Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981)

piranha2_2Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981)
AKA Piranha II: Flying Killers, The Spawning

Starring Tricia O’Neil, Steve Marachuk, Lance Henriksen, Ricky Paull Goldin, Ted Richert, Leslie Graves, Carole Davis, Connie Lynn Hadden, Arnie Ross, Tracey Berg, Albert Sanders

Directed by James Cameron

Expectations: Very low.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Piranha Part Two: The Spawning was the feature directorial debut of James Cameron, so if nothing else it’s worth a look for that alone. But fans of the famous director of sci-fi action classics will find little that resembles anything of the Cameron style in Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. According to that grand Internet resource Wikipedia, Cameron was only in charge of the production for a few weeks before the producer fired him and took over, editing whatever footage Cameron had shot into the final release of the film. Makes sense, but for discussion let’s just assume that Cameron is the director largely responsible for the shooting.

While Piranha Part Two: The Spawning is a sequel to the original Piranha film, it’s pretty much a sequel in name alone. There is some mention of the previous film’s events, and in a way the sequel does go down the path alluded to in the stinger that ends Piranha, but these are thin connections at best. At the same time, the surface of the story is somewhat similar in overall structure, so you could almost argue that this sequel is also something of a complete rehash. But that’s probably being too reductive, as it makes this film sound like it shares a kindred spirit to the original film, which is totally untrue.

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Piranha (1978)

piranha_1Starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies-Urich, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Belinda Balaski, Melody Thomas Scott, Bruce Gordon, Barry Brown, Paul Bartel, Shannon Collins

Directed by Joe Dante

Expectations: High.

On the general scale:
threestar

On the B-movie scale:
fourstar


Piranha is exactly the type of movie that I love. It’s equal parts genuine horror and outlandish comedy, with a premise so over-the-top and ridiculous that no one could possibly believe it as a plausible story. But then how did stories of piranhas in local waterways filter down to the schoolyard playgrounds of my youth? Piranha is a film that captures your imagination and runs wild. Its pace is quick, rarely coming up for air. The film’s villains may never be visible for more than a fleeting few seconds, but they are ever-present in the film’s atmosphere.

Piranha opens like hundreds of other horror films: a young couple is out at night in the woods looking for a good place to be alone together. These particular kids ignore the “No Trespassing” signs on the chain-link fences they sneak through in their quest. And of course, when they find a pool of water they decide that skinny dipping is the only course of action. What they never considered was that this secluded, abandoned Army installation wasn’t quite so completely abandoned. Shoulda watched more horror movies, guys.

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Piranha 3DD (2012)

Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden, Adrian Martinez, Paul James Jordan, Meagan Tandy, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Scheer, Gary Busey, Clu Gulager

Directed by John Gulager

Expectations: High. I’ve been very excited to see this, hoping for a sequel that recaptures the horror/comedy of the 2010 remake.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Long story short: This movie contains none of the guilty fun of the original. It’s not that Piranha 3DD is pure shit, it’s more that it’s a shameless cash-in, it’s obvious and it squanders an opportunity to deliver another horribly debaucherous, gory good time. I thought the 2010 remake, Piranha 3D, was hopelessly shitty, but it was made with such style and filled with such inventive gore that I couldn’t help but become enamored with it. It seriously had no business being as funny and gore-tastic as it was. So when I heard there was a sequel looming, I instantly become excited and hoped it could live up to its predecessor. Maybe if previous director Alexandre Aja was still around, but this time we get John Gulager, the man who brought the world the Feast trilogy, of which I have seen none (and based on the strength of this one, I won’t be changing that anytime soon).

Piranha 3DD opens with a scene that holds no significance or bearing on the tale that I can remember. It features Gary Busey and his buddy hunting around a lake in the dark of night for their cow. How or why their cow is in the lake we will never know, but when they do find said cow, it’s dead, rather gassy, and it involuntarily shoots a couple of piranha eggs out its ass. Oh, if only I had paid for the 3D! While fish eggs from a dead cow’s ass might whet your cinematic appetite, don’t be fooled! The film actually focuses on a water park recently taken over by a money-hungry dude who hires strippers for lifeguards and designates one of the pools as an “Adult Pool,” complete with condom dispensers poolside and a “Cooch Cam.”

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