Starring: Michael Madsen, Rachel Hunter, Shandi Finnessey, Terri Ivens, Rib Hillis, Chris De Christopher, Kurt Yaeger, Michael Swan, Angie Savage, Noah Blake
Running Time: 82 minutes
I remember when I was a lad; for one of my birthdays some kid I hated showed up. Everyone hated him because he sucked. I invited him just to be polite and even though he knew we all hated him he still showed up. So we beat him senseless tied him to a tree and he was never seen again. That may have never actually happened, but it is a lot like the film PIRANHACONDA. If you know you’re going to hate it, why even bother? PIRANHACONDA is the latest from producer Roger Corman, headed by the director of CAMEL SPIDERS, Jim Wynorski, and from the writer of SHARKTOPUS, Mike MacLean. In other words, it’s a pretty awesomely awful film.
It starts on an absolute high that it can never quite match, as we are treated to the film’s very own theme tune. Whatever happened to dodgy horrors getting great inappropriate themes? Even Burt Bacharach composed a song for THE BLOB. PIRANHACONDA’s theme is inspired by 1960s surf music, and resulted in me allowing the DVD menu to play on repeat for a good 20 minutes. After that the film jumps into a plot that sees Michael Madsen as a University professor searching for a mythological species of giant snake, a slasher film crew shooting their third instalment, some mercenaries hoping to receive a ransom, and women who take off their shirts just before they are eaten by some large CGI creatures. In other words, it’s all you want from such a film.
Of course the performances aren’t exactly convincing. Madsen resorts to his auto-pilot setting and just never sounds too interested in what is going on. Perhaps at the time of filming he was continuously checking his phone to see if Tarantino had texted him to offer him a place in DJANGO UNCHAINED. Rachel Hunter has absolutely nothing to do, except call the creature by the title of the film, but at least the rest of the cast seem to be along for an enjoyable ride.
I actually loved the locations used, with a vast array of greens littering the screen during aerial shots. Hawaii is brought to life as it should be and for the most part the snakes actually fit in well with their surroundings. The biggest complaint would have to be that PIRANHACONDA is all ‘Conda and very little Piranha. Almost every kill is similar, and there is no skin shredding that I would have loved to see. Instead, the snakes will simply crawl around their prey, allow the victim to scream, and then kind of dart at them, leaving different body parts behind. It’s obvious the budget causes some restraint, especially in the chase sequences where the snakes are completely absent. As the heroes ride to safety on a quad bike, the camera keeps cutting behind them to show…an empty dirt road. Hardly exciting stuff.
With a rather large supporting cast there are plenty of kills, and although they are similar they are still a lot of fun. The dialogue is atrociously bad to the point of hilarity, but at least the actors attempt to deliver it straight faced. I always find that too much nodding and winking at the camera merely results in an annoying sense of a B-movie’s own self satisfaction. PIRANHACONDA avoids this and is an easy 82 minutes to watch. It doesn’t quite reach the absurdity levels to set it apart from other Corman productions and I’d much rather watch SHARKTOPUS or MEGASHARK VS GIANT OCTOPUS.