadly, for them they happen to be in the home of a bunch of bioengineered saltwater Piranha who quickly make them supper. The action then moves to the local nearby island resort where our main characters, dive instructor Anne and her ex-husband police chief Steve have a difficult relationship. Or I think that is what we are supposed to think. They also have a son named Chris that crews on a yacht and fishes on the beach. So yeah… back to the fish.

Anne takes a dive class to the wreck we saw in the opening and sure enough one of her students ends up on the menu. This leads to a mysterious guy showing up to comfort her since she feels bad about it. Of course, he turns out to be a science guy that may or may not be a decent dude. There are also a couple of ladies who hustle people out of money, food, and other stuff while they sail around. They also seem to be allergic to wearing their tops which refers back to that common theme I mentioned earlier. In classic “Jaws” fashion the jerk boss refuses to close the beach and the piranha eventually show up to eat a bunch of helpless victims. This time staying out of the water doesn’t help because they can fly! Yes, the piranha come flying out of the water to eat people.

This isn’t a good movie. It has terrible pacing issues with long stretches of the movie lacking any action. The subplot of the ladies hustling people is complete filler and does nothing to move the plot along. There is also another couple characters of a dentist and his new lady friend that has no payoff at all. Unlike the ladies they don’t even end up piranha chow. Again, it seems to exist only to eat up some time. The dialogue is awkward and silly. There are times that it seems the cast is struggling to spit it all out. This isn’t helped by the bad acting that most of the cast brings to the screen. Of course, the highlight is Henriksen who as always is great.

Good creatures could have saved this one...
I also have to mention that the special effects work is subpar. Both the original and the sequel had very low budgets so there isn’t any excuse for this one to fail while the first outing was great. Here the fish look like rubber puppets on strings. You can see the strings constantly which gets annoying. The attacks boil down to rubber fish bumping into their victims with some red dye dumped into the water for “blood”. The attacks on the land are even sillier with the actors clearly holding the fish to their necks, because that is pretty much the only place they attack.

The only highlight for me is how goofy the whole idea and execution of Piranha II: The Spawning is. I will admit that there is a certain charm to the ineptitude of the proceedings. If you like awful movies that you can rip on, then this might amuse you. That is about all that it has going for it. But hey that is better than nothing I suppose.


© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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