Over Memorial Day weekend (or is it Labor Day? I can never remember. It’s always an excuse to sell furniture, cars, clothes, and so forth and the purpose of the holiday is lost…if there ever was a real reason to begin with) a friend of my girlfriend, who is a very nice guy and only comes to town every so often, mentioned going to see Piranha 3-D. I, always up for a good horror film and a chance to eat theater popcorn, agreed to go. As a child I was a fan of the first two Piranha films, especially Piranha II: The Spawning, which was directed by James Cameron. I know this recent incarnation of the Piranha series doesn’t have flying, air breathing fish, but most any horror flick in 3-D is at least entertaining; Piranha 3-D delivered. It’s not intelligent or even somewhat clever, but it’s fun. It contains a large variety of blood and nudity – enough to give any 13 year old American boy masturbation material for at least the ride home before they go on YouPorn and find something more pornographic.
The film takes place in a small town called Lake Victoria in what seems like southern Arizona. Going into the full details of the plot isn’t really important – it’s a pretty inane film. It takes place during Spring Break and a large group of privileged, white college students are partying like we’re not in a recession and two wars. An underwater earthquake opens a chasm between Lake Victoria and another lake underneath, unleashing a swarm of prehistoric piranhas ready to eat. The film’s protagonist Jake (Steven McQueen), a high school student and awkward teenager ends up working for a soft-core pornographic company called Wild Wild Girls (ripping off Girls Gone Wild), leading to a good deal of underwater nudity and other silly naked moments. Eventually the piranhas make it to the beach and kill tons of people. There’s nothing much to say about the plot other than that. The film is an excuse to revel in the American tradition of silver screen tits and gore, which isn’t always a bad thing.
I’m convinced the writers of the film, Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, were creating a revenge fantasy against Greek college organizations. I didn’t really see anybody that would be in an honors program celebrating at the lake and it’s possible these two were picked on heavily as children, using Piranha 3-D to exact some form of revenge. Then again, maybe they just know what sells and wrote a cheap B-movie that puts asses in seats because of tits, blood, and corny 3-D effects. Whatever the reason, a good deal of hospitality management and business majors are eaten by the piranhas. Although I thought the nudity was a bit excessive and only there to entice teenagers to sneak in, the gore was top notch. The digital gore effects were cheesy, but this is nothing new and films like Machete (which I liked) and Survival of the Dead feature computerized violence that doesn’t match anything done with traditional effects. However, the film is teeming with traditional make-up effects. Everything from chewed off limbs to missing eyeballs is shown, all done with latex and all excellent.
Piranha 3-D does contain a great deal of hilarious moments, and I’m fairly certain they weren’t included accidentally. It’s the kind of film that pokes fun at itself and director Alexandre Aja uses all the tools of his arsenal quick effectively. For instance, there’s a scene where a prominent character’s penis is bit off and a piranha eats it underwater. I couldn’t help but laugh because it was so absurd. Any film that contains a lost penis being eaten and then thrown back up by a killer fish isn’t taking itself too seriously. There were also a few funny lines, especially Eli Roth’s, “look at these weapons of mass…turbation,” when hosting a wet t-shirt contest. Yes it’s insipid, but it’s something that caused me to laugh. I’m not a big fan of Roth, but this was a good use of his, especially because he gets his. The film also features a good deal of notable actors including Elizabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O’Connell, Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers), Richard Dreyfuss, and a few more. There are a bunch of teen actors I’m not really familiar with, but after looking them up on IMDB found out they were on shows like Gossip Girls and The Vampire Diaries.
Personally, I feel this isn’t my best review, but I’m a little rusty and felt that reviewing a cheesy movie like Piranha 3-D is a good way to get back into the swing of things. Below is the trailer.