Piranha 3D

Piranha 3D (2010) movie poster

(2010) director Alexandre Aja
viewed: 08/22/10 at the AMC Loews Metreon 16, SF, CA

T & A and blood and gore, and in 3D as well.

Alexandre Aja’s remake of the Roger Corman/Joe Dante/John Sayles original Piranha (1978) is most everything it promises to be, and unlike so many re-makes of horror films of late (A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), My Bloody Valentine (2009)), it refreshes the content rather than just regurgitates it.  In fact, Aja makes for a funhouse ride of sex, gore, torsos, and extremities, with a dose of humor almost as large as the dose of blood (in gallons).

I’d actually been yearning to see the original, directed by Joe Dante, as part of a trope of early Roger Corman-produced films by name directors of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  And I had also desired to see Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981), which happened to be James Cameron’s first feature film.   Long, convoluted story short, watching the originals will have to follow watching the remake.

The premise is that it’s spring break on “Lake Victoria” (Lake Havasu was the location of the filming) and that lots of young adults are going to party, drink, and get out and out wild for the holiday.  But just before that, a seismic event occurs, which unleashes a horde of prehistoric piranha that have been trapped in a “lake under the lake” for a millennium.  While trapped down there, they cannibalized to eat and they are pretty much super-piranha.  It’s a formula made for lurid enjoyment, watching the hard-bodied youth become stripped of their flesh or downright skeletonized.  I mean, this is what you pay your money for.

Richard Dreyfuss shows up in a nod to the original “fish terrorizing a community” film, Jaws (1975), for which the original Piranha was a knock-off/parody.  We also get the game Elisabeth Shue, last seen in Hamlet 2 (2008) and now playing in a fun B-movie, as the town’s sheriff.  Her eldest son is supposed to be babysitting his younger siblings but takes a job with Jerry O’Connell, playing a character based roughly on Girls Gone Wild-producer Joe Francis, scouting sites for the filming of nudity and debauchery.  Actually, I thought O’Connell was pretty hilarious.  Like Shue, the whole cast is pretty game; everyone is here for the bloodbath, jokey gorings, severed body parts, and lusty nudes.

The 3-D seemed an apt upgrade here, an opportunity to thrust teeth and prongs and various pieces of flesh at the audience.  But really, it didn’t make for any memorable additions to the process.  A further argument against this whole push in current film-making.  And the digitally animated fish, well, they’re typical digital animation effects, not particularly frightening or realistic.

I give Aja credit though. Aja (High Tension (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008)) embraces this film with a gusto and verve that makes it worth the effort.  From the underwater swimming nude scene to the disemboweling and general chopping up of the titillating and erotic features of hundreds of gyrating bodies, the film just is what it sets out to be, a sexualized  gore-fest, which fixates on the body.  There’s not a lot of subtext to the naturally occurring fish.  But the hot, partying humans, their eroticism and mortality are on high display.

One Reply to “Piranha 3D”

  1. Seriously? You’re going to dump on My Bloody Valentine? That has to be one of the few horror remakes that didn’t suck the air out of the theater. I would go so far as to say that you’re pretty far off the mark of asserting that MBV regurgitates its source material. I’m putting forth that the remake ofMy Bloody Valentine embodies the same spirit of popcorn fun that the Piranha remake supposedly conveys. I will return to this subject after I see Piranha 3D. I have been waiting for it to make its run in Korea. Here’s the thing though; I will most likely watch it, not in 3D, but in 4D. In Korea, we’re that good.

    Both movies use 3D for what it really is ever used for what is was meant for; throwing pickaxes at the audience. 4D brings the movie experience a step further. While in 3D films the audience believes that things will fly at them, in 4D the audience is literally thrown at the film. Ushers roam the aisle and randomly throw audience members at the screen. it freaking rocks.

    I think you need to go back and rewatch My Bloody Valentine and think seriously about where you life has taken you. Remember, I have a better grasp on movies and I also have a better grasp on life.

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