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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
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  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
  • German: Dolby Digital Mono
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  • 3 Theatrical trailer - None for Piranha

Piranha II - The Spawning

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

You know there are many mysteries in life. Some examples of things that mystify me are; the Fremantle Dockers in the top four of the AFL ladder, why John Howard is still Prime Minister and how Piranha II – The Spawning ever received financial backing and now a release in our beloved DVD format.

When a film is this bad, it’s a challenge to pay attention. Not having seen Piranha, I was assured that this wasn’t a prerequisite to appreciate Piranha II – The Spawning. Appreciate? You gotta be kidding me!

The story takes place on the small island of Elysium, which has a Club Med where really dorky Love Boat rejects go for their honeymoon, a police force of one, a hospital that seems way too large for a small island community, and its fair share of stereotypical rednecks and lone fishermen. Naturally, the police chief has a teenage son who lives with his ex-wife and you just know that’s going to require a good ol’ fashioned father-rescues-son moment somewhere later in the film.

When a body is fished out of the sea with flesh missing, the authorities theorise about sharks, barracuda, motorboat propellers or maybe even sea-leprosy (okay, I made the last bit up, but the whole film is such a crock I’m surprised they didn’t throw that suggestion in). The police chief’s ex-wife is a diving instructor responsible for the diver whose chewed body was recovered, and she seems dead keen on getting a closer, on-shore look at the carcass. After being turned away, she breaks into the morgue, takes some holiday snaps of the chunks, gets disturbed by a nurse and rushes out leaving behind her credit card (yes, her credit card). Now there’s a thing. Why is there a nurse on night duty in a morgue? Cadavers are unlikely to require medical assistance. Anyway, let’s move on.

Just when you think this is all getting a bit much, a flying piranha leaps out of the body cavity a la Alien and proceeds to snack on the morgue nurse. I am not making this up, nor did I dream it. Of course her body is discovered, but still no one can piece together what is happening. The flying piranhas zoom around and chomp a few more dumb people who seem to almost throw themselves at the fish, and police chief’s wife suddenly remembers a military experiment several years before that involved the crossbreeding of piranhas, flying fish and something else aquatic (sorry, I was rapidly losing interest). Maybe, this experiment is related to the mutilations? You gotta admit she’s good - and she knows just how to deal with them. 1000 kilos of batter and bags and bags of deep frying potatoes, I say...

"We want fish! We want fish!"

Anyway, back at Club Med, the natives have gathered for the annual spawning of the grunion fish that beach themselves by the trillion one night of the year, and it’s time for the local version of Whacking Day. With everyone assembled and chanting about how badly they want fish, they march to the beach, only to be attacked by the mutant flying fish a la the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Who can stop the pandemonium? Who can destroy the mutant guppies? Who gives a shit? This 1981 film is a shocker. It’s hard to believe it was directed by James Cameron (yes, the same one). Some of the acting is atrocious, the basic premise is a load of crap, there are huge inconsistencies in the story, terrible special effects and model sequences, an awful script and shockingly bad dialogue.

Some of the acting is so over the top and amateurish it reminds me of a Saturday morning kids’ show. The general manager of Ham Actors ‘R’ Us mustn’t have believed his good luck when he received the call saying, “We’ll take all you’ve got.” The music is lame and possibly composed by a deaf mute. And to top it all off, there are some utterly pointless women who do nothing more than get their breasts out – three sets in the first 15 minutes. Why, Mr Cameron, why?

And lastly the shots of the fish as they zoom through the water, and the air (I still can’t get over that), are accompanied by a trilly (new word) sound effect that sounds like grasshoppers massing. It’s a joke, surely?

I have spent far too much time telling you about this Jaws wannabe. Do yourself a favour and leave it well alone. Do me a favour, and tell all your friends.

  Video
Contract

We all know the deal - crap film, great transfer. Well, guess what? Not this time. Here we get a truly ordinary transfer to accompany a truly shite film. There is a god! It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, but is not 16:9 enhanced. The overall image is noticeably soft and grainy, while there are a few long shots that are particularly soft and appear almost as if recorded from VHS though that isn’t the case.

Colours are acceptable, but there is evidence of noise and colour bleeding. Black levels are variable but not great, and shadow detail is poor at times. There are no compression artefacts, but there are numerous film artefacts such as white specks, dirt and some white vertical lines that are especially noticeable in Chapters 9 and 11. At least there is no layer change.

  Audio
Contract

The only English language option is a Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track that is serviceable at best. Clarity is mostly good, the dialogue audible, and there are no problems with synchronisation. The volume control will also need a bit of a nudge. The range of sound is limited, though the low-level sounds are as good as they get for mono, and the only audio is to be heard from the centre speaker. There are no pops, crackles or hiss.

Other audio options are Spanish, French and German Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks if you’d prefer.

  Extras
Contract

Thankfully there is no audio commentary for this, saving me from having to endure it all again. Maybe James Cameron is too ashamed, or asked too much money? No, the only extras are some Dolby Digital 5.1 trailers for the dreadful Men in Black II, the even more dreadful Anaconda and Spider-Man which, apparently, is “Coming Soon”!

  Overall  
Contract

Piranhas bite and so do films like this. Overacted, poorly scripted and badly directed films do not make for good entertainment. This is no B-grade Saturday afternoon flick, more an off the scale, laughable horror film that would struggle to even scare the winner of this year’s “Most Easily Scared Person” award. If you wanna see a good fish story, get The Deep, Jaws or even Jaws 2. Whatever you do though, avoid the third and fourth Jaws films, they stink even worse than this.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2735
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      And I quote...
    "What’s the difference between Piranha II – The Spawning and a real piranha? One’s a nasty, stinking bastard of a thing. The other is a fish..."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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