Starring: Lance Henriksen, Anne Kimbrough, Steve Marachuk, Carole Davis, Ricky Paull Goldin
Written by: Ovidio G. Assonitis (screenplay) (as H.A Milton), James Cameron (screenplay)
Directed by: James Cameron, Ovidio G. Assonitis (Uncredited)
Original Year of Release: 1981
Distributed by: Shout! Factory
Run Time: 1hr, 24 minutes
Long did I see Piranha II: The Spawning on the shelf in the video store where I worked (back in the mid-nineties). Yes, it fascinated me that James Cameron, the director of Terminator (1984) and The Abyss (1989), had done the follow up to Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978). Obviously both films were riding the nature attacks wave that Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) had ushered in just a few years earlier, but nonetheless, this was a sequel and one that showcased flying Piranha to boot. Jump to more recent years and I realized that I had seen the remake Piranha 3D (2010) and its sequel Piranha 3DD (2012), yet never had I watched Cameron’s film. When my favorite distributor of Horror and B-movies, Shout! Factory, announced a 2K restoration Blu-ray release, I was in. Really in. However, my own personal hype did not live up to what I wanted.
Do not let that discourage you. James Cameron himself said, "I believe 'The Spawning' was the finest flying piranha movie ever made.” He also said that it gets better halfway through when seen at the drive-in with a six pack of beer. What more could you want from the self-proclaimed "King of the World" about his directorial debut? Yet, it’s not really his directorial debut. There are all kinds of stories about what happened, that Cameron was fired, that Ovidio G. Assonitis took over. Yet for all those that have a stake in Piranha II: The Spawning it is probably best to leave Cameron's name on the movie. This is where my own personal hype for the film fell flat. Once I learned this, the chance to see Cameron’s earlier work and what he evolved from was gone because the film has a lot of his latter benchmarks- a strong female lead, Tricia O'Neil, underwater photography, science/ technology gone wrong, and a staple actor of Cameron's, Lance Henriksen.
Piranha II: The Spawning is your stereotypical horror film from the late seventies/ early eighties. Setting it in the Caribbean Islands allows us to have an even greater excuse to have scantily clad women on screen, all the time. In fact, you can practically set your watch for who will get topless and thereafter how soon they will die.
We have the concerned scientist, Tricia O’Neil, the righteous police officer, Lance Henriksen, and the hotel manager, Ted Richert, who will not head their advice. People are dying and no one will listen to O’Neil’s Anne, who keeps saying that something is terrorizing the divers at the local resort. Of course, she could just take off and save her own neck, but her estranged husband, Henriksen, is the police chief who believes that there is a human murderer on the loose, and her son, Ricky Paull Goldin, is off trying to get laid the day everything goes to hell. Not completely the plot to Jaws, but you can see where they change it enough to say it's different.
Why watch Piranha II: The Spawning then? Well for one, it really is the finest flying piranha movie ever made. To see the piranha leap from the water and attack the resort is worth it. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy checking off their own horror scorecard with who will die, who will live, and who will get naked? These horror troupes are what make terrifically bad movies enjoyable.
Again, Shout! Factory has issued a stellar 2K restoration of the film that no studio in its right mind would ever do. Why does Shout! Factory do it then? Because they know there is an audience for these films. An audience that loves to celebrate the cliches, relish in the mundane acting, and who doesn't want to see the directorial debut from the man who brought us Terminator and Aliens (1986)? Thank you, Shout! Factory, keep up the great work!
Order Piranha II: The Spawning HERE from Shout! Factory.
- NEW 2K Scan From The Original Camera Negative
- NEW Interview With Actor Ricky Paull Goldin
- NEW Interview With Special Effects Artist Brian Wade
- Theatrical Trailer