James Cameron: Ranking His Films From Worst To Best

8. Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)

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What else was it going to be? Even the biggest names in Hollywood need to start somewhere, and this low-budget sequel to Joe Dante's 1978 cult hit will forever be remembered as the directorial debut of James Cameron. After cutting his teeth as art director on Battle Beyond the Stars and providing effects work on Escape from New York, the 26 year old Canadian was promoted from his post as Piranha II's special effects director when original helmer Miller Drake was fired from the project. The director's first foray behind the camera was a disastrous one. With a budget of less than $150,000 (a far cry from what he now gets to play with), financial constraints saw the crew filled primarily of Italians that couldn't speak English which caused countless communication problems, and Cameron was constantly at loggerheads with the producers about the tone of the final product, with rumors abounding that the director even broke into the editing room to assemble his own cut of the movie before he was caught. Unsurprisingly, the end result is pretty awful. The special effects are laughably bad and the behind-the-scenes battles make for a poorly-edited finished product. Initially disowning the movie, Cameron has softened his stance over time and now jokingly refers to Piranha II: The Spawning as 'the best flying piranha film ever made'. After watching his debut feature, it's hard to imagine that this was one of the most promising young directors of the decade.

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