Plot: St. Ann’s is a hotspot in the Caribbean, a place where people flock to soak up the sun, engage in all kinds of relaxation techniques, and of course, seek out romantic encounters. At the Club Elysium, Anne Kimbrough (Tricia O’Neil) works as a scuba diving instructor and also takes residence there, she just separated from her husband Steve (Lance Henriksen), a police officer. She has taken countless tourists out and shown them how to enjoy the underwater splendor, but the night before, two divers never returned to the hotel. No one is sure what happened to them, but the truth involves some nakedness, an attempt at underwater love makin’, and a bunch of pissed off, carnivorous fishies. There is much interest in the divers’ deaths, but with a big social event coming up, it is swept under the rug by most folks. Anne remains curious about the case, but with the advances of a guest named Sherman (Steve Marachuck), her mind is far removed at times. She resists his charms at first, but when the body count begins to rise and Tyler proves to be well informed on the subject matter, they become a little closer. The hotel owner is warned about the dangers in the waters, but he refuses to halt the social events. Can Anne and Tyler somehow keep the waters safe, even if that means a confrontation with the killer fish?
Entertainment Value: Although Piranha II is likely best known as James Cameron’s first spin as a director, the movie should be best known for waves of murderous fish, who happen to have razor sharp teeth and the power of flight. That’s right, the piranha in this sequel to Joe Dante’s b movie classic aren’t held prison by the ocean, instead they can take to the skies for an aerial assault. This one never hits those same b movie peaks as the original, but it is pure cheese and offers consistent entertainment, if you appreciate this kind of schlock. The ridiculous dialogue, uneven narrative, and cheap effects aren’t going to dazzle all audiences, so those after a serious, sincere tale of killer fish might be let down, but genre fans and b movie aficionados are likely to have some laughs, as this is over the top, ludicrous stuff. The performances are laughable, but feel right at home with the rest of the so bad, it is humorous elements of Piranha II and given the thin characters provided, you can’t blame the cast. Lance Henriksen is here and fun to watch, while teen star Ricky Paull Goldin is also around and the movie kicks in some nice bikini clad eye candy as well. Piranha II hasn’t turned into a genre classic like the original, but it is a fun ride if you have a taste for bad movies. So fans of low rent horror, animal attack cinema, and b movies should have fun here.
I think one of Piranha II’s more awkward elements is the strange, creepy relationship between a mother and her son, which includes a scene where the son interacts with his nude mom while she relaxes in bed. He brings her a fish while she sleeps naked, quite a bonding moment, to be sure. There’s also a few topless scenes and some brief full frontal nudity, so there’s some mild, fun sleaze to be had. As for fish related violence, the movie delivers numerous attacks and some nice bloodshed, as you’d expect from vicious little bastards with super sharp teeth. A lot of ripped up, gouged, and mangled folks are paraded through the movie, with some competent looking wounds, some of which are quite goopy and reveal some nice gore touches. The flying piranha look hilarious and those scenes are immense fun, so between the wacky fish effects and the bloodshed, Piranha II has better special effects than you might expect. The dialogue is bad, but in the fun way, with a good amount of awkward, hilarious, or just plain cringe inducing lines throughout. A few real diamonds can be found here as well, so for fans of bad dialogue, this movie comes through. As for craziness, we have the odd mother/son dynamic, flying piranha, terrible dialogue, and general cheap b movie threads, so while not insane, the movie does have some wackiness.
Overall Insanity: 3/10
The Disc: Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release finally gives us a proper widescreen version of Piranha II, taken from a new 2k scan of the original camera negative. This is the best the movie has ever looked on home video, with a clean print, natural and bright colors, and smooth contrast levels. The image also yields much improved fine detail, so this is a much sharper, more refined presentation than we’ve ever had available on previous home video editions. The extras include new interviews with Ricky Paull Goldin and effects artist Brian Wade, as well as the film’s trailer.