In the 1990s the Showtime cable network began airing all-new Roger Corman remakes of his past exploitation cheapies like WASP WOMAN (1959) and NOT OF THIS EARTH (1957). Some were better and others, but in any case the ever-resourceful Corman managed to make money off the same material
twice, which, for PIRANHA, is where inspiration evidently ended.
To hunt a missing hiker, investigator Maggie MacNamara (Alexandra Paul) teams with environmental lawyer Paul Grogan (William Katt), resident of the mountain area where the boy disappeared. They search a seemingly-abandoned government research site in the hills, and Maggie incautiously drains a
large pool, figuring there may be a body at the bottom. In fact, the kid and his large-breasted girlfriend were chewed to pieces by the pool's mutated piranha, capable of spawning and thriving anywhere. Developed by military geneticists as a biological weapon, the whole species has now been
accidentally flushed into the community river system. Maggie and Paul race to warn the public but are frustrated by Paul's old eco-nemesis, J. R. Randolph (Monte Markham), a developer opening a waterfront resort that day. Lawmen on his payroll lock the heroes in jail, and Maggie and Paul break out
too late to prevent a bloodbath at Randolph's gaudy fete. Paul endures piranha bites to swim to a sunken toxic waste tank and release the poison before the fish escape downstream.
This copies the John-Sayles-scripted 1978 original, saluted by Steven Spielberg as the cleverest of the many JAWS (1975) imitations--virtually scene-for-scene. But everybody knows how seafood smells when it's no longer fresh. The best that can be said for this 1996 helping is that it's utterly
flavorless. High-tech special effects make no notable improvement; in fact, the genius of the piranha concept was how it avoided the need to show a costly creature in the first place. More so than the first film, this fish dish serves up heavy-handed environmental platitudes, with Markham
stereotyped as the Evil Businessman who ultimately blows his brains out in an office walled with hunting trophies. At least Alexandra Paul's no-nonsense performance ranks well above the bimbo heroine from last time. After airing on Showtime, the feature flopped onto videocassette via Corman's own
home-video distribution company. (Violence, nudity)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: In the 1990s the Showtime cable network began airing all-new Roger Corman remakes of his past exploitation cheapies like WASP WOMAN (1959) and NOT OF THIS EARTH (1957). Some were better and others, but in any case the ever-resourceful Corman managed to mak… (more)