Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)

piranha 2 the spawning poster 1981 movie james cameron
1 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10


From acting to flying piranhas...it's bad

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Piranha II:  The Spawning

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s):   Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  December 1981 (Italy)/November 5, 1982 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


The fish are coming…oooh….scary….

The government’s program’s to breed piranha as a weapon has been shut down, but a shipment of the genetically engineered eggs has sunk in the tropics.  When the eggs begin hatching, the piranhas are free to feast.  A SCUBA instructor named Anne Kimbrough (Tricia O’Neil) finds herself trying to find what is killing people with one of her clients named Tyler Sherman (Steve Marachuk) as her ex-husband Police Chief Steve Kimbrough (Lance Henriksen) tries to keep the peace.  With a big festival scheduled to occur at the local resort, the piranhas have mutated and now can take flight.

Listed as the first film directed by James Cameron, Piranha II:  The Spawning (or sometimes even Piranha II:  Flying Killers) is a follow-up to the Jaws rip-off Piranha from 1978.  Released to horrible reviews, the film has gained a cult following due to Cameron’s association and as a “so-bad-it’s-good” film.


Argh! My LJS is really having a bad effect on me!

I think despite its background, Piranha managed to stand-on its own and got past just its Jaws roots.  Here, the movie still feels like Jaws (and even feels a bit like it is ripping off Jaws 2), but it also almost is making fun of Piranha.  This movie definitely is bad…very bad.

The movie is filled with bad acting.  The main leads aren’t horrible, but there are a lot of supporting actors who can’t act their way out of a bag.  With goofy cooks, slutty girls, and uppity club owners, the movie is loaded with bad actors who are sometimes dubbed, so in addition to killer flying fish you get some great “dramatic” scenes.

The underwater shooting isn’t too bad, but in late ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, viewers were overloaded by water based movies.  Starting with Jaws, and followed by films like The Deep, and Cameron’s own film The Abyss, there are tons of better “water” films available to see so it is hard to wow a viewer with good underwater photography.


I’m a nurse…not a fish treat!!!

The real pull of the movie have to be the fish.  Cameron was originally brought in to design the flying piranhas which were supposed to have evolved from the piranha of the original films through genetic engineering and gene splicing.  The piranhas are simply puppets that manage to overpower anyone they attack…despite not being in the water (although as soon as anyone is even touched by a fish, they promptly fall in the water).

Piranha II:  The Spawning is a bad movie, but it still is fun.  It is unapologetically goofy and the actors in the movie don’t really treat the movie like they are in a schlocky movie.  Piranha wasn’t dead after Piranha II:  The Spawning.  The original Piranha was remade for TV in 1995, and Piranha 3D was released in 2010.

Related Links:

Piranha (1978)

Piranha (1995)

Piranha 3D (2010)

Piranha 3DD (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response