Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)

Flying Piranhas! Flying fucking piranhas! How does one mess up a film about flying piranhas?! I would love to view “Piranha II” as a film experience that’s so bad it’s good, but in reality it’s so bad that it’s actually just bad. It’s no wonder James Cameron tries to pretend he had nothing to do with this film and disowns it like a stepchild. It’s a bad movie and one that poorly takes off from the concept the 1978 film laid down. It’s a shame that a movie that completely reworks the concept of killer piranhas in to something even cheesier basically doesn’t have a clue on how to handle the creatures.

So we’re basically forced to watch sixty minutes of non-stop comedy and antics of tourists and beach goers with twenty minutes of filler and ten minutes of piranha carnage thrown in to justify this being a piranha sequel. It’s pretty obvious the special effects crew were budgeted for only so many shots of the fish, so we have nothing but disappointing carnage that barely makes a dent in the viewer’s appetite for grue. Aside from a piranha popping out of a corpses stomach, there’s very little bloodshed to be had, and when the piranha do in fact wreak havoc, there’s nothing but close up shots of the victims clutching the fake fish as badly made blood squirts out of their necks. The entirety of the film is comprised of very bad actors taking part in badly written sub-plots, all of which are barely entertaining let alone watchable.

Some poorly mentally disabled man tries to woo two models on a boat, an elderly woman tries to romance a young man, and the movie just goes on and on without a single likable character in the bunch. Lance Henriksen looks bored out of his skull playing the local sheriff investigating the mysterious death at the prologue of the film, and the mystery of the piranhas tries to come off as something atmospheric and haunting, but in reality it just drags and is absolutely tedious. The writing is so poorly compiled and conceived that the film tries to drag out the fact that the piranha killed the two divers in the opening. It rides on this delusion that their deaths are mysteries when the audience will likely be yelling at the screen “It was piranha! Move on already!”

Why even try to pretend these deaths could be caused by anything other than the fish when we saw it with our own eyes? There’s never a lot of reason why the piranha are on the beach, nor is there reason why they can fly or why they can survive out of water. And when they fly along the windows, it’s pretty funny. Not comically funny but pathetic funny. Even the opening involving two naked divers making out under water makes absolutely no sense and feels as if it was concocted by someone on shrooms. “Piranha II” could be a black comedy gem but as is, the humor and story are so disjointed, it’s tough to figure out where the genres begin or end. My thoughts about “Piranha II” are best summed up by a quote from the one and only Bart Simpson: I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows. Thankfully James Cameron went on to bigger and better things, but who can blame him for trying to pretend this movie never existed?

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