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Blu-ray Review: Piranha 3DD – Absolutely Awful

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As an individual who started watching motion pictures obsessively at an early age, I was quick to identify and remember two very important things: a remake is rarely as good as the original, and a sequel is not equal. Granted, there are many exceptions to both rules, such as John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly. Another remake that was enjoyable for me (though hardly superior to the original) was 2010’s Piranha 3D, which went all-out with its risqué elements of humor and horror. Of course, one killer fish movie deserves another — particularly if it’s successful in the box office — so the producers shelled out some dough for a follow-up feature.

It is here that the “sequels are not equal” rule comes into play, folks. Sadly, instead of stepping down the quality ladder in order to come up with something still-kinda-good like Universal did with Jaws 2, they jumped off the whole damn series of steps altogether. As a result, when they hit the ground, they landed in a big pile of fish shit — and they called it Piranha 3DD. Now, as if the title wasn’t enough to suggest nobody was taking anyone serious with this flick, the producers then hired the director and writers of the Feast trilogy — a series of movies that managed to get progressively dumber as each scene tried to out-gross the former collection of frames.

This time, the hungry fish invade a chlorinated water slide park. A passing line is tossed in about chlorination in order to make the piranha being there feasible, but, in all honesty, the movie is about as shallow as the park’s pools themselves. Essentially, the whole objective of the movie is to subject viewers to one vulgar moment after another, with lots of female nudity tossed in order to reward us. It doesn’t work, naturally, since director John Gulager and his regular writers Marcus Dunstan (checks in) and Patrick Melton feel its necessary to punish us for even looking at the film. Worse still, they follow a formula that is none-too-different from the previous movie, so one just gets the feeling they’re watching a lousy rip-off instead — which it really is, when you sit back and look at it.

Hopefully, the greedy-ass producers have learned their lesson. Though I doubt it.

Starring in this awful movie are Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, Katrina Bowden, and David Koechner (it’s getting so that anything featuring this man is guaranteed to suck). David Hasselhoff appears in an extended cameo as himself, who gets to poke fun at his own career — though it’s done in such a manner that you’re fairly uncertain who was playing a joke on whom — while Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, and Paul Scheer reprise their roles from the first film (and are about the only actors to emerge with any sort of dignity at the end, though that’s not saying much). Clu Gulager (the director’s much-more-celebrated, much-more-talented father) and Gary Busey appear in a pre-credit sequence as the fishies’ first victims.

Anchor Bay and The Weinstein Company reels Piranha 3DD in via a Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy bundle that presents the movie in truly stellar-looking transfer. Unfortunately, the disc’s bright colors, strong contrast, and positively sharp detail are so fine, that the abysmal CGI stands out like, well, piranhas in a water park. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack delivers — though there’s only so much I could take of the screaming and horrid contemporary soundtrack. English (SDH) and Spanish subtitles are available for those wishing to confirm the dialogue they hear is as bad as they think it is.

Special features include an audio commentary by three of the production crew’s biggest offenders (Gulager, Dunstan, and co-writer/producer Joel Soisson), deleted scenes, and a number of behind-the-scenes ditties about the making of the film from the perspective of its cast and crew. The most interesting item overall here — quite possibly on the entire disc itself — is a collage of material from Mr. Gary Busey himself. Looking even more whacked-out than ever, the deranged performer blathers on about whatever it is he’s talking about. This is followed by a completely-unrelated short film, A Lesson with John by Michael Ratner, wherein a bratty lad (Ratner) gets schooled in tennis by John McEnroe. It’s funnier than it sounds, as Ratner clearly had a good idea, but absolutely no clue how to make it funny (McEnroe cussing up a storm just doesn’t cut it).

So, if I total up the scores correctly here, it would seem that the only reason to check out Piranha 3DD is to see Gary Busey’s outtakes. If you have a morbid fascination for the dwindling actor, I’d suggest you rent the disc. Otherwise, avoid it like you should have done with most of Gulager’s other movies.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.