Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Roger Corman may not be directing any more but his influence as producer can be felt throughout this cheap and cheerful creature feature."

You've seen giant snake films. You've seen deadly piranha films. Now you can get two for the price of one as monster animals combine to form 'genetic throwback' piranhaconda. It's big, it's scary, it has nasty, sharp, pointy teeth, it lives in the jungle and its preferred food is bikini-clad young women, though it's not averse to snacking on the occasional machine gun-toting bad guy along the way. Roger Corman may not be directing any more but his influence as producer can be felt throughout this cheap and cheerful creature feature from the team that brought you Sharktopus.

Part of the plot of the film concerns a bunch of people making their own exploitation film in the jungle, and there's a scene early on where the stuntman hero (Rib Hillis) persuades the writer (Terri Ivens) that she should drink more beer whilst working on the script. It's a cute way of making an excuse, and one certainly doesn't get the impression that the writers were sober throughout. The script of Piranhaconda meanders all over the place, resorting to another random bit of killer monster action whenever it runs out of steam, but that's not such a bad thing, and it's certainly better than the kind of B-movie that tries to deliver meaningful character drama. With the exception of Michael Madsen (here phoning it in as a scientist with a suspicious agenda), none of the cast would know where to begin with that kind of thing. They're adequate for light comedy and running around, however, and with the exception of the underdeveloped bad guys we do feel we get to know them a bit before they start getting eaten.

Copy picture

The special effects here are pretty rubbish. The monster is mostly CGI and not terribly well balanced against the background, though it's not quite as cartoonish as the serpentine heroes of Boa Vs Python. When it kills there is often no gore at all - a bit of a waste of the piranha aspect - and instead, a red mist fills the screen, as when one has died in certain computer games. Similarly, when the kidnappers who provide the film's subplot shoot people, they either miss or just knock them over, with very little blood to be seen. On the other hand, there's plenty of partial nudity, though no actual nakedness - this is tasteful exploitation.

Mixed in with all this are a smattering of other subplots that are introduced and then just as quickly abandoned when their protagonists are eaten - relics, perhaps, of previous drafts of the story that never made it through development. These include a search for medically miraculous orchids much like those in the Anaconda films. Despite trying to go one further, Piranhaconda never quite reaches that level of entertainment, but it's still an amusing way to pass the time, with an energy and a sense of timing that make it more fun than many movies of its ilk and a psychobilly score that suits it remarkably well. It just needs a bit more bite.

Reviewed on: 09 Apr 2014
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Piranhaconda packshot
Part killer snake, part killer fish, a hungry monster awakens from a long hibernation to feast on human flesh.
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Director: Jim Wynorski

Writer: Mike MacLean, J Brad Wilke

Starring: Michael Madsen, Rachel Hunter, Rib Hillis, Terri Ivens, Chris De Christopher

Year: 2012

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: US


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