PIRANHACONDA will be the second movie to premier in June (Saturday, June 16th at 9pm) on the SyFy channel in what is being called the “Most Dangerous Month on TV.” We started this party with JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK and though far from perfect, it had a fun energy to it that I couldn’t help but enjoy. PIRANHACONDA, unfortunately, isn’t quite as successful. It suffers from a really bad case of “been there, seen that.” In fact, it’s the worse case I’ve ever seen (literally)!!
PIRANHACONDA takes place in the jungles of Hawaii where Professor Lovegrove (Michael Madsen; yup, “Mr. Blonde” himself) is on an expedition in search of a mythic creature he believes is real. The creature is proven early on (like in the first five minutes) and kills the people on his team, but Lovegrove escapes unscratched and even manages to steal one of the creature’s eggs. At this point the creature isn’t referred to with the titular name but has the moniker of some ancient Polynesian myth (the name escapes me). After this opening attack we head over to a different part of the island where an indie movie crew is shooting a low-budget slasher flick, HEAD CHOPPER. Milo (Chris De Christopher) is the overbearing perfectionist director; Rose (Teri Ivens) is the script supervisor; Jack (Rib Hills) is the hunky stuntman; and Kimmy (Shandi Finnessey) is the diva B-movie starlet who acts like an A-list actress. What brings these two seemingly unrelated stories together is a group of Hawaiian kidnappers (I’m not kidding) lead by Pike (Michael Swan) and Talia (Rachel Hunter, who was recently in SyFy’s MIAMI MAGMA), who capture Lovegrove and then capture our cast and crew of HEAD CHOPPER. They believe the studio will pay big bucks to get their lead actress and director back (do they know anything about Hollywood??).
Now I’m not gonna pick apart this film because we all know what to expect from a movie with the name “PIRANHACONDA.” The only problem is we didn’t really get the kind of movie I was expecting. PIRANHACONDA is written by Mike MacLean, the same guy who brought us SHARKTOPUS, so I was expecting a little more focus on the actual hybridization of the creature. But the creature starts out as being just a Polynesian myth come to life until about half way through the film when the filmmakers seem to realize the title of the film is “PIRANHACONDA”. The story line and all the characters in it also seemed extremely familiar. I mean way more familiar than the typical SyFy flick. And then I began to realize that beyond the script and characters, the actual scenery was the exact same as another film I saw last year. And to prove without a shadow of the doubt that I watch waaaay too many SyFy films, I recognized the scenery in PIRANHACONDA as being identical to 2010’s DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR. Not only was MacLean the writer on this epic as well, but both films have the same director, Jim Wynorski (he directed DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR under the name “Rob Robertson”). Now a clearer picture started to emerge.
It seems Wynorski was truly embracing his low-budget roots and decided to save money by utilizing the same locations from DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR to film PIRANHACONDA. So they probably cranked out a script, filmed it, and then after the success of SHARKTOPUS decided to give it a hybrid title. Thus PIRANHACONDA was born. Now I’m just speculating about this chain of events, but if you were to watch DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR and PIRANHACONDA back to back you will see that not only are the exact same locations used, but the characters are all pretty much the same, the set-up kills by the creature are the same, the creature chases the heroes down the exact same dirt road, and they even use the abandoned factory for the climax of the film. This takes “been there, seen that” to a whole other level!! You also get the feeling the script was being changed as they were filming because eventually the cast start throwing around the “Piranhaconda” name. Madsen’s Lovegrove tells them it isn’t a mythical creature hunting them down but a freak mutation that nature produced. This leads to one of the more amusing exchanges:
Arturo: “It’s not a snake; it’s some kind of unholy union between a piranha and an anaconda.”
Talia: “You mean a ‘Piranhaconda’?”
Pike: [Slowly turns his head in disgust to look at Talia] “I can’t believe you just said that.”
And because this is a Wynorski flick we get plenty of huge-chested women running around getting dirty, bloody, and killed by the creature. I had no idea that there were so many huge-chested women in the field of zoology and archeology!! Most of the f/x, not surprisingly, are CGI, but we do get a few practical f/x with blood being sprayed around the cast members. I screened a very rough copy of PIRANHACONDA and don’t know if I saw the final version of the creature or if the sound f/x for the creature were finalized, but the piranhaconda looked pretty much as you’d expect: It’s a huge, gigantic anaconda with a piranha head. Meh. And when it “screams” it sounds exactly like Godzilla (again, though, I’m not sure if these details were finalized on the screener I watched).
I really wanted to enjoy PIRANHACONDA, and part of me did. But I wanted another campy SHARTOPUS-like film. Instead what we end up with is the exact same story, setting, locations, and characters that we’ve all seen before … LITERALLY. The end result is PIRANHACONDA feeling like a rush job that’s had a lot of work done to it in post-production. I’m also suspicious that the filmmakers here had a cool title but no actual script. The titular creature definitely wasn’t utilized to the best effect!!. If you’ve never seen DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR, then you’ll have fun with PIRANHACONDA. But if you’ve seen the former then PIRANHACONDA will be like watching a remake. Recommended for the SyFy completists,and those who, like myself, just really enjoy a SyFy flick … I know you’re out there (I can’t help it; SyFy flicks are my heroine).
PIRANHACONDA premiers Saturday, June 16th at 9pm ET/PT on SyFy.
Director: Jim Wynorski
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer