Tuesday 8 May 2012

Piranha Part 2 - The Spawning

Fly Fishing

Piranha Part 2 - The Spawning
 aka Piranha 2: Flying Killers
USA/Italy/Netherlands 1981
Directed by James Cameron
Columbia TriStar Region 2

Wow. This movie is quite bad.

Technically the debut of director James Cameron, who wasn’t allowed to see the rushes or edit the movie himself, this is pretty awful but certainly not as bad as some of Cameron’s later movies.. it’s ten times more fun than Avatar, for example.

The first thing I gotta say about this movie is... why in heck would anybody make a sequel to the Roger Corman produced Piranha (directed by Joe Dante) in the first place? Since Corman’s name is nowhere near this production (although Cameron was, of course, a Roger Corman alumni), you have to question why somebody sitting in a studio in Hollywoodland suddenly decided that, three years later, a sequel was needed to that movie. I mean, c’mon guys, it’s a film about bitey fish!

Secondly... what happened for them to come up with this stupid but brilliantly campy concept. Someone must have been sitting there trying to work out a plot line and scratching their head a bit and said... “Hey, you know what guys? The trouble with these Piranha thingies is that they’re fish so we always gotta have people in the water... which is, you know, a bit limiting in terms of script content. What can we do about that?” Well.. what they did about it was... they gave these particularly iconic modern movie horror fish (which aren’t actually Piranha, by the way, they just look scary) big wings which double for their fins. So they can launch themselves out of the water and fly around ridiculously in the air to bite their victims as they run screaming (and often naked) in terror. And, yes, you can sometimes see the wires.

Okay... so this movie, at least for the first half, is a lot more exploitational than Joe Dante’s work for Corman on the first movie. There’s a few more topless babes running around in this one and there’s much more goriness to the flying fish attacks too. It’s kinda strange but even though this is a lot cheesier than the first (if such a thing is possible) and it’s quite badly made (to call the shot framing and editing pedestrian would be a kindness I think) it’s also, to my jaded eyes anyway, a lot more fun than the first movie. Surprised myself with that one because usually I’m more gaga about the technical details of a movie but, honestly, I had a very stupid but entertaining time with this one.

Midst all the on-screen carnage there are actually a couple of things worth noting about the production. One is that it’s got the wonderful Lance Henrikson as the ex-husband of the main protagonist... looking younger than I think I’ve seen him looking before. He’s always worth a watch so that’s a big plus for the movie.

Secondly, it’s got a score by Stelvio Cipriani... going under the nome de plume of Steve Powder, for some reason. It’s not nearly as good as some of his far superior scores for Italian gialli and Italian police thrillers but it’s interesting to hear him scoring this in a somewhat more sedate fashion than I would normally associate him with. It’s also interesting to note that both of the original Piranha movies had Italian composers creating their scores - this one has Cipriani and the previous one had Pino Donnagio.

And that’s about it I’m afraid. One of my shortest reviews but I’ve really got nothing much to say about this movie past the utter ridiculousness of its mere existence. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this movie to... well anyone, really. I think if I was going to say something positive about this film then I’d have to quote James Cameron himself on the merits of this movie, a film he personally disowns by the way... “It’s the best flying fish movie ever made.” Well, at the moment this blog post goes live I couldn’t really argue with that one, I guess, but I will say that this statement could well be unfounded with the release of Piranha 3DD into our cinemas at the end of the week which, I suspect, features the return of these fabled flying fish to our screens.

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