MAY 28, 2010
Now THIS is an entertaining B-movie! After being so disappointed with yesterday’s “shoulda been awesome” Hellbound, I am happy to report that my mindless entertainment quota has been filled with Mega Piranha, a nearly nonstop account of what happens when an ever-growing school of Piranha attack Venezuela (California) en route to Florida (also California), and how they are stopped by a couple of scientists and a Navy Seal that’s so good he can talk underwater with his scuba breathing thing in his mouth.
Obviously, this movie is terrible by any conventional critical measure - the acting is horrible across the board, the FX make the average Sci-Fi Original look like WETA, and it doesn’t really make any goddamn sense whatsoever (how do flying piranhas manage to make buildings explode just by flying into them?). But none of that matters, because no one should expect any of those things from an Asylum production, which are slapped together to meet the theatrical release date of whatever movie they’re ripping off. So it’s a bit ironic that it’s actually much ahead of its big-screen cousin, Piranha 3-D, which was originally due in theaters in April but has now been delayed til August. This means that for ignorant people, this might be the first time where the real version gets labeled the ripoff.
But somehow they managed to get this one right. While most of their other movies, like Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, are crushing bores with only enough action to fill up a trailer, Mega Piranha offers almost non-stop action. We get two piranha attacks in the first 10 minutes, a car chase, many more piranha attacks, underwater sequences, a foot chase, a nuke... I don’t think more than 5 minutes goes by in the movie without someone getting killed or attacked. And even during the slow scenes, director Eric Forsberg goes all Michael Bay, swirling the camera around and playing Zimmer-esque music to keep up the excitement. Hell, even the opening credits are on overdrive - all of the usual things are listed (the cast, the producers, various crew heads, director, etc), but it only takes about 30 seconds for all of them to fly by.
Naturally, the Asylum couldn’t really AFFORD all of this stuff, so the effects are a bit worse than usual. They also recycle shots so often you might start to think the DVD is broken - an attack on some poor army guy includes the same shot of the two heroes struggling to save him no less than FOUR times (with the accompanying audio to boot!), and shots of the piranha jumping out of the water or swimming around never get less than 2 uses each. Hell, they even recycle establishing shots (with the accompanying titles!); we are “introduced” to the Orinoco River twice in the first chapter. It may be a 90 minute movie, but I think there’s only about 70 minutes of footage.
Some of the mistakes are a bit baffling too. The aforementioned scuba-talking is not exclusive to this movie, but why do BOTH cars during the big car chase keep changing models (and why do they both have CA plates when it’s supposed to be in Venezuela)? Wouldn’t it take more effort to use a different car in the same location? During the chase, the Bourne-esque hero guy (Paul Logan) tells his passengers to stay down and out of sight before they go to a checkpoint, and even though Tiffany is in the front seat of the car(s), this somehow works, the guard doesn’t see her (even when he sticks his head right up to the window). Did she put on an invisibility cloak? Why didn’t the editor simply take out the “stay out of sight” dialogue when they clearly don’t really hide?
The lapses in logic provide some of the entertainment too, such as when their helicopter is about to go down due to a leak in the fuel tank, which Tiffany fixes by attaching an oxygen tank to the fuel line. Sure, why not? And I never tired of the piranha kamikaze-ing various buildings and ships, causing them to explode on impact. Oh, and if you were a fan of Mega Shark eating that airplane, you will be very satisfied here - pretty much every mode of transportation gets eaten at one point or another.
The making of also includes some hilarity, including the revelation that the topless ladies during the opening attack were in fact actual hookers that they gave “their standard day rate” to, a move that would make Uwe Boll proud. They also reveal that the budget was a cool 5 million, which would explain the lack of people standing around doing nothing and abundance of awesome shit (Mega Shark’s budget was 250k, in contrast). Maybe it was a joke, but I’m sure it was still a lot higher than their other stuff - even bad FX cost money, and the piranha are on-screen quite a bit. Tiffany also tells us that she wrote the song that plays over the end credits, which is not a selling point - even when she was popular, her biggest hits were covers or written by others.
B (ok, C) movie lovers take note - this is the rare one that actually lives up to its box art. For that alone it demands your respect. And I hope The Asylum continues to deliver more movies like this - ones that never slow down long enough for you to realize how bad they are. Kudos to all!
What say you?