The Weekend Rent: Piranha and Piranha II: The Spawning

The Weekend Rent: Piranha and Piranha II: The Spawning

Aug 20, 2010

The summer movie season is winding down and we are about to enter that no-fun zone called Oscar season, when the studios unload all of their sepia-hued kitchen sink dramas and make a case for Meryl Streep to get nominated for another little gold statue. Can Blu-ray Bob hear a collective yawn? Thank you. All is not lost because Dimension Films has just released Piranha 3D, a painfully awesome summer movie that is exactly what you hoped it would be: a killer-fish flick with plenty of gratuitous nudity and violence that delights in showing brainless beach partiers who do little else but gyrate to bad techno get ripped apart by thousands of little teeth. Everything comes flying at you in 3D—breasts, severed body parts, blood, vomit and the sweat and tears of the game cast, which includes Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd and a brilliant cameo by Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss. If you can't make it to the theater this weekend—and why wouldn't you?—you can still check out the first two (?!) entries in this fishy franchise.

Piranha: The most successful film of Roger Corman's cult oeuvre has to be this shameless 1978 Jaws rip-off directed by Joe Dante that is available on both DVD and Blu-ray. A private investigator (Heather Menzies) is dispatched to Lost River Lake to find out what happened to two missing teens and inadvertently releases a school of genetically altered piranha into the local waters. The flesh-crazed fish tear through anything in their way: fishermen, redneck vacationers and even a camp full of little kids (as outrageous as the new film in theaters is, you won't find the latter happening in these PC times). Sure, the piranha are little more than rubber toys on sticks, but the filmmakers made the most of their limited budget to deliver the goods in this super fun killer-fish flick that takes itself way less seriously than that Steven Spielberg shark blockbuster.

Piranha II: The Spawning: Did someone just mention a big-name director? Well, this preposterous sequel is actually James Cameron’s directorial debut. Yes, before he was directing the highest grossing movies of all time, the King of the World took on this 1981 project about experimental flying (yes, flying) piranha that escape from a sunken navy ship and attack the guests of the Club Elysium hotel on the Caribbean vacation spot of St. Ann's. Like any respectable movie about water-loving vacationers, Piranha II contains a healthy helping of shameless sleaze in addition to ridiculous-looking flying rubber fish on wires and even one that seems to live inside a corpse on land for hours. The only familiar face in this mess is a young Lance Henriksen as the police chief, who, like his director, went on to more sensational sci-fi blockbusters. For now, this cult classic is sadly available only on DVD. Fishsticks!

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