Face it, it is hard to screw up a movie about flying fish that devour people, right? Well, producer / director Ovidio Assonitis proves that rule here with the chunkily titled Piranha Part Two - The Spawning. I'm easy when it comes to Creature Features, and this one is quite pleasing as a night with fangs rending flesh! While the film will get stuck in the pop culture position of being "that movie James Cameron was fired from" the story on both that and the film itself are more interesting. You can read up on the soggy saga of a young director, a bottom line oriented Italian producer and late night B&E editing sessions at this link from Entertainment Weekly.
So what do we have here? Well, I'd say it is a gory nature running berserk flick that would test the limits of Guy N. Smith's prose to put across flying piranha that eat vacationing morons and burst out of their bodies!
I like that already.
Anne Kimbrough (Tricia O'Neil, who looks like Adrienne Barbeau minus a few distinctive features) is a marine biologist working for the weekends as a diving instructor at Club Elysium. When one of her students gets chomped up by some fish that make a sound like a vacuum cleaner on speed she is in hot water with the local Police Chief-which also happens to be her slightly estranged husband Steve. Toss in a rogue biologist that may have some answers about the flying super piranha and you have a plot. Stir in a kids of the leads romantic subplot that feels like tossing The Blue Lagoon in to the mix and a few little storylines for horny older ladies on the prowl and some delightfully hot boaters that are there for nudity provisions and nerd taunting. Boy, we sure did love nerd taunting in the 80s!
The finale gets good and gooey and fish fly and blood sprays all over the screen. I also learned that Lance Henrikson, no matter what his age in a film, is always awesome and his presence as a cranky or evil guy is always welcome on my screen. There is an excellent moment when he decides to jump in to the water and save his son before everything explodes around them. Problem--he is flying a helicopter which he abandons (yikes) and then said 'copter crashes in to the sea and randomly explodes!! Only Lance could pull off the face he needed to have while jumping out of that door...
Overall this is a lot of fun and Piranha Part 2 - The Spawning is a tiny gold mine for European Trash Cinema fans as well. Assonitis brings a lot of Italian shock to the proceedings and not only do we have special effects by Giannetto AND Gino De Rossi but shock master Maurizio Trani is also on hand! The Piranha themselves are a treat, flying about on wires and somehow losing the sticks from the original film-but the havoc the wreak is even better. Bloody squirting wounds that would be equally impressive if they were happening in a House By The Cemetery instead of a resort vacation spot abound. This alone makes it worth a watch in my opinion! To up the Eurotrash quotient there is a nifty score by Stelvio Cipriani that goes from overblown violins and violence and features an excellent bit of music and editing magic when a trip in to an old wrecked boat underwater is mixed between a distorted divers ear perspective and gets punched up with a piercing strings section for the chomping predators.
It's gory...it's silly and it features one of my favorite nature bites back moments near the big slaughter sequence. Witness as a bunch of oafish characters and goofy extras march towards the sea saying WE WANT FISH...WE WANT FISH and then are promptly attacked, chomped, devoured and invaded by the creatures they were looking to eat. If it doesn't bring a smile to your face, I don't know what will.