Review: Piranhaconda / Cert: 15 / Director: Jim Wynorski / Screenplay: Mike MacLean / Starring: Michael Madsen, Rachel Hunter, Shandi Finnessey, Rib Hillis / Release Date: January 7th 2013
It’s not asking the world, is it? You’re watching a movie called Piranhaconda, so it’s not unreasonable to expect a cross between a piranha and an anaconda, right? But no, what we get is something that, as Rachel Hunter points out, is “like an unholy union between a piranha and an anaconda”. Like? So it isn’t actually a hybrid then? Just a big snake with particularly sharp gnashers? Well that’s bitterly disappointing. Nice of them to hire Rachel Hunter to point this out (she doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose), but you can't help feeling a little deceived.
Moving swiftly on, Piranhaconda is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the Syfy/Roger Corman school of filmmaking. These TV movies generally have a budget of a mere million dollars but you’ll still struggle to see where they could have possibly spent it. Needless to say, the CGI piranhawotsit is rubbish as it chomps its way through the unexplored Hawaiian wilderness. Unexplored? Well, there’s an odd thing. We thought Hawaii was fairly developed but apparently not. It’s full of deserted jungle and ruined industrial complexes which are lairs to its notorious gangs of heavily armed kidnappers. Who knew? By the way, it’s a kidnapped film crew who provide the plot; otherwise we’d just have a series random babes being eaten in inexplicable puffs of red mist. Not that we still don’t get plenty of those, mind you. Some are given the briefest of backstories for being in the jungle (botany, swimming); some are not. Our favourite was the one who just gets out of a boat, walks up a tarmacked path in the middle of the nowhere (how’d that get there?) and then gets eaten. She never appeared before; she never gets mentioned again. About a minute of screen time. Brilliant.
But for all this, Piranhathingy is actually rather superior to most tosh of this sort. These things live or die by how far they can get their tongue into their cheek, and both the script and the cast do a pretty good job of sending the genre up. This is the same team that gave us the seminal Sharktopus (2010) and they seem to have mastered how to pitch all this self-effacing silliness at the right level. The Cheetah Whores' surfed-up theme tune (they did a similar one for Sharktopus) immediately brings a smile to the face, and there are gags about B-movies and a brilliant performance from Shandi Finnessey (another Sharktopus veteran) as Kimmy, the bikini-clad star of the ludicrous horror shocker the fictional film crew are making. Finnessey’s comic timing is perfect and in some parallel universe she is probably Jennifer Aniston; maybe one day she will be. In fact it’s only the big guns of Michael Madsen and Rachel Hunter who let the side down by just looking a bit bored. C’mon guys, have some fun, because the Oscars certainly won’t be beckoning.
Wait... did we really just call Sharktopus seminal?