Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)

Spread the weird

RATING– ✮✮✮

DIRECTOR– James Cameron

PLOT– A tiny Caribbean nation is surprisingly attacked by genetically engineered flying killer piranhas. A local dive instructor (Tricia O’Neil) and her estranged police chief husband (Lance Henriksen) must fight back before the entire country becomes fish food.

5 REASONS TO WATCH

  1. sticky, wet hirsutes!
  2. fish exhibitionists
  3. jorts… lots of jorts
  4. naughty divers in tiny speedos
  5. braless shoplifters

REVIEW– Despite its name, Piranha II is not a terrible movie. Usually, sequels are not very good… and sequels of bad movies are frequently unwatchable.

This movie isn’t.

Yes, the acting is hit and miss, the actual piranha attacks look more like someone trying to tickle someone else with a plastic fish, and the whole premise of secret government combat fish is quite silly (…after a scene where a crowd of obnoxious tourists gathers at a beach party to massacre spawning fish, I actually found myself rooting for the piranha). But on the whole, this is a pretty decent entry into the scary-wet-animal/Jaws rip-off genre.

Production values are pretty high for an Italian b-movie. It’s got an original score. The action takes place on actual boats. The underwater scenes weren’t filmed in a tank. So it doesn’t feel like a cheap movie.

We can probably thank Mr. Jim Cameron for that.

However, as I mentioned earlier, there are moments of melodramatic acting that drag the whole thing down. They are quite distracting and hard to overlook. So, I suppose it’s up to you to decide if a story about CIA winged aquatic killers is worth watching.

For me, it’s just cheesy enough without being boring to provide 1 1/2 hours of enjoyment.

FAULTY FACTS– This is James Cameron’s first movie. You know… the “King of the world!”, the king of Titanic/Aliens/Terminator/Avatar fame, James Cameron… that James Cameron. Yes, this is where he started. According to Cameron, the producers of Piranha II came to his set on Galaxy of Terror where he was directing the 2nd unit:

I had to do a scene where a severed arm is consumed by worms or maggots, and we get all ready to do it and it’s like ‘OK, cue the worms.’ They just didn’t do anything. They were unmotivated. And so I’m desperate, it’s my first show as a director and I’m blowing it.

So Cameron came up with an ingenious solution: he hid a piece of electrical cable around the set, connected it to the prop arm, and sent a small electrical current through it.

These producers come walking up behind me to watch me work, and I am sitting there and I go, ‘OK, roll camera, and, action.’ And the worms come to life and they’re crawling around. And I say, ‘OK, that’s good, and cut.’ And they stop. And [the producers] are very impressed by this, you know? They scale it up in their mind. ‘If he can do that with worms, what can he do with actors?’

The rest is blockbuster movie-making history!

These worms launched a Hollywood icon’s career.