JANUARY 13, 2011

Either the money was good, or the stars of “Piranha 3D” have indeed fallen off the deep end. Shue, Scott, Lloyd, and Dreyfuss are too successful. They shouldn’t need to slum it for this caricature of a relevant horror remake. The graphics are better than the original, 30-plus years later, but otherwise, this film should have dropped the big stars, added more adult entertainers, and become pornography.

Blood, alcohol, and boobs are the basis of good horror these days. At least, that is what Hollywood would have you believe. I have mixed feelings about the presence of Eli Roth in both the producer credits and the actual cast of the film (he plays a squirt gun operator that gets his head smashed by a frantic boater). Roth glorified the gore thriller with “Hostel” and now appears to have inspired more directors to follow in his footsteps. Roth’s horror had the three B’s but contained one crucial factor: Horror!

Roth’s “Hostel” was gritty and grainy, compelling and fresh. Yes, it made you want to throw up at times and tested the willingness of audiences to continue watching a film, but it was handled with a grace of a master painter, sketching a picture of society and how far it could fall. “Piranha 3D” is none of that.

“Piranha 3D” fails on all levels of horror. Classic horror is dated and unpolished but contains humor at what was considered horror in the past. The original will make you laugh, from outdated slang to the dramatic performances from all those involved. “Piranha 3D” fails even to cause a laugh. The film ultimately left me scratching my head and asking one crucial (at least I think so) question. Why does a woman’s top need to come off before she is then decapitated or eaten alive?

I do not understand the cheap thrill of further delving into this somewhat juvenile question. Perhaps on a higher level, Hollywood is trying to demoralize the idea of “private” parts. Or maybe they know the only reason people will watch this film will be for the lewd and nude encounters. Why else would they depict a piranha eating a male’s reproductive organ and then spitting it out at the “audience” (remember, this was a 3D film)? I am not a conservative person and understand the idea that “sex sells.” But to what importance to the cinema does “Piranha 3D” exist if not to be R-rated pornography? (Speaking of pornography, “Piranha 3DD (Double D)” comes out this year).

More or less, “Piranha 3D” is a failure in horror, remakes, and moviemaking. Not to say pornography cannot be well portrayed. But for a release marked as a legitimate film, it completely flops. Had it taken my advice and dove into the NC-17 or X-Rated route, the adult entertainment industry would have awarded it like they did the likes of “Pirates.” Otherwise, I worry for Academy Award-nominee Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Christopher Lloyd, and Richard Dreyfuss, who should not destroy the legacy he built with “Jaws” with some childish attempt at horror and humor.

August 20, 2010

Alexandre Aja

Pete Goldfinger
Josh Stolberg

by John Sayles

Dimension Films
The Weinstein Company

(for sequences of strong bloody horror violence and gore, graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use)

88 minutes

John R. Leonetti

Michael Wandmacher


Elisabeth Shue
Steven R. McQueen
Adam Scott
Jessica Szohr
Jerry O’Connell
Kelly Brook
Ving Rhames
Christopher Lloyd
Richard Dreyfuss
Riley Steele

Alexandre Aja
Mark Canton
Marc Toberoff
Grégory Levasseur

$24 million

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