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John’s Horror Corner: Piranha II: The Spawning (1981), the gory James Cameron classic about demonic flying piranhas trained to go for the throat!

June 14, 2020

MY CALL: If you’re looking for a lot of dumb cheesy fun with gore and evil flying go-for-the-throat fish violence, then you have found your Eden. And if that was somehow not specific enough for you to know if you want to see this movie, then it’s probably not for you. MORE MOVIES LIKE Piranha II: The Spawning: Piranha 3D (2010) or Piranha 3DD (2012) continue to amplify the campy, raunchy, extra cheesy and chunky gory spirit of this sequel.

NATURAL HORROR SIDEBAR: Looking for more natural horror? Check out Night of the Lepus (1972), Frogs (1972), Bug (1975), Jaws (1975), Food of the Gods (1976), Grizzly (1976), Squirm (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977), Day of the Animals (1977), Orca (1977), Piranha (1978), Alligator (1980), Of Unknown Origin (1983), Cujo (1983), Razorback (1984), Monkey Shines (1988),  Slugs (1988), Food of the Gods II (1989), Shakma (1990), Arachnophobia (1990), Ticks (1993), Mosquito (1994), The Ghost in the Darkness (1996), Anaconda (1997), Lake Placid (1999), Rogue (2007), Pig Hunt (2008), Chaw (2009), The Grey (2011), The Bay (2012), The Shallows (2016), 47 Meters Down (2017), Boar (2017) and Crawl (2019).

In terms of overall production value, this is a big step up from Piranha (1978). The opening scenes depict a pair of scuba divers investigating sunken ship wreckage and engaging in an underwater sex scene before discovering saltwater piranhas! The shots of the attacking piranhas show much more of the creatures than part 1, and much more of the results of their swarming flesh-gauging attacks.

Our first glimpse of a flesh-stripped corpse looks great, but it’s even better (although super cheesy) when a flying fish piranha emerges from the corpse’s gaping guts to kill yet its next victim.

Working for a beachside Caribbean island resort, Anne (Tricia O’Neil) is the scuba tour instructor for the tourists. When a mangled body is found in the water with no good explanation of the cause of death, she teams up with a biochemist (pretending to be a tourist) to investigate what’s going on. But it turns out this biochemist is linked to the experiments of the first movie! Adding more conflict, Anne’s ex-husband is the police chief (Lance Henriksen; PumpkinheadHarbinger DownAliens, AVPThe Pit and the Pendulum) and he suspects she is somehow involved in the killings.

The frequency of flying piranha attacks increases yet somehow there is never any evidence of their existence as bizarrely mutilated bodies stack up. Meanwhile, these fish seriously look evil. Like, I think they inspired the Gates to Hell spectral fish in Freddy’s Dead (1991).

As mentioned before, director James Cameron (The Terminator, The Abyss, Aliens, True Lies) brought this sequel a serious bump in production value… but also a major increase in shredded gory cheese. The gory grand finale comes as the island resort vacationers approach the beach after midnight for the grunion run. But now genetically crossed with flying fish, the piranhas aerially assault the resort patrons. And these flying piranhas (like attack dogs) always seem to go for the throat for the most gruesome bloody death possible!

If you’re looking for a lot of dumb cheesy fun with gore and evil flying go-for-the-throat fish violence, then you have found your Eden.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2020 9:43 am

    When I was in the army a Colonel told us once, “You are masters in the art of violence.” While everyone else smiled and nodded, I thought “This guy has never seen Piranha 2 or he would know what true masters of violence are.” Okay, I really didn’t think that but it would be fitting and made me think of it after reading your opening line. Great review!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 15, 2020 6:50 pm

      If that colonel was a horror fan, he would’ve appreciated that comment! lol

  2. June 15, 2020 2:14 pm

    Good cheesy fun horror with lots of gore! I like Piranha 2, even though isn’t a patch on the original, but then I guess there’s only so many ways they could have taken the story next.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 15, 2020 6:51 pm

      It really served as a stepping stone between 1981 and 2010’s positively bonkers remake/reimagining/reboot/re-whateverthekidsarecallingitthesedays.

      • June 16, 2020 3:07 pm

        Oh yeah, 2010’s remake was totally mental, fun though!

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