Piranha II: The Spawning AKA Piranha II: Flying Killers (1982)

Posted: 24/01/2023 in Trash movies
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

With the Avatar: The Way of Water in the news for hitting two billion dollars (and on the verge of unseating Avengers: Infinity War as the 5th highest grossing movie of all time) I think its about time we go all the way back to the beginning of James Cameron‘s illustrious directing career and no I’m not talking about the Terminator(1984).

You see Cameron originally began his career as a poster illustrator and the miniature model builder for non other than B-movie legend Roger Corman. He graduated to being an art director for Corman‘s probably most expensive movie at a time (still pretty modest by regular standards) Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) and more notably did special effects for John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981).

He continued working for Corman on movies like Galaxy of Terror but his first opportunity do direct opened up when the director for Piranha (another Corman production) sequel Piranha II: The Spawning (love the title) left the production after clashing with the producer Ovidio Assonitis. Cameron would then be upgraded from special effect director to regular director and the rest is history. Well, not quite yet- we’ll get back to you on that…

Cameron’s sketch via Icollector.com

So, the movie starts with we kid you not- an underwater sex scene. Young couple decided that it would be a good idea to do it close to a sunken US ship. As you can presume- it doesn’t end well. They get attacked by the mysterious creatures and soon there’s blood in the water.

Then we cut back to a black man called Gabbi and his son fishing using dynamite. Steve, the police officer catches them but let’s them go with a warning.

Diving instructor Anne‘s student is one of the victims, but her estranged husband Steve (Lance Henricksen) who’s a police officer refuses to let her see the body. So, naturally she decides to ignore him and break into a morgue? That’s not rational thinking, quite the opposite. Tyler Sherman, tourist who can’t stop hitting on her also tags along.

They actually manage to enter the morgue but the nurse catches them and throws them out. Unfortunately she not knowingly seals her own fate- turns out one of the piranhas was hiding inside the body!? I mean, who’s really prepared for that. It bursts from the corpse like a damn Alien and the nurse is toast.

I love how the piranha just escapes trough the window when it’s done!

Anne on the other side gets a bit more lucky. She finally accepts Tyler’s advances and has a one night stand with him. Unfortunately her estranged husband shows up, turns out she lost her credit card in the morgue/ scene of the crime.

She tries to warn him about her suspicions but he is too angry (with her having another man in her bed) to really listen.

Anne desperately tries to cancel all the diving lessons but that only gets her fired. Tyler finally confesses that he isn’t here just as tourist, he is actually a biochemist who was on the team that developed a genetically modified piranhas, capable of flying (although actual flying fish glide- not fly like the birds but that’s B-movie logic for you). He suspected the cylinder of the fish they lost is the reason for the killings and he is proven right.

Gabby’s son ends up being the victim of the piranhas too and he decides that the only way to stop them is with dynamite. Anne tries to dissuade him but there’s no changing his mind.

To make things worse the manager Raul insist annual fish fry must go on- with disastrous results.

Anne and Tyler decide that the only way to end this is of course- take all that Gabby’s dynamite (Gabby also unfortunately met his son’s fate) and blow up the ship wreckage and all the piranhas with it.

In the meantime Steve (in a police helicopter) keeps searching for their son with the who in a completely unrelated and unnecessary plot point ends up stranded with a young, hot daughter of a rich British boat owner Dumont. I mean he probably got a better deal than most of the folks in this movie.

Anne and Tyler manage to dive to the wreckage and plant the device but they end up attacked by piranhas and end u stuck in the boat with a timer on a bomb still running.Tyler doesn’t make it out and ends up eaten alive but Anne manages to reach the surface just in time. There she is helped by Steve who found the young couple so I guess- family reunited (if only Tyler didn’t have to die for that to happen)!

Verdict: this movie suffers (for better or worse) from the usual 80’s syndrome, so expect lots of crude sexual jokes, idiotic characters and nonsensical plot points that go absolutely nowhere. On the other hand they are moments where Cameron’s potential shines through, the scenes of underwater photography are masterfully done and it’s pretty incredible that we can still see some of those elements in his movies some 40 years later.

Virtually Identical!

Epilogue: After an apparent food poising in Rome and struck with a high fever, Cameron had a vivid nightmare about a chrome skeleton burning in a fire – the rest is history.

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