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The killer fish are back in “Piranha 3DD”, the amusingly titled sequel to Alexandre Aja’s schlocky but fun 2010 remake of Joe Dante’s vaguely loved 1978 original. The film, which sees “Feast” trilogy director John Gulager taking a few steps up the genre ladder with his biggest budgeted outing to date, unsurprisingly offers up more of the same, the focus firmly on goofy gore and bouncing bosoms. Although rumoured at one time to be heading straight for DVD, the film, which was shot entirely in 3D rather than being subjected to the usual post-conversion indignities, has at last exploded onto the big screen, giving audiences the chance to have more entrails, limbs and mangled schlongs thrust in their faces.
The film doesn’t have a plot so much as a set up – Danielle Panabaker (“The Ward”) plays Maddy, an unconvincing marine biologist who returns home to find that her shady stepfather Chet (David Koechner, “Final Destination 5”) has transformed her water park into an adult playground called Big Wet, complete with stripper lifeguards. Unfortunately, the park is located just upstream from Lake Victoria, site of the piranha spring break buffet, and soon enough the ever hungry fish are back and looking for seconds.
For a sequel to a remake, “Piranha 3DD” really isn’t too bad, and has plenty to offer for fans of Aja’s old fashioned, over the top splatter comedy. Gulager certainly sticks to the formula, and the two films are pretty much exactly the same in every respect, save it having a slightly cheaper look and even more of a penchant for cheap titillation. This is of course no bad thing, and the film heaps on the gore and nudity with an amiable lack of pretension, barely a minute going by without Gulager reducing someone to mincemeat or getting them to shed their clothes. Possibly as a budget saving measure, very few of the supporting cast wear many clothes, and the film definitely deserves an award for its dedication to packing in shots of breasts and asses.
The blood similarly comes thick and fast, with plenty of kill scenes and amusingly creative set pieces, naturally culminating with a mass piranha attack on the water park in which countless scantily clad party goers are shredded. The special effects, a mixture of CGI and makeup, are reasonable enough, and if a bit daft looking at times, are very much in keeping with the films near camp sense of fun. Although the body count is near impossible to keep track of, there’s nothing particularly nasty or sadistic on show, and as with the “Feast” trilogy, Gulager clearly aims for hysterical 3D money shots rather than anything believable. The 3D itself is of a decent standard, and far better implemented than in most big budget studio films, lending itself well to the film’s modest desire to throw things at the screen rather than anything too clever.
Aside from a smattering of entirely predictable jump scares, the film is played mainly for laughs, and on this level it works surprisingly well, with lots of genuinely funny, if determinedly low brow moments. Whilst the Gary Busey cameo sadly falls flat, David Hasselhoff is on fine, undignified and self-depreciating form, and though the film’s trailers have given away some of his best lines, his appearance is both welcome and effective. Returning cast members Christopher Lloyd and Ving Rhames both raise a smile with their madcap scenery chewing, and the presence of such well-loved fan favourites gives the film a definite lift.
While none of this really means that “Piranha 3DD” is technically a good film or likely to appeal beyond the usual genre and exploitation crowd, judged on its own, unambitious merits, it’s a lot better than expected and serves up more than enough of the all-important gore and T&A to make the grade. Directed with enthusiasm and energy by John Gulager, it’s a perfectly respectable and entertaining slice of party time silliness, and one that’s all the better if washed down with a six pack or two and enjoyed with likeminded friends.
John Gulager (director) / Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton (screenplay)
CAST: Katrina Bowden … Shelby
Danielle Panabaker … Maddy
Christopher Lloyd … Mr. Goodman
Ving Rhames … Deputy Fallon
Chris Zylka … Kyle
Jean-Luc Bilodeau … Josh
Gary Busey … Clayton
David Hasselhoff … Himself
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood … Alex