June 1, 2012
Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, Joel Soisson
Danielle Panabaker as Maddy
Matt Bush as Barry
David Koechner as Chet
Jean-Luc Bilodeau as Josh
Chris Zylka as Kyle
Katrina Bowden as Shelby
Piranha was surprisingly good Roger Corman film from 1978. (To be clear: not great, and not even really good, but considering the expectations that would surround a film that depicts a school of piranhas being accidentally released into the river used by a Summer resort so they can eat everybody, you get “surprisingly good”). That original film avoided the fate of being completely forgettable, or even laughable, by placing Joe Dante in the director’s chair, as he would later gain the status of “Master of Horror” due to films such as The Howling, Twilight Zone: The Movie and Gremlins. There was a sequel or two (I don’t really remember how many) but they stunk at the level one would expect. Then came Piranha 3D in 2010, this time with Alexandre Aja at the helm (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, Frontier(s)) and in spite of the fact that it really should have been horrifically bad it actually wasn’t – good back story, fair characters, semi-credible sub-plots, good cameos, and a harbor full of blood and body parts with plenty of opportunities for individual character revenge and redemption. Surprisingly good. Then came today’s topic, Piranha 3DD.
Piranha 3DD takes place in “real time”, 2 years after the bloodbath from Piranha 3D. Somehow a dead cow has become full of pre-historic piranha eggs and when two farmers (including a cameo by Gary Busey, presumably after he got done filming “Celebrity Apprentice”) wade into the water somewhere in Arizona to retrieve the carcass the eggs shoot out, hatch and eat them both. Here we go again. Although it is a very long time before there is any explanation about how it happened, ultimately we find out that these piranhas are swimming along underground lakes and rivers all over the place, and now, through a strange twist of missteps and unbelievable scenarios, these little critters are headed into the pools and slides of a water park just in time for the grand opening, featuring an appearance by none other than David Hasselhoff.
So let’s start this one the way the other Piranha films were introduced: This film is headed by John Gulager, who you may know as the winner in the show “Project Greenlight”, which had a grand prize of funding and distribution for a movie – he ended up as the director of Feast as a result of this show, and that was a good solid horror movie. After that came some short films, a few tragic sequels (Pulse 2, Feast 2, Feast 3) and then Piranha 3DD. That’s a bit of a different track record than the directors of the other films had. There is nothing about this killer fish film that would lead anyone to expect that it would be any good, but the same can be said for the other fish films mentioned, and they were okay – is this one too? No.
Piranha 3DD doesn’t have any of the components necessary to make a story work – lame back-story, ridiculous sub-plot, no characters to care about, half-assed attempt at revenge and redemption, and barely dialed-in gore. What the film does have is good cameos and lots of nudity. This isn’t a horror film, it is an extended-play music video. Except without the music or the rock star.
The most fun thing about Piranha 3DD is David Hasselhoff. I like him for the same reason I like William Shatner – I remember the shows that made him famous from years ago and liked them, but he keeps himself relevant through a willingness to make fun of himself and his history, thereby redefining the cheesy as cool and campy. Hasselhoff plays that role perfectly in this film, and he is the highlight beyond a shadow of a doubt. Well, the under water cam in the “Adult Pool” placed at the ladder leading out of the water is not bad either, when it catches the Russian chick who believes passionately in shaving climbing up and out.
Piranha 3DD is, again, like a music video, and therefore there is some fun to be had in watching it. There is not any real storytelling, but maybe you don’t care about that? I commend John Gulager for winning “Project Greenlight” and for Feast, which I love, but I have to wonder… “American Idol” is a similar kind of “find the next star” show, and most of the winners of “American Idol” aren’t doing anything of note these days – plus “Project Greenlight” is now off the air. I am not drawing a conclusion based on those facts, just pointing it out.