RUNNING TIME: 87 mins
REVEIWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
A year after the attack on Lake Victoria by prehistoric piranhas, an eradication campaign has left the lake uninhabitable by life, and the town itself has been largely abandoned as a result of the drying-up of their main revenue source, tourism. At a nearby lake, two farmers walk into the water to recover the body of a dead cow and are attacked and killed by a swarm of piranhas from eggs laid inside the body of the cow hatch. Meanwhile Maddy, a marine biology student, returns home for the Summer to the water park she co-owns. She finds to her horror that the other co-owner, her step-father Chet, plans to add an adult-themed section, with ‘water-certified strippers’, and re-open it as “Big Wet.” At a party at the water park that night, Maddy encounters several old acquaintances, including her policeman ex-boyfriend Kyle, Barry, who has secretly had a crush on her since grade-school, and two friends, Ashley and Shelby. However, it seems that some piranhas are intent on making food of people at the park…….
Piranha 3D, which only bore a loose resemblance to the 1978 movie called Piranha, was a classic example of what our HCF artist and sometime critic David Gillespie calls a ‘Great Beer Movie’, meaning a film that might very well be devoid of much artistic merit and is best enjoyed with a bunch of mates and a crate of beer. Surprisingly the film did not do very well at the box office so I was amazed when a sequel was announced. Well, here it is, and for a film I didn’t expect much from and expected to go straight to home viewing, it isn’t too bad, but I think many folk who enjoyed the first movie will be very disappointed by it. In sequels of this nature, you expect more of the same but Bigger and Bolder, and Piranha 3DD just does not really deliver that. If you are an unabashed fan of monster movies though like me, I reckon you will certainly get some enjoyment out of it if you lower your expectations.
Alexandre Aja decided not to make a sequel to his movie, so John Gulager, responsible for the Feast series which certainly have a considerable cult following but which I just don’t ‘get’, was given the job. It seems like he was constrained by what is obviously a far lower budget than the first movie. It seems even more that the production was rushed, because some parts of it are very well done and other parts are quite bad. The film is certainly nicely tight, with no fat whatsoever; it gets to the point immediately and refuses to waste any time afterwards. The opening scene with Gary Busey [who hardly seems to have changed at all] is good and has a few good jolts before the final shock, but it doesn’t match the Richard Dreyfuss sequence in the original, and that’s really the main problem; the film is fun but generally comes off second best. The piranhas attack people and attack more people, but most of the time the shaky, very close, camerawork ensures that you can’t really see very much. There is a few juicy bits of quick gruesomeness though, with heads, arms and other body parts often being severed, and there’s an enjoyably disgusting bit which I won’t go into detail about but you can surmise from the great line:
“Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina”.
Sadly, despite this film getting an ‘18’ certificate, which these days normally indicates that the content is very extreme indeed, not much of what happens is actually shown, and while leaving stuff to the imagination is often a good thing, in a movie like this it doesn’t work; you just want to see everything, in all of its gruesome and blackly amusing detail. Lads just out to ogle will of course be pleased that there are far more boobs on display, and occasionally a scene displays real inventiveness. Ving Rhames, Paul Scheer and Christopher Lloyd all reprise their fun roles from the first movie, and Rhames, who makes any film more enjoyable by just being in it, has a terrific gag involving one of his metal legs [remember, he lost both his legs in Piranha]. The film just about keeps afloat as a slightly scaled-done rehash of the first film, despite the increased humour minimising the scare factor, until somebody shows up. I mean….yes…the Hoff!
You could say that David Hasselhoff’s constant willingness to take the mickey out of himself is a good thing, but I have always thought it’s rather sad that never tries to ….you know….actually be good. He is crap in this movie, but was obviously asked to be, so made to attempt whatsoever, after all, that’s why people like him, isn’t it? He’s just as awful an actor as he was back in 1978’s Starcrash, and for me his self-parodying appearance in Piranha 3DD lowered the film considerably and totally removed what element of fear there was. If everything is done for a laugh, what’s the point? For me, while the girls are certainly nice to look at, only Rhames and Christopher Lloyd really hit the tone of the material. The film is incredibly uneven; lots of scenes seem to be terribly filmed with lots of herky-jerky camerawork and endless close ups, but a few bits are cleverly done, with quite a few unusual angles; I especially liked a cracked mirror scene shot from behind the mirror. Likewise, the 3D is mixed: much of it is either pointless or blurry but a few things do work very well- watch out for a bit with a key that will really make you think the key is hovering in front of you. This film needed more stuff like this though.
I would still say that Piranha 3DD justs about passes muster as an enjoyable hour and a half at the pictures, so long as you lower you expectations: I haven’t yet mentioned a couple of good parodies of other movies and that some of the film seems a partial take-off on Jaws 3D. The piranhas look good too. If there is going to be a third one though, please filmmakers, try a bit harder, and if you have to have a cult guest ‘star’, get one who is actually good.