Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Piranha 3DD

Piranha 3DD (2012)
Dir. John Gulager
Written by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, Joel Soisson
Starring no one, but with cameos by Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey, Clu Gulager, David Koechner, Ving Rhames, Paul Scheer, and David Hasselhoff.

I actually sort of loved Alexandre Aja’s 2010 3D schlockfest PIRANHA 3D, which surprised me by striking the exact perfect campy-but-deadpan tone necessary for this sort of genre gorefest. After the fairly grim HAUTE TENSION and profoundly grim THE HILLS HAVE REMAKES, I could hardly believe that this arty Frenchman so perfectly understood the brisk, outrageously bloody vibe that something like a PIRANHA sequel lives and dies on. The pace was a little off, and some of its premises were underexploited, but I couldn’t fault it’s frequent gimmicky deaths and winning cartoonishness. Still, I can’t say I saw much of a point in revisiting the same material again, except smaller, cheaper, and straight-to-DVD. If you’re gonna do a cheapie cash grab sequel to a movie which was at best a mild pleasure, you’re gonna need a way better hook than “Piranhas eat people in a swimming pool.” SyFy raised the bar on that kind of crap when they started inventing their own animals, such as SHARKTOPUS and DINOGATOR and possibly SKUNKTOSAUR vs GORILLAPHANT if not yet than in the very near future.

But, for the smaller, cheaper, more unnecessary sequel, this one ain’t all that bad. It has a few pretty clever gimmicks, including but not limited to an exploding cow, a vagina piranha, a decapitation that comes to rest amidst a bountiful pair of the title characters (not the piranhas), a pitchfork impalement, an ass piranha, and Gary Busey biting off a piranha’s head and spitting it at the camera in 3-D. None of that tastelessness was strictly necessary for them to make the same negligible amount of money they were going to make on it anyway, so fair’s fair, nice work guys. You also get some credit for, in true B-movie fashion, getting all those cameos for one day of shooting apiece (Clu Gulager is director John’s dad I guess, so maybe he was easier to rope into this sort of nonsense).

Two things, though, make this sequel obviously inferior to the original remake.* For one, it can’t match the spectacle of the original remake bloodbath, which they make the mistake of actually showing us here to remind us how wimpy their climax looks by comparison. Piranhas in a water park is a fun idea, but in practice it becomes obvious that there’s nowhere in the entire park where you’re more than 3 feet from the sides, so they quickly run out of excuses for people to be eaten. Most of the funnier deaths are near the start or middle of the movie, and the climax doesn’t have nearly enough heft to compensate (in fact, the two most memorable deaths of the final bloodbath are not piranha-related at all). It doesn’t help that they also maintain the previous film’s stupid idea of making the main characters the least fun people anywhere on screen. We’re supposed to be rooting for the two characters who are constantly whining to everyone else that they’re having too much fun? Lame. Even though Koechner is technically the villain, I’m more inclined to root for him because he’s at least more entertaining to watch than these goody-two-shoes spoilsports.

The other problem is that after a good Busey-centric start, the movie gradually turns too jokey for its own good. A guy chopping his dick off to prevent the piranha gnawing on it from... reaching his balls, i guess, is a gleefully mordant joke. Turning the last 20 minutes into a series of dated Baywatch-cliches parodies is just kind of pathetic and desperate. Who besides Werner Herzog has even seen an episode of Baywatch this decade? Towards the end, things lurch from campy horror to broad comedy and the mild level of interest it’s been able to sustain up until that point quickly diminishes. To it’s credit, though, it does end with a final jokey twist which almost rivals the “where are the parents?” joke from the end of the 2010 version. That alone is enough to qualify it as a resounding “not as bad as it could have been.”  

PS: Check out Dan P's review over at his blog -- 

* Fun fact: every time someone types the phrase “sequel to the original remake” I die a little on the inside.


BOOBIES: Yeah, they've got boobies, but to tell you the truth not too many memorable ones. And I only remember like one set of 3D-DDs in the whole thing.

> or = HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS LEVEL GORE: Enough to count, I suppose.
SEQUEL: Yep, sequel to original remake, possibly sequel to the original two.
OBSCURITY LEVEL: Mid. DTV, but well-publicized for this sort of thing.
MONSTERS: Piranahas, but not really.