“Piranhaconda” continues Syfy’s June original movie premieres

If you think watching a completed Syfy original movie is a trip, try checking one out that features unfinished special effects, sound and music! That was my experience with watching a preview screener for this Saturday’s Piranhaconda, premiering at 9pm ET/PT, the latest in Syfy’s four straight weeks of June original movie premieres (following last week’s Jersey Shore Shark Attack). It was pretty hilarious (even more so than usual for a movie of this sort) to watch the attack scenes when I had to use my imagination in many instances to see what sort of damage the title creature would be inflicting. And given the amount of SFX production notes (“fill in severed limb,” etc.), and sudden green-screen disappearances of actors I saw, it seems that there will be a lot of those scenes, so any of you who were disappointed that JSSA did not have enough attacks and gore should be appeased by Piranhaconda, based on what I could ascertain. This is Syfy going back to its bread-and-butter — a monster on the rampage, killing a lot of people. There are elements of parody and self-recognition (“I can’t believe you just said that” mutters one character when another first calls the creature a “piranhaconda”), but not to the point of being completely humorous and self-referential, like JSSA was.

The gore and “monster-on-the-loose” concept are nothing new from a Roger Corman production. Corman has been bringing these types of low-budget hybrid films featuring bikini-clad babes and monsters to viewers for decades before there was a Syfy channel. He most recently worked with the network on the popular Sharktopus, and Piranhaconda may even outdo that monstrous mash-up.

I can say that  because the Piranhaconda was not entirely missing from my advance screener, even though I was unable to confirm all of its gruesome kills. There were a number of instances when the effects for the monster were completed, and I have to say, that along with Piranhaconda being my personal all-time favorite title for a Syfy movie, I think that he (and she; watch the movie to find out more on this!) is my favorite Syfy monster to this point (I voted for it last year in Syfy’s March Monster Madness online game over a year before this film was even released, I just loved the concept of the creature so much).

The plot, if it matters, concerns a low-budget film crew working on a slasher film in Hawaii. Several of the crew members end up kidnapped by mercenaries who hope to claim a ransom from their studio. Also kidnapped by the mercenaries is a herpetologist (Michael Madsen, probably here only for the trip to Hawaii; same might be said for Rachel Hunter, who plays one of the mercenaries with her own quick little backstory of being a former stripper!). The herpetologist tries to warn them all that he was on his way out of the jungle to alert people to the existence of the Piranhaconda, but no one believes him until a bunch of people start being eaten by said creature, which is seen early and often by the audience (no Jaws-like suspense here). Somehow, this evolutionary cross between a piranha and an anaconda (if the title wasn’t clear enough) has managed to develop in a place where, as far as I know, neither piranhas nor anacondas (or snakes of any sort) exist. Oh, Roger Corman!

If, in addition to not having enough gore, you also thought Jersey Shore Shark Attack was too tightly edited and plotted for a Syfy original, you’ll be happy with Piranhaconda, which just pretty much has various people wandering around the supposed “wilds” of Hawaii (though it’s clear that they are never very far from whatever resort they filmed this at) being eaten on occasion, and does drag in spots when the Piranhaconda isn’t around. Thankfully, he (and she) happens to be slithering around nearly everywhere at all times, especially when convenient for the script.

It’s clear that Piranhaconda was likely one of those concepts, like Sharktopus, that may have originated with a cool name and had a script retro-fitted around it. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the creature is high-concept, and in both cases they were. Neither monster is asked to do much more than eat people and look cool, and the Piranhaconda certainly hits its mark each time in these respects.

(If you want to experience Piranhaconda and Sharktopus in their “offscreen” personas, they will each be live-tweeting the premiere of Piranhaconda on Twitter: @Piranhaconda; @Sharktopus2010).

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