Between this and my last review, of The Expendables, it seems I’m on my way to becoming Shooting the Scripts go-to-guy for lowbrow film reviews… and I’m ok with that… as long as the “lowbrow” films I review continue to be as entertaining as The Expendables and Piranha 3D.
Long before I even saw the trailer for Piranha 3D I heard a key phrase that had me sold (it wasn’t “starring Adam Scott,” though I am fond of his work, and not just because we have the same name), “Piranha 3D might be the bloodiest movie ever.” SOLD. That phrase should tell you exactly what to expect… if the title doesn’t already…
The Piranha oeuvre (yeah, I went there) was never meant to be taken seriously. The entire series was made as a tongue-in-cheek response to Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws (one of my all-time personal favorites).And as such, Piranha 3D stays pretty close to the “source material.” After a massive underwater tremor creates a fissure beneath the surface of Lake Victoria, a school of prehistoric, man-eating piranha is unleashed on the idyllic desert community… just in time for Spring Break. Anyone expecting a serious dramatic take may have missed the point. Yes, it’s schlock… it’s supposed to be. Schlock isn’t a bad thing when it’s intentional. And if you think it is, then you’re clearly not part of the target audience.
At the helm of this schlock-tastic voyage is Alexandre Aja, director of the promising High Tension and the wonderfully disturbing 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes. And while he seems to have traded in his usual solemn take on the macabre for something a bit more gleefully malevolent, he also ups the ante by increasing the gore exponentially. Aja and makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero have no problem cranking the blood and guts up to 11, so we can really get our gory locks a-shakin’. Heads are smashed. Limbs are torn. Eyes are gouged. Faces ripped off. No appendage is safe… Aja and Nicotero have no problem relishing in the carnage.
Of course, carnage alone does not a great B-movie make; you need debauchery too. And you can’t have spring break without nubile young co-eds taking beer bong hits, doing body shots, making bad decisions, and losing clothes even faster than brain cells. Not all the skin on the screen in Piranha 3D is being ripped to shreds… not initially anyway. In addition to Aja’s bevy of bikini clad beauties, there are the not-so-bikini-clad porn stars Riley Steele (no relation to Barbara Steele, who starred in the original Piranha) and Gianna Michaels. Steele plays one of the Wild Wild Girls, along with Kelly Brook, who engage in the somewhat notorious “naked underwater ballet.”
The Wild Wild Girls are “chaperoned” by the lecherous Derrick Jones, brought to life in all his obnoxious glory by the wonderful Jerry O’Connell (Scream 2, Joe’s Apartment, Stand By Me). Jones and the Wild Wild Girls, who are in no way indicative of Joe Francis and Girls Gone Wild, descend upon Lake Victoria to coax a little of that Spring Break debauchery out of some impressionable young co-eds on camera.
Jerry O’Connell isn’t the only standout performance in Piranha 3D. Elizabeth Shue, who has showed us before that she has no problem with tongue in cheek humor (Hamlet 2, Soapdish, Hollowman), plays the tough-as-nails, Sheriff Forester, who’s also a single mother of three. Ving Rhames plays the bad-ass Deputy Fallon, almost redeeming himself for the god-awful Day of the Dead remake… almost.
And of course, Adam Scott, as the seismologist brought in to investigate the fissure beneath the lake who discovers the piranhas and goes on an awesome jet-skiing, shotgun-wielding, piranha-killing rampage. Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd, and Eli Roth have some hilarious cameos. Steven R. McQueen (The Vampire Diaries) and Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl) keep the teen-aged lovers from becoming the cloying tripe they could have been in less capable hands, while still keeping the campy spirit of the film alive.
If you’re a fan of good old-fashioned B-movie schlock, then you’re in for a treat. Piranha 3D is a wonderfully campy good time, chock full of babes, boobs, blood, guts, gore, and prehistoric killer fish. Never taking itself seriously, Piranha 3D delivers exactly what you expect, which is also my only complaint about the film, it never exceeds my expectations. But, all in all, it’s still a fun flick. I look forward to the sequel, which is already rumored to be in the works.
Are you a fan of schlocky B-movie horror as well? What are some of your favorite B-movies of all time?