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  • 15
  • Horror, Sci-Fi
  • 2010

Mega Piranha

Film4 Mega Piranha

Synopsis

An epic monstrosity of a monster-action-romance movie - from writer/director Eric Forsberg who also wrote War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Snakes on a Train...

About

There is Hollywood, and then there is the parallel universe of The Asylum, an off-Hollywood production/distribution house that specialises in so-called 'mockbusters', titled, timed and tailored to cash in on the publicity campaigns of bigger studio movies. The Asylum's straight-to-video quickies like H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005), The Da Vinci Treasure (2006), Snakes On A Train (2006), Transmorphers (2007), 2012 Doomsday (2008), The Day the Earth Stopped (2008) and Paranormal Entity (2009) may be crassly daft genre pieces, but then so are many of the better known blockbusters in whose shadow they bask, so that these parasitic low-budget rip-offs in fact offer a far better parody of the Hollywood mainstream than any Scary Movie (2000), Date Movie (2006), Epic Movie (2007) or Meet The Spartans (2008) has yet achieved.

Recently, however, The Asylum hit the big time themselves, getting a brief but buzzy theatrical run in the UK for their what-it-says-on-the-tin schlockfest Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009). So the title of their latest opus, Mega Piranha, riffs as much on their own hit as on Alexandre Aja's forthcoming Piranha 3-D (2010) - which itself is a remake of Joe Dante's tongue-in-cheek Jaws rip-off Piranha (1978), whose even more preposterous sequel Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981) was the feature debut of one James Cameron. In other words, Mega Piranha comes with real exploitation pedigree, which it mutates to delirious new heights - or depths.

When America's ambassador, Venezuela's Foreign Minister and a whole boatload of topless Latinas are killed on the Orinoco River, Special Forces he-man Jason Fitch (Paul Logan) is called in to investigate the 'assassination' and prevent an 'anti-American military coup' - but he quickly discovers that the killers were not 'terrorists' but rather genetically modified, ultra-aggressive piranhas that are growing at an 'exponential' rate. "They eat, they grow, they multiply, and they won't ever stop," explains UNESCO genetics researcher Sarah Monroe (played by '80s pop singer Tiffany).

Sure enough, despite Fitch's efforts to take on the fishy foes single-handed with his combat knife and high-kicking moves, they are soon the size of houses, and thrusting themselves at buildings, gunships, submarines, helicopters and anything else that gets in their way - while showing an alarming resistance to nuclear strikes. As the piranhas reach the US coastline, Fitch has one last plan up his wetsuit - provided that the absurdly persistent Colonel Antonio Diaz (David Labiosa) does not race all the way from Venezuela to Florida by bullet-damaged helicopter on a personal vendetta to stop Fitch (rather than the fish) dead in the water.

Mega Piranha mixes implausibly straight-faced acting, ludicrously cheesy lines ("this is a real mess, Fitch - and those fish are still out there"), hilariously half-arsed CGI, and a story that positively revels in wild leaps of logic, all in the interests of serving up questionable thrills on an impossibly large, er, scale. Is it any good? That's the wrong question to ask of a film like this whose many plot-holes, absurdities and over-the-top idiocies are an essential part of the allure. But is it bad enough?

Well, with its pacy editing, non-stop action and nice establishing shots of the Venezuelan river system (in fact filmed in Belize), it is never quite Birdemic bad - and even as far as blithely taste-defying piranha flicks go, it is not quite as far out there as Massimiliano Cerchi's eye-wateringly oddball Creatures From The Abyss (1994), which truly has to be seen to be believed (at time of writing it could be seen on YouTube). Still if you giggled at Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, you'll probably giggle at this too - and it is a decent enough stopgap before The Asylum's next epic release, Titanic 2...

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: David Labiosa

In a nutshell

So bad it's good? So bad it's bad? Who knows - Mega Piranha will easily gnaw its way through any serious criticism launched its way.

by Anton Bitel

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