Piranha II: The Spawning (aKa The Spawning & Piranha II: Flying Killers) is a 1981 horror film directed by James Cameron (The Terminator 1/2, Aliens, The Abyss, & True Lies) in his theatrical feature film directorial debut. James Cameron was originally hired as the special effects director for this film & took over for original director Miller Drake (Visual effects editor for Terminator 2, Last Action Hero, Batman Forever, & Men in Black II). He had no creative control over this production. James Cameron was fired after almost 3 weeks of shooting were done & producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (Beyond the Door, Madhouse, & Tentacles) finished directing the rest of the feature. They kept his name attached as the director because they wanted to sell it to American audiences. Due to it’s very low budget & cutting costs, Lance Henriksen had to pay for his own wardrobe for this film. It’s a follow up to 1978’s Piranha. The Piranha franchise has spawned 3 other films since this sequel. Which includes two different remakes & a follow up to one of them.
A group of tourists including Tyler Sherman (played by: Steve Marachuk from Eyes of Laura Mars, Waikiki , & Hot Target) are taking the diving courses provided by Anne Kimbrough (played by: Tricia O’Neil from The Gumball Rally & Are You in the House Alone?) from the Hotel Elysium. One of her divers goes missing & ends up being found mutilated. Anne’s husband, Steve Kimbrough (played by: Lance Henriksen from Alien franchise, Pumpkinhead franchise, Near Dark, & Hard Target) doesn’t believe what his wife is trying to tell him. He’s the local police chief & has to investigate this mysterious death. Other strange events & kills occur around town. Anne hooks up with stranger Tyler but she finds out why is here. He informs her about the experiments & the deadly fish that are causing all this chaos. Raoul (played by: Ted Richert from Porky’s II: The Next Day & Eyes of a Stranger) refuses to close down the hotel & stop the dives. He fires Anne after she says she won’t do it with all this dangerous out there. Gabby (played by: Ancile Gloudon from Passion and Paradise, Undue Influence, & Wide Sargasso Sea) provides proof to convince Steve about their disastrous situation! The locals & tourists are falling into a fatal trap due to Raoul’s greed. Anne & Steve’s own son Chris (played by: Ricky Paull Goldin from The Blob, Mirror Mirror, Pastime, & Lambada) gets a job on the water to spend more time with Allison Dumont (played by: Leslie Graves from Death Wish II & Here We Go Again) against their wishes. Now they must save the town & their family from these flesh ripping monsters that can fly!!!!
Considering it’s troubled history, I am not surprised that director James Cameron isn’t a big fan of this sequel. He was basically a gun for hire & got fired before he could even finish the project. However, I personally have always enjoyed this follow up to the original Piranha. The addition of making them fly was a smart choice & the fish became bigger killing machines than before! This sequel is full of murder & I honestly lost count how many people died in this which is a great thing for type of feature. It’s loaded with gore & it has those awesome practical special effects that I miss so much in the genre. It has some real brutal moments in this! The opening was a fun reminder of what horror films used to be. No one really does that anymore, it’s very effective to start out with something like that. It stays with you through out the whole experience. Plus it’s always good to see horror icon Lance Henriksen in a lead role. Besides him, I wasn’t really impressed with the cast. It seemed like they went for whoever & didn’t really put much effort into it. This production is non stop entertainment so it makes up for the poor acting choices here. It’s better than your typical Jaws rip off. I think it’s very under-rated & it’s one of the better killer animal flicks around!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory. This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is from a new 2K scan from the original camera negative. It’s a major improvement from every previous home video release from before & I’ve viewed/owned most of them. It’s great to see this sequel get some proper treatment in HD because I never thought I’d experience it to look this good! The DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono track is very solid but it’s not going roar in your home system or anything like that. The dialogue is clean & the score actually shines the most on here. It’s still a huge upgrade from all the older releases. It also has English subtitles. I am excited about this new partnership with Scream Factory & Sony Pictures! I am looking forward to their future collaborations!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray disc. It has an almost 16 minute “Interview” with actor Ricky Paull Goldin. He talks about being excited to get out of school to film this at a nice location. He chats about working with director James Cameron & actor Lance Henriksen. He brings up his overall experience on the production. He also mentions they filmed two completely different versions of this feature. One for America & a sexier cut for overseas. It has a little over 14 minute “Interview” with special effects artist Brian Wade. He says he is proud to have worked on James Cameron’s theatrical feature film directorial debut. He brings up that he was a fan of the original film. He talks about his experience on the feature. He jokes about the flying fish. He says the special effects in this range from gruesome to silly. He discusses the film’s ending. Last but not least, it has the Theatrical Trailer. It also has reversible artwork. It’s available everywhere right now & it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!