First, let’s just take a look at that title. Can any movie possibly live up to it? It promises a Piranha Man. It promises a Wolf Man. It promises a fight between the two. And it has an entirely superfluous tagline that suggests that this whole production is going to be a lot of goofy fun.
But it’s not. Oh sure, the costumes are just as awful as you might be thinking. (No.. more awful than that.) And we do inevitably see the promised fight between our titular creatures, but it’s.. Well, remember Al Adamson’s DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN? And how it was really terrible, and you were just waiting for the two monsters to start fighting? But, when it happened it was sort of boring? Yeah, that about sums it up. Seeing two guys in dollar-store masks pawing at each other might sound like a fun five minute YouTube video, but when it’s the culmination of a 70 minute (almost) feature, it can’t help but be a letdown.
And it’s not that PIRANHA MAN VERSUS WOLF MAN is an awful movie. It’s actually quite competently made, with some really impressive editing managing to hide the threadbare nature of the production (and the creatures in particular). It looks quite good, with a variety of locations and even a few tricky shots that are well beyond the purview of most No-Budget nasties. It even has some terrific acting, particularly from Carrie Long as reporter Lexi Glass and Ian Hinck as the lovesick Denny.
But it’s the story that sinks things. It’s a passable slasher movie for the first half hour, punctuated by a reporter’s search for an apparent serial killer, but then an overwhelming amount of back-story gets added to the mix. Just gobs of nonsense about the reporter’s father getting stranded on an island and doing cocaine, while a nearby Russian nuclear sub capsizes due to a werewolf attack. It appears that these flashbacks were part of the original, shorter concept for the film; but were worked into the plot when the decision was made to go (nearly) full length. The result is, as the trailer for the film states, CONFUSING!
Sadly, there was real potential for something interesting in the plot. There are countless story threads that are established, but don’t go anywhere. Denny’s in a band, and – in one the film’s most amusing scenes – doesn’t notice when his roomate (and bandmate) tries to seduce him, since he’s hung up on Carrie. It doesn’t go anywhere, aside from providing a few more victims for the WOLF MAN. We get a sense of competitiveness in the newsroom when a stuck-up reporter is given Lexi’s job covering the serial killer story, but it ends up being another dead end. There’s even a bit where the entire newsroom gets turned into zombies but.. nothing comes of it. Just lots of false starts which keep the film from gaining momentum.
Don’t be fooled by a trailer that promises grindhouse thrills and buckets of gore. The violence in PIRANHA MAN VERSUS WOLF MAN is strictly of the tomato sauce variety, while the plot takes the form of a toothless mystery, with a twist that lands with a dull thud. Intentionally silly special effects require a deft pace and a light hand, but the tone here is inconsistent, and the plot becomes nearly impossible to follow in the final twenty minutes. While nothing could have really lived up to that wonderfully lurid title (or the MONSTER BRAWL-ish poster art), the biggest crime here is that the movie simply isn’t very fun. A disappointment.
Four Nightmare out of Five = Not Much Fun
One Nightmare – No-Budget Perfection, Two Nightmares – Shocking Success, Three Nightmares – Shows Potential, Four Nightmares – Not Much Fun, Five Nightmares – Please Kill Me
- [NO-BUDGET NIGHTMARES] PODCAST #80: PLAGA ZOMBIE (1997) - July 25, 2016