Danielle Panabaker - Maddy
Matt Bush - Barry
Katrina Bowden - Shelby
Jean-Luc Bilodeau - Josh
David Koechner - Chet
Chris Zylka - Kyle
Adrian Martinez - Big Dave
David Hasselhoff - Himself
Christopher Lloyd - Mr. Goodman
Genre - Horror/Science Fiction/B-Movie/Comedy/Bad Animals
Running Time - 83 Minutes
If you've been reading this blog long enough to remember my reviews for 1978's PIRANHA and its 2010 remake, you know that I really enjoy those two B-movie centered on those killer fish. Although they're considered ripoffs of the more iconic JAWS from 1975, I find both PIRANHA films to be a lot of fun and memorable after the films are done. One of these days, I will review 1981's PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING and the 1995 TV-movie remake of PIRANHA. But I'm not feeling suicidal right this minute, so they can wait.
However, I did decide to check out 2012's sequel to the 2010 remake - PIRANHA 3DD. It's a sequel I had been wanting to see two years ago, but kept putting off for whatever reason. A lot of my blogger friends seemed to dig it quite a bit, while other critics pretty much buried this one for being inferior to the film before it. I guess it wasn't a film I had to rush out and see, even though it had boobs, killer fish, and David Hasselhoff playing himself in his Baywatch lifeguard uniform. But I decided to take a chance on it and see which side of the spectrum I fell on when it came to this film. And while I didn't hate it like a lot of people, I was very disappointed in the film. It could have been so much better.
A marine biology student named Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) returns home, stunned that her stepfather Chet (David Koechner) has turned her mother's water park into something made for strippers and porn stars just to make more money. Chet has been illegally drilling water from a nearby lake, awakening the giant piranha that destroyed Lake Victoria a year ago and catching their attention. Eventually, Maddy and her friends start getting attacked by the piranha while hanging by the lake. Maddy warns Chet, but he refuses to listen as he's hoping a guest appearance by David Hasselhoff will build business for the park. Unfortunately, it's only building a food supply for some hungry fish.
Screenplay - I think PIRANHA 3DD is greatly hurt by its script. It's not as if I was expecting an Academy Award worthy screenplay of some sort. After all, the film is about killer fish and boobs bouncing every chance they get. But the 2010 remake had a lot going for it. Both are brainless films, but PIRANHA 3D had a heart and a soul that makes it a success. Alexandre Aja and crew made a film that paid homage to the original and films they loved, while keeping it professional and creating something new that didn't insult fans of the genre. The story was simple, the characters were likeable, and the pacing was fantastic. Even the over-the-top stuff in the last half was genuinely amusing. It all felt organic and things just clicked. I wish I could say the same about PIRANHA 3DD.
For one, the characters aren't really that likeable. The first one barely had deep character development, so I didn't expect the sequel to change that. But the sequel could have at least given us characters we could care about. Honestly, I could care less about any of these victims. I should at least care about the main girl, Maddy. But she wasn't interesting enough for that to happen. She was smart, pretty, and stuck in a love triangle. But other than that, what else was there? Barry had more of a character, only because he had layers that included studying what Maddy studied to find something in common with her, hating cop Kyle, and saving a frog from a piranha because he had one as a pet once. But it still wasn't enough to root for him. Kyle was a prick cop who was the typical pretty boy douchebag, so you wanted him dead quick. Shelby was the hot virgin and that was about it. Big Dave loved fucking a pool drain. And Chet was the typical perverted owner who wanted sex to sell his business. Every character was one-note and none of them had anything of substance. Even the love triangle aspect felt bland. These characters just bored me.
Also, situations felt forced just so people could laugh or be scared. A guy screwing a pool drain isn't funny. Having a piranha lodged inside his butt crack didn't help either. The bathtub dream sequence, which was an obvious homage to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, was pointless. The cameos from Gary Busey and Clu Gulager were handled poorly and without humor. The only real amusing parts for me were the sex scene where a piranha exits a girl's vagina and eats the dude's penis, leading to one of the greatest lines of dialogue ever...
"Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina!"
Direction - John Gulager, who directed the fun FEAST, couldn't bring that with him while directing PIRANHA 3DD. The pacing was off. The slo mo on the boobs was fun at times, but got really repetitive. While I thought the massacre was fun, it wasn't shot all that well in my opinion. It felt like a SyFy Channel film, with CGI blood and gore all over the place. It was hard to see what was going on at times due to the frantic editing and use of overcrowding CGI. The gore effects were cheap looking, but I did like the decapitation death into motorboat sequence. I felt Gulager didn't really capitalize on the situations and/or locations all that well. You could have done a lot with that water park and the location felt like an afterthought at times. I thought PIRANHA 3D handled the massacre a lot better and more inventive. Maybe the budget wasn't as bad as the previous film, but things just looked cheap. And I can't comment on the 3D, so I don't know how it looked. But I thought the visual presentation could have been much better. It should have made the script more fun than it actually was.
But the film had a lot of boobs, so I can't hate on it too much. I just wish Gulager was more tongue-in-cheek with everything. It just felt he was aping Aja's style rather than creating his own. And it didn't work all that well for him.
Acting - The acting saves this portion of the review. While the characters weren't great, at least the actors were game and having fun. Danielle Panabaker played it mostly straight as Maddy, the young marine biologist. Katrina Bowden was a super hot virgin with some great dialogue. Matt Bush played the nerd well as Barry. Chris Zylka was the perfect douche as Kyle. David Koechner was pretty funny as Chet, although he would have been great with better material. Christopher Lloyd was a nice return as Mr. Goodman, being his eccentric self. Ving Rhames was kinda amusing as Deputy Fallon, now with a shotgun for a leg. And David Hasselhoff was just amazing as himself. The whole Baywatch deal was just brilliant and a lot of fun. The acting was more than fine for a film like this. I just wish the material was stronger.
While not as violent as PIRANHA 3D, this sequel still had a lot of blood and out-of-nowhere death sequences. People get chewed up. Flying piranha bite their victim's head off pretty cleanly. A piranha feasts on a penis, leading to the owner cutting it off just to get the fish off of him. We get a decapitation scene as someone drives through a string holding a row of flags. And Ving Rhames blasting fish was pretty cool. I thought the massacre from the 2010 film was more bloody and violent, but this film held its own I guess.
Boobs. Lots and lots of boobs. Boobs of the real and fake variety. Bouncing in slow motion. Bouncing in water. Just a lot of boobs and girls in bikinis. We also get a piranha on a penis, plus a piranha up some dude's butt. It wasn't the sexiest film ever, but I'm sure it'll keep many visually stimulated.
PIRANHA 3DD could have been cheesier. But David Hasselhoff trying to reprise Mitch Buchanan and realizing he's too old for the role now is just great. He knew what kind of film he was in and stole the spotlight from everyone else. Plus you have piranha invading a water park filled with strippers and porn stars. And a fish coming out of a girl's vagina, just to eat her boyfriend's penis. If that's not somewhat cheesy, I don't know what is.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE WISHING THIS FILM WAS BE--- BOOBS...
- Gary Busey was chewed up by a school of piranha. In his words, I consider this Finding An Important Lesson, Inviting Needed Growth.
- At the Big Wet Water Park, no one gets you wetter. Peter North would probably challenge that.
- A baby piranha invited itself inside of Shelby's vagina. No amount of Summer's Eve will get rid of that smell now...
- Maddy had to save Shelby during a piranha attack on a pier. Judging by what happened to her in that FRIDAY THE 13TH remake, you'd think she would have known better than to stay away from lakes.
- According to this film, tragedy makes virgin girls want to make love. Hopefully those next 30 seconds won't make the situation more tragic.
- "Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina." That might explain why I'm an only child...
- David Hasselhoff banged two girls at once because they enjoyed his singing. Nice to see someone give deaf girls some love too.
- A piranha lodged itself up one dude's ass. Man, I feel sorry for the fish.
THE FINAL HOWL
PIRANHA 3DD promised to be bigger and better. Unfortunately, this sequel just ended up being inferior to the 2010 remake and needed more bite. The characters aren't as good. The direction wasn't as polished. The stuff with the piranhas could have been more inventive. But I did like that the actors had fun with the mediocre material. I thought the third act of the film was a lot of fun. And David Hasselhoff's presence is simply the best part of the film, playing a douchier version of himself [or maybe he's really like that, who knows?]. So I'm mixed on this one. Sure it had bouncing boobs in slo-mo and decent death sequences. But I saw it done better within the franchise. Not a rush-out-to-see film, but not a bad one if you want to waste 83 minutes of your time.