Piranha II: The Spawning

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Creature Feature History

Piranha II: The Spawning

piranha2When constructing a list of the most influential film-makers in history, it would be hard to overlook James Cameron. The multi-award winning writer/ director has created some of the most creative, thrilling and financially successful films in living memory including The Terminator, Aliens, Terminator 2, Titanic and Avatar.

Yet the famously hard to work with Canadian who single-handedly ushered in the new era of stereoscopic 3D, came from rather humble beginnings. Like many successful industry professionals today, Cameron was a graduate of “The Corman Film School” and began his career as a model maker and SFX cameraman for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures production company. It was his work for Corman which would lead to his big break and debut directorial gig.

The film in question was Piranha II: The Spawning and this is the story of James Cameron and his fishy first feature film.

A scuba diver instructor must team up with her biochemist boyfriend and her police chief ex-husband in order to get to the bottom of a series of mysterious murders. However, their investigation leads them to a sunken ship in the Caribbean Sea which is home to a swarm of mutated flying piranha!

Although this story doesn’t start with Cameron; instead, and like a lot of creature feature stories, it begins with Jaws.
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Grizzly II: The Concert

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Creature Feature History

Grizzly II: The Concert

grizzly2There are many creature features with strange and/or questionable origins but none are more elusive than the unfinished and unreleased killer bear movie, Predator: The Concert, or as it is known informally, Grizzly 2.

Last month, I interviewed David Sheldon, the writer/ producer of Grizzly and Grizzly 2, and you can read that article here. But I feel like the bizarre story deserves embellishment and requires its own history so with the information provided by Mr Sheldon, this is the definitive history behind the production of Predator: The Concert.

This is the true story of Grizzly 2.

The original idea for Grizzly was born from the imagination of screenwriter Harvey Flaxman. Based on a scary experience he had on a family camping trip, Flaxman developed the screenplay with his friend David Sheldon. After only a few weeks of work, the completed script caught the eye of Sheldon’s film-making partner William Girdler who offered to get the film financed in return for directing the picture. Sheldon put aside his original desire to film the project and after Girdler succeeded in securing the film’s budget, the movie began production in the mountains of Georgia.
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The Snake King’s Child

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Cambodia’s Creature Features

Part II: The Snake King’s Child

The Snake King's Child

The Snake King’s Child

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge and when the Vietnamese-backed People’s Republic took control, cinemas were re-opened showing foreign films from Vietnam, the Soviet Union, Hindi films from India and action movies from Hong Kong. However the steady diet of pro-Soviet films focused on class struggles and socialist realism grew tiresome and Cambodian audiences demanded something with a more Cambodian flare.

Many sources wrongly state that The Snake King’s Child was the first feature film produced after the Khmer Rouge, whereas in actuality, Cambodian cinema actually resumed production of feature films in 1980 – 1 year after the end of the Khmer Regime and 21 years before TSKC’s release. The distinction of being the very first post-Regime Cambodian film belongs to My Mother is Arb (Kon Aeuy Madhi Ahp or Krasue Mom).

MMiA follows a young man who discovers that his mother is secretly an Arb/ Arp (a ghost with a woman’s head connected only to her viscera) and whilst pretending to her that he doesn’t know, living in the fear that his is in danger, his future is in jeopardy and that his mother’s secret may be discovered by others. MMiA was heavily based on Khmer folklore and after the attempted cultural erasure of the Khmer Regime, was very popular. Continue reading

The Snake King’s Wife

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Cambodia’s Creature Features

Part I: The Snake King’s Wife

snakekingswifeCambodia is a small country in Southeast Asia that borders Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. During the 50’s and 60’s, Cambodian film production and cinema was a booming industry with millions of patrons flooding to the big cities to watch the latest Cambodian hits.

One of the most financially successful and critically acclaimed movies of this period was the creature feature The Snake King’s Wife (Puos Keng Kang)). Produced in 1971 and based around the popular Cambodian myth of a Snake Goddess, TSKW was unlike anything that Cambodia had ever seen and the plot goes a little something like this:

A young villager has an affair with the Snake King (a shape shifting python) which results in her getting pregnant. When her husband finds out, he murders her which caused her to give birth to hundreds of baby snakes. The husband attempts to kill all the snakes but one escapes and is transformed into a human baby by a local hermit. The child, Veasna, grows up to be a very handsome man and falls in love with a wealthy man’s daughter, Soriya. Despite being turned back into a snake by a witch hired by the daughter’s stepmother (jealous as she is also madly in love with Vaesna), they get married and have a child, Cantra. Cursed by the witch to have snakes instead of hair (a gorgon, by Greek standards), Cantra seeks revenge on the witch when her father is turned to stone and her mother succumbs to psychosis. After burning the witch alive, all of the curses are lifted with Vaesna and Soriya returning to normal and Cantra’s snakes becoming long, beautiful hair. Continue reading

Thunder of Gigantic Serpent

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CREATURE FEATURE HISTORY

Thunder of Gigantic Serpent

There are plenty of articles online reviewing Thunder of Gigantic Serpent and analysing its bizarre Frankenstein existence. Whilst they’re not wrong to marvel at the alien editing and laugh at the appalling English dubbing, few actually try to explain the complex history of how something this bizarre comes into being. But I’m a glutton for punishment and Thunder of Gigantic Serpent has inspired me to start a new column: Creature Feature History.

In each CFH article, I’m going to find the most bizarre and interesting stories from the creature feature world and present them to you in the simplest fashion possible. Today’s article will focus on the history of TOGS and its equally grammatically-challenged ancestor King of Snake.

kingofsnakeKing of Snake is a Taiwanese monster movie released in 1984 under the Taiwanese title Daai Se Wong. The only notable cast and crew members are Danny Lee as Dr Li who started as Ultraman in the titular series and Tarcy Su as Ting Ting who would go on to have a successful pop career. My copy of KOS in Taiwanese Mandarin Chinese with no subtitles and I have been unable to find any other versions.

To say nothing else, KOS is impressively unique and despite my complete lack of knowledge of Taiwanese Mandarin Chinese, here’s what I could figure is going on: Continue reading