Piranha 3D (2010)

One from the rewatch pile…

Piranha 3D (2010)

Film: The remake debate of today is as boring as the sequel debate of 80s and 90s. It is said it shows that Hollywood has run out of ideas and needs fresh blood, and this review will not enter into it other than to comment that this film, Alexandre Aja’s Piranha is a remake of the legendary Joe Dante film Piranha from 1978 albeit with a lot of changes.

A lot of sexy changes.

Unfortunately, I was unable to review this film in 3D, due to the fact that I don’t have the equipment, but what I do have is a decent Bluray Player and a nice big TV so I can at least review the film in 2D. While I am not a huge fan of 3D anyway, I admit I was disappointed to not see naked chicks, eyeballs and vomit in the third dimension.

Piranha tells this tale…

A subterranean quake causes a fissure to open beneath the waters of Lake Victoria, a quiet town that becomes are Mecca for drunken, carnal pleasures (aka fun) during American spring break. Problem is though the fissure has released prehistoric piranha into the otherwise calm waters. Our story follows several of the townsfolk and a few of the spring break visitors and how they survive – or don’t survive – the attack of these flesh eating beasts.

Elizabeth Shue plays Sheriff Julie Forester, a member of the local constabulary who has never really had to face more in the town than drunk and disorderly charges, but who has to rise to the occasion when her town and family is threatened. After the quake she escorts scientist type Novak (Adam Scott) and his assistants (played by genre stalwart Dina Meyer and Ricardo Chavira) to explore the crack but after two of the team are eaten, they realise the entire occupants of the lake are in danger, and need to clear it immediately.

Steve McQueen’s grandson, and Vampire Diaries actor Steven R. McQueen plays Julie’s son, Jake, who is supposed to be babysitting his brother and sister (played by Brooklynn Proulx and Sage Ryan) but instead decides to play tour guide on the lake to Girls Gone Wild wannabe director Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell, his assistant (Paul Scheer) and his two stars (played by super hot duo Kelly Brooke and Riley Steele) so they can film heaps of titty shots in beautiful locales. His NOT-girlfriend Kelly (Gossip Girl’s Jessica Szohr) tags along which spoils Jake’s plans of porking a hottie, but she finds perhaps she could be one of these types of girls herself.

Of course, like everyone in the water, they run foul of the fish, and need to be rescued. Mucho bloodshed ensues…

Like all 3D films watched in 2D, a visual problem is revealed. When in 3D, one manages to overlook any dodgy effects as you are apparently dumb-founded by the visuals, but some of the effects in this film are deplorable, and while they are supposed to ‘pop’ in 3D, they just look out of place and tacked on in 2D. Haters of CGI will feel justified in their loathing with how poor some of the fish effects are.

In the August 2010 issue of Vanity Fair, James Cameron said that films like this “cheapen the medium and reminds you of bad 3D horror films of the 70s and 80s”. Now while I think that Cameron can pull his head in for casting hate towards films from the 70s and 80s, I think that this would have been a much better film if it had not been in 3D as more of the budget could have been spent on the actual effects instead of the 3D gag. The ultimate scene of carnage was one of the bloodiest of its type and probably couldn’t have been much better, but some of the more quiet scenes, like our first proper look at one of the piranha in a fish tank, were terrible. All of this is quite a shame as Aja’s abilities as a director are spectacular, and the cinematography, especially of some of the landscapes are beautiful.

One last note I should make is that horror fans need to look hard at this film as there are cameos aplenty, some more obvious than others, and the name of Richard Dreyfuss’ beer is a classic.

Boobs, blood and a collection of movies ‘legends’ make for an enjoyable experience, but not the greatest horror film ever made. As a tribute to eighties horror flicks, it is a fun distraction, but not a great rewatcher, and certainly not a classic of the horror genre. After Aja’s previous output, including impressive remakes of both The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors, I expected more.

Score: ***

Format: The film is presented in 2.40:1 1080p widescreen and is fantastic. I don’t think I have ever seen a horror film set in such a bright daylight setting, and the colors are fantastic. Boobs in hi-def are a blessing from the home entertainment gods as well! The sound is presented in DTS HD 5.1 Dolby Digital and is loud and aggressive.

Score: ****

Extras: This Bluray has four extras on it:

The Making of Piranha Documentary is an extraordinary complete and interesting doco, and all involved talk of all aspects of making the film, even the legalities of location filming.

Deleted Scenes: Usually deleted scenes don’t add much extra, and essentially these don’t either, but they do complete some of the stories of which you only saw a part, like the male and female leads relationship, and there are additional scenes of boob manipulation, so winners all round.

Theatrical 3D Trailer: My favourites of all extras are trailers of the film. After one has watched a film it is interesting to see how it was marketed.

Audio Commentary with Director Alexandre Aja: The commentary is actually by Alexandre Aja, and producers Gregory Levasseur and Alix Taylor. It is a really nice commentary that is wholly informative.

Score: ***

WISIA: Like I said in the body of the review, it’s not a great rewatcher, but it does however, have a couple of good points that make it worthwhile… and I’m not talking about the ones on pornstar Gianna Michael’s chest either… so I have to admit to multiple watches.

Summer review: Piranha (1978)

To celebrate the summer solstice, here’s an oldie from the re watch pile…
Piranha (1978)

Piranha Australian blurry release

Film: In Australia, nothing says summer like a swim in at the beach or a dip in a river in one of our many national parks, and just as Jaws makes everyone stay out of the surf, Piranha is sure to dull anyone’s inclination to enjoy the river ways.

Piranha: Menzies, Dillman and McCarthy

Piranha is a film that is probably just as well known as it’s ‘older brother’ Jaws, it’s written by The Spiderwyck Chronicles screenplay writer John Sayles, from a story devised by him and Kingdom of the Spiders Richard Robinson. The film was directed by Joe Dante, who also gave us the wonderful Gremlins, and The Hole.

Piranha tells of Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies), a private investigator who enlists the help of mountain man, Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman) to find two missing hikers. They find the hiker’s devoured bodies at the bottom of a swimming pool that they empty, but what they don’t realise is, they have delivered into the local river, where a Summer Camp and a Resort lie, a school of deadly killer fish. Scientist and creator of the creatures, Dr Hoek (Kevin McCarthy) informs them of their deadly faux par! 

How can they stop them and is the appearance of the military and mysterious Dr. Mengers (Barbara Steele) going to benefit to hinder their efforts?

Piranha: fish food.

This film is pretty much 70s horror/ exploitation/ Corman distilled into the perfect package. It exploits Jaws by its very existence and playing on the fear of the water it gave us a few years earlier, and it does so with bravado: look out for the video game of Jaws, and a copy of Moby Dick in various scenes as well as other references. Throwing in fan favourites Steele, McCarthy and Dick Miller and Paul Bartel doesn’t hurt the proceedings either! 

It does play very cleverly on that fear of the unknown in the muddiness and darkness of the water and there is enough levity to make it fun as well as horrifying. A favourite of mine as well as a damn good Corman film!

Score: ****1/2

Piranha menu screen

Format: The review copy of this film is the Australian multi-region bluray release which runs for approximately 92 minutes, and is a pretty good anamorphic widescreen presentation, with a clear 2.0 stereo audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There’s a cool bunch of extras on this disc.

There’s a commentary starring director Joe Dante and producer Jon Davidson, both of whom give a cool commentary on the film. It is interesting and thorough, and so informative!

Behind the scenes footage has some pretty cool ‘home movies’ of what went on on the set of the film.

The Making of Piranha is a 20 minute doco about the film with reflection on it from Roger Corman, Joe Dante, and various other cast and crew.

Bloopers and Out takes are just what they sound like. Really it feels like more behind the scenes stuff but it is occasionally funny.

Additional scenes from the Tv version is exactly what it is called. There is a pretty cool bit with Dick Millar and Paul Bartel, where Bartel manages to squeeze in a nose-pick joke: well played!

 There is some radio spots, Tv ad and trailers for the film, and a poster and stills gallery is a bunch of international promotional material.

Phil Tippet’s Behind the Scenes photo collection which is about 50 pretty cool behind the scenes shots of the various effects used in the film, including sculpts and the internal mechanics of the fish.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s a 70s horror classic and I watch it quite regularly.

Piranha: the 70s at its finest