Plot: What’s it about?
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?
Before he brought us such blockbusters as Titanic, Terminator 2, and Aliens, James Cameron made his feature film debut with Piranha II: The Spawning. A sequel to the cult classic Piranha, this picture has a minimalist budget and a dearth of well known stars, something Cameron would never again experience as a director, of course. And what could Cameron do without a ton of cash and stars, when forced to use only his own skills as a filmmaker? Well, let’s just say unless he has a bankroll behind him, Cameron isn’t able to show much and Piranha II more resembles his failed television efforts, instead of his popcorn smashes. Now I loved the original Piranha, as it celebrated its B movie nature, with hilarious dialogue, memorable attack sequences, and a campish texture, but this sequel fails to pick up on those elements. I do think the laughable special effects here add a lot to the entertainment value, but Cameron seems to want this to be a serious motion picture at times, which was a serious mistake. If you have a lot of booze and a taste for very, very bad movies however, Piranha II: The Spawning is a solid rental. Even though this film has some name power involved and a good deal of cult appeal, Columbia has issued a poor disc and as such, I’d say to leave this one on the shelves, where it belongs. I can understand the lack of extras, but the lack of a widescreen treatment is inexcusable.
Video: How does it look?
Piranha II is presented in full frame, which compromises the intended aspect ratio. I didn’t expect a full scale restoration on this one, but I did think Columbia could at least show us the movie in the intended format. In addition to the lame full frame only edition, the image is marred by grain, marks, and other debris, making this a weak all around effort. I could deal with the built in flaws, as this movie will never look pristine, but when the studio can’t even give us a proper widescreen version, I am very disappointed. And given the cult status of this title, I doubt Columbia will see fit to go back and fix this grievous mistake.
Audio: How does it sound?
A mono option is found here and as this movie isn’t audio dynamite, we don’t need a new surround track on this disc. The materials were stunted from the start, thanks to the limited production resources, so some dialogue is garbled and at times, slight distortion is present. This is not the fault of this treatment however, as the material is to blame and by turn, we can’t take it out on Columbia’s efforts in this area. The music doesn’t sound too good either, with some warped moments and such, which could be due to the poor condition of the material itself. In any event, this one isn’t up to par all around, even for a low rent B movie like Piranha II. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, Thai, Chinese, and Portuguese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.