BBFC Classification: 15
Director: Jim Wynorski
Starring: Michael Madsen, Rachel Hunter, Rib Hillis, Terri Ivens, Chris De Christopher, Shandi Finnessey, Michael Swan
If the title alone doesn’t give you a clue as to what this is all about then add the words ‘Roger Corman’ and ‘SyFy’ into the mix and you’ll pretty much know exactly what you’re going to get. Whether or not that is a good thing depends on your taste and tolerance levels but as with all of these mutated monster films, they’re nothing if not amusing, although not always in the right way.
Scientist Professor Lovegrove (Michael Madsen – Reservoir Dogs) discovers a nest of giant eggs whilst trekking through Hawaii. Coming to the conclusion that these are the eggs of a legendary river monster thought to be a mutant hybrid of a piranha and an anaconda – or a “Piranhaconda” as one character helpfully points out – and takes one from the nest. At the same time a film crew are on the island trying to film a low-budget slasher film with a cast including several bikini-clad beauties, and have just lost their investor’s backing so they begin to pack up but are kidnapped by a gang of mercenaries who have also taken Lovegrove captive. Naturally the rightful owner of the egg comes looking for it’s baby and everybody involved has to fight for their lives against the giant fish/reptile thingy until the good doctor points out that it takes two to make an egg and daddy soon comes looking as well.
Well, that all sounds terribly exciting, doesn’t it? And if the images that your mind probably conjures up were what was filmed then it could have been a top-drawer B-movie. Unfortunately, this was made for SyFy so there’s no nudity, no realistic prosthetic gore or extreme violence and that is what lets the film down the most as the seeds are here for something a little better than the drek that has been peddled out recently (Dragon Wasps, anybody?).
Directed by Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall) and produced by B-movie royalty Roger Corman (Piranha/The Fall of the House of Usher/Frankenstein Unbound), Piranhaconda does feel put together a little better than a lot of other SyFy product. The Hawaiian jungle setting is shot very well, the vivid greens of the undergrowth being very striking and there are a few shots that stick out as being a little more inventive than you would expect.
However, the acting is the usual terrible standard, with only the presence of Michael Madsen adding a little weight, although he is about as believable in the role of a professor as Denise Richards was as a nuclear scientist in The World is Not Enough. The pacing of the film is also an issue, feeling a lot longer than its 82-minute running time.
And the monster? Remember those plastic snakes you used to be able to buy that were several hinged sections snapped together that moved side-to-side like a snake when you held the tail? Those were more realistic than the CGI cartoon that rolls around the screen, turning people into clouds of red pixels. And a huge amount of CGI dust gets sprayed across a lot of the scenes here, no doubt to mask the other bad visual effects.
In its defence, this film knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything different but had it been free from the restrictions of TV movies then it could have had something going for it, something along the lines of Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D. But trying to make low-budget exploitation without being able to include the trademarks that most viewers watch these films for is somewhat redundant and ultimately that’s what Piranhaconda is.
Special Features: Trailer.
UK Release Date: 7th January 2013