Piranha II: The Spawning (1981) reviews and overview

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‘They bred the ultimate killing machine… now you’re not safe OUT of the water!’

Piranha II: The Spawning, also known as simply The Spawning and Piranha II: Flying Killers, is a 1981 horror feature film, the sequel to the 1978 cult film Piranha, and the directorial debut of James Cameron (The Terminator, Aliens, Avatar).

The original director of Piranha II was Miller Drake. Drake was yet another Roger Corman graduate who had laboured alongside Joe Dante in the New World trailer department — and had essayed the role of “First Mutant” in Dante’s directorial debut, Hollywood Boulevard — before becoming Corman’s de facto head of post-production. Executive producer, Ovidio G. Assonitis (Beyond the Door, Tentacles) removed Drake from the movie and decided to replace him with James Cameron.

Canadian James Cameron was originally hired as the special effects director (he also apparently re-wrote the screenplay under the pseudonym H.A. Milton). After the first week of shooting, the set harmony was disturbed by some discussions about the work between the director and the producers (the executive producer, Ovidio G. Assonitis, asked to verify the day-to-day activities, arguing with most of Cameron’s choices), so while Cameron was only responsible for the shooting, most of the decisions were under Assonitis’ authority.

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Plot:

Off the coast of a Caribbean island, a young couple flee the hotel to have sex in the sea. But they swim into a sunken wreck which is also a piranha lair and they are both killed and eaten by the unseen predators.

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The next day, a group of tourists, including Tyler Sherman, are taking the diving courses provided by Anne Kimbrough, an employee of the Hotel Elysium. One of her divers swims into the wreck, which she has strictly forbidden to her divers.

Leaving Tyler to take over and lead the others to the surface, she discovers almost immediately that her ‘missing’ student has swum into the wreck and been killed there when his badly chewed up body is found…

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

On July 31, 2018, Scream Factory released Piranha II: The Spawning on Blu-ray as a Collector’s Edition with the following special features:

2K scan from the original camera negative
Interview with actor Ricky Paull Goldin
Interview with special effects artist Brian Wade
Theatrical Trailer

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Of course, Assonitis wasn’t going to let an untried 27-year-old actually make a movie; he kept a pretty firm grip on the film’s reigns from behind the scenes, and didn’t let Cameron anywhere near the editing room. Which is good, because it means that we can maintain that this isn’t really a James Cameron film, but just sort of a James Cameron exercise.” Antagony & Ecstasy

“There’s a sleaziness that creeps in from time to time, reportedly at the insistence of producer/director Assonitis […] The gore is abundant but repetitive, with every attack looking and feeling the same: piranhas attack, there is a frenzy of activity and lots of cutting, leaving behind a chewed-up hunk of meat.” Patrick Bromley, Daily Dead

Piranha II: Flying Killers & Silent Rage double bill Quad

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Cast and characters:

Tricia O’Neil – Anne Kimbrough
Steve Marachuk – Tyler Sherman
Lance Henriksen – Steve Kimbrough
Ricky Paull Goldin – Chris Kimbrough
Ted Richert – Raoul, Hotel Manager
Leslie Graves – Allison Dumont
Ancil Gloudon – Gabby
Carole Davis – Jai
Connie Lynn Hadden – Loretta
Captain Kidd Brewer Jr. – Lou
Jan Eisner Mannon – Lisa
Arnie Ross – Mal the Cook
Tracy Berg – Beverly
Albert Sanders – Leo Bell, D.D.S.
Anne Pollack – Mrs Wilson
Lee Krug – Ron ‘Ronny’, the Lifeguard
Sally Ricca – Cindy
Dorothy Cunningham – Nurse April
Phil Mullins – Trip Director

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2 Comments on “Piranha II: The Spawning (1981) reviews and overview”

    1. David, I totally agree. It’s rubbish, the filmmakers know it’s rubbish and the intended audience know it’s rubbish. Job done. Unlike overlong over-inflated epic bores Cameron makes nowadays.

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