According to Lance Henriksen
, making this movie was the most trying time in his life production-wise. The film's European producer Ovidio G. Assonitis
wanted to spend only 300,000 dollars on the film (even though he had made a deal for 500,000), which meant that they had to cut cost wherever they could. The original director of the film was Miller Drake
, who had started his career in Roger Corman
movies, but disagreements over the script caused him to be fired. Production was a mess, with replacement director James Cameron
, who had been working as special effects supervisor for Corman, having to make a number of the flying piranha rubber models himself. Henriksen was told that they couldn't afford a uniform for his character and that he should play the role in his own plain clothes, to which Henriksen objected, insisting that a harbor patrolman couldn't do his job without a uniform as if he's some plain clothes undercover cop. The situation was resolved when Henriksen noticed a sharp dressed waiter the same size as him, and asked him to sell his uniform for 75 bucks of his own money. He also had to use whale-shaped pins as his police badge and epaulets that showed his rank. Additionally, Henriksen had to carve the wooden gun in his holster by himself.
As Cameron wanted an explosive finale, he added to the script that Henriksen's character jumps out of a helicopter to save his drowning family. The helicopter was a Jamaican police helicopter used to chase drug smugglers and was piloted by a professional pilot. However, at one point a boat snuck under the chopper, almost hitting Henriksen's legs, so the pilot had to raise the chopper quickly, and in the maneuver, Cameron accidentally dropped the shooting camera into the sea, which was never recovered. Both Cameron and Henriksen considered themselves lucky to still be alive after that. Additionally, during his scripted jump, Henriksen almost broke an arm and his boots immediately started filling up with water as soon as he landed, so he almost drowned.
To make matters worse, producer Assonitis didn't like the way that Cameron was shooting and fired him as well, taking over the directorial duties himself. However, when he presented his version of the film to Warner Bros., they didn't like it and decided not to distribute the film. The movie was only released two years later by a smaller company that normally distributed pornographic films. Years later, a different distributor allowed Cameron to create his own cut. Henriksen thought that the fact that they accepted Cameron's version of the film was a clear sign that Cameron was an outlier with big future in the movie business. They became good friends and worked on two films, The Terminator
(1984) and Aliens
(1986). Drake and Cameron would later work together again on movies like Terminator 2: Judgment Day
(1991). See more
The Japanese release is longer than the "R" rated U.S. release, and features the gratuitous nude scenes, extra dialogue and character development, extended sequences, and a bit of extra gore. See more