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'Piranhaconda' Director Lashes Out at Critic

by Matt Singer
June 20, 2012 9:44 AM
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Jim Wynorski is the epitome of a show business veteran. He's been making exploitation flicks for more than three decades. You can debate his films' merits, but their titles are beyond reproach: brilliant gems like "Chopping Mall," "The Bare Wench Project," "Dinocroc Versus Supergator," "The Da Vinci Coed," and -- my personal favorite -- ""Busty Cops Go Hawaiian." His directorial aliases are great too, not to mention legion. Over the years he's been credited as "Tom Popatopolous," "Thaddeus Wickwire," "Noble Henry," "Harold Blueberry," and many more.

Popatopolous's Wickwire's Henry's Blueberry's Wynorski's latest project boasts another killer title: "Piranhaconda," a SyFy Channel movie produced by Roger Corman. For a monster flick about a hybrid killer fish-snake, "Piranhaconda" got pretty good reviews; The New York Times even called it "an amiable, unapologetically crude gigglefest."  But one pan at Dread Central by critic Scott Foy set Wynorski off on a rampage of piranhacondanian proportions.

Foy's two out of five star review looked harmless to me -- particularly since it ran two days after "Piranhaconda" aired on SyFy -- but not to Wynorski. First, he responded in the article's Facebook Comments thread with a simple but blunt "Fuck You." Then things got really ugly; Wynorski proceeded to deliver seven more eff yous to Dread Central readers who came to Foy's aide or express their own dissatisfaction with "Piranhaconda." He didn't stop there either; he also called one guy a jerk-off and told him to stay the fuck out of his way and basically wished another commenter dead:

"Fuck you, Duane, you wouldn't know an honest review from a hole in the ground; which by the way is where I hope you end up more sooner than later."

Now I'm not in public relations, but from what I understand, it's never a good idea to tell your audience you want them to die.

Responding to questions about why he was freaking out over a single bad review when one would assume the director of "The Witches of Breastwick" has received his share of negative notices over the years, Wynorski explained that Foy's assessment was based on him and not the film and that "considering all the digs against me directly in the review, it's obviously [sic] Mr. Foy set out to trash me personally." He intimated that Foy held some sort of grudge against him, and didn't judge "Piranhaconda" fairly.

Foy himself then entered the comment fray to note that he'd given positive reviews to several Wynorski films, including "The Return of Swamp Thing" and "Deathstalker II," and to concede that he had once written a review of one of Wynorski's so harsh he later regretted its tone and amended it. He doesn't name the piece in question, but digging through his archives, I found this review on Wynorski's "KvC: Komodo Versus Cobra," which begins with the following introduction:

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to say farewell to the late Jim Wynorski. No, the prolific b-movie auteur is still alive, but after sitting through his newest film, 'KvC: Komodo vs. Cobra,' I swear to God if I ever meet the man, I just might kill him."

Now I'm not in conflict mediation, but from what I understand, telling someone you hate their work so much you want to kill them because of it is never a good way to improve interpersonal relationships.

Maybe everyone involved in this incident, critic and director alike, needs to take a deep breath. Maybe everyone involved could stand to treat each other with just a smidge more civility. And maybe everyone involved needs to remember they're bickering over a hybrid killer fish-snake movie. I'm glad Wynorski takes his work seriously -- but isn't his work specifically designed not to be taken seriously? There are ways to critique a film -- and to respond to that critique -- without resorting to personal attacks. Let's leave those to the piranhacondas, please.

Thanks to C. Robert Cargill -- a.k.a. Massawyrm -- for the heads-up on this story.

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More: Jim Wynorski, Scott Foy, Piranhaconda


  • Michael C. | July 6, 2012 2:57 AMReply

    I don't see any winners in this arguement. I find Mr. Wynorski's movies entertaining. I don't think he exploits women as one respondent mentioned. Exploiting someone to me is when you use crass or offensive terms unnecessarily repeatedly, like when rappers refer to women as "bitches" and "hoes". One gets the feeling they are generalizing all women with these labels. The actresses in Mr. Wynorski's films are participating in the movie. They aren't being objected to anything unseemly. You have a few bikini-clad ladies who serve as dinner for the monstrous creatures. How are they being exploited? One must be in a situation where they are either being somewhat pigeon-holed, offended outright such as the way women are portrayed in some music, or like when Megan Fox got tired of Michael Bay's sad attempts at linking her legs to the storyline.

    As for the feud between the critic and the director, I think it did get a little bit out of hand on both ends and they should call it a wash. Honestly, I'd watch any of Mr. Wynorski's movies over Michael Bay, Joel Schumacher, or Nicolas Cage flicks.

  • Tom Betts | June 22, 2012 10:53 PMReply

    Jim Wynorski has said the same things to me in a joking way and I take them as they are given. When a critic goes beyond criticizing a movie and starts to go after the director then I feel Jim is responding to a personal attack. Since the critic mentioned once before he would like to kill Jim i feel Jim's response was also a bit of pent up rage for this particular person for his previous attack. People should remember that Jim is usually given a small budget, works with often one star actor and a bunch of no names or lesser actors and is told by the producer and often SyFy what they want. Jim ALWAYS delivers a decent if not better than average product no mater what the subject is. This shows me he's one hell of a broad range director. I'd like to see what he could do with some star talent and a Hollywood budget. Go get 'em Jimbo.

  • higgles | June 22, 2012 1:01 PMReply

    Some films are tripe, it`s just the way it is and there`s no point a director complaining after people identify their works as such. Excuses don`t matter either. I`ve seen terrible movies with a huge budget that are tripe and movies with a tiny budget that are very good and vice versa. Jim Wynorski comes off as a bit of a child having a tantrum quite frankly. After all it`s ScyFy production which isn`t normally the greatest hallmark of cinematic excellence. Personally I love cheesy movies, I grew up with them but after seeing this debacle I for one won`t watch this movie because you have now tainted your own product with your foolish comments. You`re not alone, modern social media is replete with stars, directors, politicians all making an horses arse of themselves yet they fail to see it every time and it chips away at any credibility they have.

  • higgles | June 22, 2012 1:15 PM

    Just to clarify, having said all that I suddenly remembered that there have been other movies with a similar `background flavour` that I ended up ignoring and eneded up watching so who knows maybe I just ranted without thinking which kind of proves the point I made about just turning off your computer and stop typi...............

  • Jim Wynorski | June 21, 2012 6:18 PMReply

    So Gerald2281. If you're going to condemn me, don't you think it would be reasonable to include your real name? Not just an internet nom de plume that conceals your identity? And no matter what context it was used in, the word 'retard' is not the type of word to be used cavalierly in any review, no matter what movie it quotes. I didn't laugh at it in Tropic Thunder, and I'm not laughing now - and neither are tens of thousands of mentally handicapped people around the world. You can laugh it off, but I most certainly can not!

    I can name several other motion pictures with equally base words and phrases that also should be kept out of reviews as well. Just because they're used in a movie, doesn't make them right for other circumstances.

  • Muh | December 28, 2012 2:13 PM

    Damn, I wish I had seen this earlier. Wynorski, you clearly don't give a shit about what you make, so don't get defensive. Retarded is a pretty nice thing to say about your mongoloid work.

  • Gerald2281 | June 22, 2012 3:26 AM

    Mr. Wynorski, I in no way condemned you. I said there was blame on both sides but obviously you decided to gloss over whatever points I tried to make to fuel your fires. This is obviously pointless and that's a shame because I am a fan of your work. I never thought someone who could create Cleavagefield and The Bare Wench Project could be offended by any word, and also lack a sense of humor to the degree that you do. The word "retard" is used in an exploitative manner very often, right or wrong, funny or not. In your movies you exploit women (right or wrong, funny or not) from the title of the flick all the way to the end credits. Is there really such a vast difference in terms of good or bad taste from using a word some may find offensive or objectifying a woman to the degree that some may find offensive? That being said, I'm done pissing in the wind and wont be commenting further. Have your last word and I hope you enjoy every syllable. Oh, and before you get in a tizzy about my screen name again even though you yourself have used many names throughout your career, my last name is Handleman. 2-2-81 is my birthday. Looking forward to your next feature despite everything said and done.

  • Jim Wynorski | June 21, 2012 1:18 PMReply

    Duane, I still maintain that anyone who uses the word 'retard' in a review should not be reviewing anything but a list of ways on how to act responsibly in print. 'Snark' is one thing, but Foy goes way beyond whatever you think that term means. He is a low class writer who takes pot shots way below the belt. I felt it was high time to 'review the reviewer' and make it clear that no one - even Foy - is beyond criticism.

  • Gerald2281 | June 21, 2012 3:03 PM

    Going back over the review in question, the usage of the word "retard" was in reference to the movie Tropic Thunder which is known for the phrase "Going full retrad." The reviewer never directed the word at anyone or anything in particular. And again, he's given movies of yours positive reviews AFTER the whole "death threat" thing (for which the reviewer clearly states he was joking. We've all made false threats in our lives. Weren't you joking when you were wishing death on Duane? If so you never apologized or insinuated that your words were in jest) the reviewer in question has gone on to even praise your work ...

    Stating things like "the most enjoyable movie Jim Wynorski has made in close to the last twenty years."

    "The relatively bloodless nature of the monster-on-human action will no doubt disappoint some. I, however, found this approach gave me a warm feeling, harkening back to the milder monster movies of the glory days of cinema. Monster movies don't always have to be a bloodbath."

    "Cry of the Winged Serpent still sports a solid storyline, above average special effects, peppy dialogue, and playful performances. I give the man his due on this one."

    The writer even stated that you sent him a thank you note afterward. Now don't get me wrong, neither side is without some blame here, but Jim, with all of your experience in the business and the wisdom that has no doubt come with age, your actions here accomplished nothing but embarrassment for all parties concerned with you bearing the lion's share of it.

  • Duane Ullery | June 20, 2012 11:34 PMReply

    I'd like to chime in here. I'm the "Duane" mentioned in the quote above.

    Personally, I think the entire thing was fairly ludicrous, but entertaining in that whole " wow, I honestly never thought I'd see something quite like this" kind of way.

    As to the death, no worries. I once had someone online (on Rotten Tomatoes, as I recall) express a desire for me to die violently for absolutely no other reason than I expressed the opinion that Spiderman 2 is an overall better film than The Dark Knight. It's the Internet. It happens.

    What's really ironic is that I not only enjoyed Wynorski's Chopping Mall , but I also enjoyed the sequel Return of Swamp thing so much that I purchased the DVD a some years ago. So it isn't as if I'm not a fan of his work. It's simply that- having been on Dread Central as an active member for over two years and read a multitude of Foy's articles - I don't perceive his comments in regards to Foy's personal grudge towards him as having any merit. Foy uses a fair amount of snark in his prose. It's par of his style. As I mentioned at one point during this ridiculous debacle , Foy recently laid down a thorough trashing of The Asylum film "Alien Origin" , yet nobody involved with that film jumped online and accused him of having a personal bias against them or The Asylum.

    It's part and parcel of the industry: Like it or not, movies get mediocre to bad reviews sometimes. It hurts, but anyone who wants to make movies for a living needs to deal with that as a mature, conscientious adult or find another line of work because that is one aspect of film that will never change

    As to the rest..well, what can I say? My comments were admittedly acidic. I'm something of a cynic, I've always had a tendency towards sarcasm and I don't respect the manner in which this man conducted himself. For that I offer no regret nor apology...but neither do I wish him dead.

  • Jim Wynorski | June 20, 2012 8:12 PMReply

    Matt Singer, you are the man. I truly enjoyed your article. With all my credits and longevity, I've never felt the need to lash out at any critic. But when faced with Scott Foy's rather ugly review of PIRANHACONDA, taking pot shots at me more than film, I decided - what the hell - this guy has threatened to kill me in print once before, why not go after him like he goes after me. So I promised I'd stay with DREAD CENTRAL for 24 hours - going after Foy and anyone else who stepped up to the plate with a brickbat. And as you see, reviewers don't like to be reviewed themselves. I thank you for your kind, voice-of-reason commentary.

  • Scott Foy | June 20, 2012 4:30 PMReply

    Just to give you an idea how ridiculous this whole thing is, the very next directed by Wynorski I reviewed after my admittedly excessive Komodo vs. Cobra review was a movie I gave 3 1/2 out of 5, called it the best movie Wynorski made in 20 years, and even got a personal message from Wynorski himself thanking me for the kind words. Since then every movie of his I have reviewed has either gotten a 2 or a 2 1/2. Even communicated with him several times on a now defunct message board during that time and had no cross words the man. I know if I made a movie called Piranhaconda and managed to get a positive review from the New York Times I sure as hell wouldn't care what someone like me thought about it.

  • Gerald2281 | June 20, 2012 3:02 PMReply

    You should also have printed the second paragraph of Foy's review which reads:

    “Okay, threatening to kill Wynorski is excessive and of course I am joking, but I’m going to warn everyone right now - this isn’t going to be a pleasant review. "

    Kind of spins things in a bit of a different light, no?

  • Thuan Dang | June 22, 2012 5:56 AM

    Being self-aware you are going to act like a dick doesn't make you any less of a dick.

  • TIPCEE | June 20, 2012 4:43 PM

    You bring up a good point.

  • TIPCEE | June 20, 2012 2:08 PMReply

    Matt, I don't know you, but I give this article four stars, only to make a point. Who care's what one critic says about your work. It's better then someone clicking like on Facebook. At least you got a detailed opinion. He could of just said, "Jim, this movie sucks Harold's BlueBerries."

  • Kelly | June 20, 2012 10:21 AMReply

    In the immortal words of the late Rodney King,"Can we all get along?" ...Actually, I think they should just mud wrestle over it.

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