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.