Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another late night at Club Elysium

There. I said it. And, I don't care what people think.

I had the DVD rotating in the disc changer and awakened to it at around 2am last night. I should have been gathering winks for my next day at work, but I found myself watching the entire film for the umpteenth time.

This is, of course, James Cameron's first film as director, and certainly the most lambasted. So many stories as to why. The production, alone, is the stuff of legend, so I won't get into any of that here.

For years, horror nuts like me only had the truncated U.S. version to watch on home video, via Embassy Home Entertainment, which was fine, until I saw the film on television with additional scenes and others in the correct order. A revelation for sure and it made for a stronger storyline, making sense where it didn't completely make sense before. Perhaps the truncated version is the one everyone has seen and hates. I dunno. But, even in that crude 84 minute version, I still love it. Not nearly as much as Joe Dante's original, which I spent many summer days and nights watching.

Fast forward to 2002, when Columbia TriStar decided to release it to DVD... I was stoked! Of course, I despised the horrible DVD cover art, but nonetheless, I had to have it. To my surprise, Columbia TriStar managed to unearth the complete, unedited international version with all those missing scenes (and the nude diver sequence presented as a prologue to the main credits). Goodbye 84 minutes and hello 93!

It puzzles me why people hate the film as much as they do. Perhaps, it's simply the comparison of these humble beginnings to what Cameron would later do in his career. This film delivers the goods and has "exploitation good time" written all over it. Flying piranha, folks! How could you hate any film with flying piranha?! Some say the concept is absurd, I say it's genius. And, why not? The first PIRANHA already introduced the idea of scientifically-engineered fresh water beasties.

The performances aren't too shabby, either. You've got the always awesome Lance Henriksen as chief of police. Nearly all his scenes are hilarious whenever he patronizes someone, particularly the captain who simply won't turn on his damned radio. "Turn on your radio, you jackass!" Priceless.

Tricia O'Neil is the true lead here and I always hoped she would do more, of course, PIRANHA II doesn't exactly scream street cred. She reminds me of a cross between Kay Lenz and Adrienne Barbeau. Can't go wrong there! (Note: Cameron later gave her a small role in TITANIC.)

And, the score by "Steve Powder" ...er, uh... Stelvio Cipriani is superb. An original score that doesn't borrow from Pino Donaggio's PIRANHA score, yet exists on it's own, beautifully. A nice companion piece to his earlier score for TENTACLES, by the way.

Henriksen will be attending this year's Texas Frightmare Weekend, and I'll be bringing my soundtrack album along for him to sign.
I hope he appreciates my geekdom!

(The sinister sounding German trailer)

No comments: