Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Mega Piranha

So what have you done in the past few years?

Jarv’s Rating: A typically over-generous 2 Changs out of 4. This isn’t awful, and does have a strange watchability to it, but let’s face it, it’s still an Asylum film.

Those crazy people at Asylum. Seriously, they’re entire raison d’être is that when they think that someone has hit on a golden formula for cheap and cheerful schlock they can mimic endlessly and spend even less for equal success, they follow it with sub-standard crap without the slightest understanding of what made the original successful. For example, the rightfully much derided Snakes on a Train fiasco. Admittedly, Snakes on a Plane wasn’t exactly a slice of deep-fried gold, but it’s not a premise that you can extend indefinitely. However, something seems to have changed (possibly the medication) there and they’ve latched onto a formula that they can repeat forever with only minor tweaks to it: The Giant Fish eats people genre. First there was Megashark v Giant Octopus (which I reviewed here and was inexplicably generous with), then there was Megashark v Crocosaurus (again, reviewed by me here with a ridiculously generous rating), and now I’ve finally seen Mega Piranha, Asylum’s part 3 in the trifecta of crappy giant fish movies.

The formula works thus: take one large fish/ carnivorous animal. For the sake of argument, I’ll use a shark. Find feeble and implausible excuse to make the shark even bigger than it was originally, say it was frozen in an iceberg. Ignore rules of physics completely. Have shark run rampant around the ocean eating large boats/ cities/ whatever. Again, ignore consistency in sizing- you can make the shark jump/ fly, bite the Golden Gate Bridge and swallow an entire navy using only the cheapest and crappiest CGI. Also, and this is important, ignore geography as you need your shark to be some kind of extinction level event able to travel vast distances without impediment. Then, having established what can only laughably be called a script, grab a couple of D-listers or ex-pop stars from the 80’s (Gary Stretch, Urkel, Tiffany, Lorenzo Lamas and Debbie Gibson have all appeared in these films at one point or another) and have them heroically overcome the giant aquatic menace. Job done.

I, personally, think he's overcompensating for something with this gun.

This time round, we’re in some shitty South American country (I think it’s Venezuela) where a team of crack geneticists led by, er, Tiffany have been buggering around trying to grow piranha to solve the food crisis or something. Next thing you know, the piranha have got into the Orinoco and are chomping down on the US ambassador. The reaction is to call in Paul Logan’s special agent/ navy seal/ ninja/ trick footballer (delete as applicable) to come down and investigate. In the meantime, the scientists discover that the piranha can breed really fast and double their size every 2 days (a fact completely ignored for the rest of the film). Fitch (Logan) has managed to piss off Colonel Diaz (David Labiosa). The Piranha escape the Orinoco and a naval salvo to menace Florida (they get there in about 3 minutes), Fitch dons the wetsuit, assembles a team of crack-divers to go Man0-e-fisho with the Piranha. World gets saved. Oh, and one of them (Tiffany)eats Diaz’ helicopter.

Tiffany reacts with horror when told that catering has closed.

This film is a mess. However, for all intents and purposes it’s also a fairly entertaining one. Logan lying on his back kicking hundreds of fish away, for example, or the hilarious TV reporter getting chomped moment. Not to mention that the sight of a giant piranha stuck in the side of a Miami hotel is intrinsically funny. There’s also a car chase and I learned that if you suck on a flat mobile phone battery for 30 seconds that will recharge it fully. In case I’m not being obvious here, the script doesn’t make sense at all. For example, the final battle has a simple plan: get the piranhas to eat each other by cutting one of them. This is possibly the worst plan in any of these films, because surely there will be one fish standing (swimming?) at the end and the damned things spawn by themselves, so I can’t see how this will help. Nevertheless, there are enough chuckles to be had (watch Logan’s covert infiltration of Diaz’ base for a pure example of blundering stupidity) to carry the film. The dialogue isn’t great, and the plot is convoluted and clearly not properly thought out (do the fish really need to be invading the US to be a threat? Surely a school of giant piranha chomping all life in the Orinoco and on the shore is menace enough) but against my better instinct I found myself quite enjoying it.

Hehehehehe. Sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words

Which begs the question: why? I think it’s down to the acting. Tiffany, I suppose, needed an acting career now her music one is tits up, but mother of God has the 80’s warbler piled on the pounds. She’s officially a fat beast nowadays. Nevertheless, she gives it her all, and is comparatively better than Gibson was in Megashark, which should please her. Labiosa is a bundle of clichés wrapped in bacon as Diaz, being constantly one step away from saying “We don’t need no steenking batches”. However, he puts in a pretty entertaining performance. Logan, on the other hand, is either the best or the worst actor commissioned for one of these films (bear in mind that Lamas has had a shot at one), and plays knucklehead super commando/ navy seal/ etc completely and totally straight. Simultaneously, he’s having a blast (I know this from the making of) and the one time he slips character at the end is when he has to kiss Tiffany and a brief look of horror flashes across his face. This is a man who has fought off a ravenous school of piranha armed only with a knife (not joking) without displaying the slightest bit of emotion, yet when he’s forced to play tonsil hockey with an aging whale starlet looks like he’s about to lose his lunch. Hilarious.

Logan's trial for Grimsby Town FC hit an unexpected snag.

The effects, naturally, are crap. Asylum in the extras say that the golden rule of CGI is that you can only have two of the following three things: Fast, Cheap, Good. Except they always want all three. This leads to a lot of terrible fake fish effects. At least this time, though, they use different ones rather than recycling the same lame sequence over and over again. However, it isn’t really fair to judge Asylum on the crapness of their effects- it’s like putting a donkey up against a thoroughbred in the Grand National and then wondering why Eeyore is still at the first fence when the horse finishes. They simply don’t have the time, money or talent to do proper CGI.

I can’t remember the score at all, other than I think Tiffany sang a song. Which I can’t remember either.

The neighbouring restaurants weren't impressed with the new Ramsden chip shop's sign

Overall, this is an OK film, it’s probably the best of the hungry fish trifecta that I’ve seen, but that’s not saying much. In an ideal world, Asylum would have more time and cash to do these things properly, but they don’t and as a result of rushing everything they always feel a lot shoddier than they are. Having said that, though, I’m never going to give a bad rating to a film that was so desperate for female nudity that they went out and hired some local hookers to bare some completely gratuitous skin. Particularly because it kept Mega Tiffany’s norks under wraps. Still, Mega Piranha has moments of genius amongst the mess, and therefore I can cautiously recommend it (with beer, naturally), and astonishingly, Mrs. Jarv really, really enjoyed it. She must be a closet Tiffany fan.

Until next time,

Jarv.

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

50 responses to “Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Mega Piranha”

  1. Droid says :

    I think I’m pretty much done with Asylum. I’ve watched three or four and the concept is always the most amusing part. The films are 95% unrelenting tedium, 5% roll your eyes amusing. They’re also pretty charmless. There’s a huge difference between trying to make a low-rent b-movie but being so talentless that it turns out genius (ie. Samurai Cop) and intentially setting out to try to make a b-movie that’s so bad it’s genius. It doesn’t work when it’s on purpose. Probably the best one I’ve seen was Sharktopus, and even then, it’s still not very good.

    They do make funny trailers though. Because it’s the 5% without the boring crap.

    • Jarv says :

      I’m nearing the end with them. Sharktopus is the last one, then I’m not intentionally touching another “Asylum” film.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        Sharktopus is not an Asylum film. I think Roger Corman produced that one. That’s why it’s actually fun to watch instead of boring as hell.

      • Droid says :

        It’s still released by Asylum isn’t it? Whatever the case, it still felt like it was made with the Asylum blueprint. It was just a little more amusing than the other ones. Which is most likely the Corman factor.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        No, Asylum had nothing to do with it. For which I am grateful.

      • Droid says :

        Okay. It seems a lot like Asylum.

      • Jarv says :

        I thought it was asylum too.

        Is it skiffy? where’s Koutch or Echo. They’d know.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        Just double checked to be sure. Sharktopus was produced by Roger Corman for the SyFy channel. Asylum’s grubby fingerprints are nowhere to be found.

  2. Xiphos0311 says :

    Damn what the hell happened to Tiffany? she used to be very MILFY now she all doughy.

    • Jarv says :

      My thoughts exactly.

      I could have gone with 1 million fat gags here, but limited myself to two or three.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Was she knocked up or was it just fat?

        man that is a sad picture I have not seen one of her in a while and it was shocking how much she let herself go.

      • Jarv says :

        Just fat.

        Depressing. Gibson’s in much better shape nowadays.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        It’s criminal is what it is, she use to be hot.

      • Jarv says :

        Kind of.

        I looked at the playboy pictures (for purely research purposes, natch) and I think she’s airbrushed to hell in them.

      • Droid says :

        Time (and cake) marches on.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Of course it’s airbrushed to hell it’s Playboy. I meant she still looked good if I saw her in something or pictures from events in Hollywood or in interviews. I do concede though it has been awhile since I have seen her and I do tend to favor redheads so my view is a bit skewed.

  3. just pillow talk says :

    Yeah, these flicks are always tough to get through.

    But…I found it amusing when he kicked them and the pirahna were launching themselves into the buildings. Oh, those crazy piranha!

    I do have Piranha coming, I think today.

  4. Frank Marmoset says :

    This one does have a few funny bits here and there (none of them intentional), but it’s mostly just boring.

    Thanks for the review, though. It made me want to watch Piranha 3D again. So I think I’ll do that. Piranha 3D is awesome.

    • Droid says :

      Piranha 3DD comes out at the end of the year, Frankie. A six month turn around from the start of shooting to release. Maybe you could do a Piranha megareview when the new one comes out.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        That’s a damn good idea, Droid.

        I’m waiting for Piranha 3DD like a small child waits for Christmas. Bring on the boobs and killer asshole fish!

    • Jarv says :

      It’s far less boring than the other ones mentioned, though.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        Definitely. I did laugh quite a bit when the guy was kicking all the fish, and I chuckled every time one of those crazy asshole piranha jumped out of the sea and dive bombed a building. It’s one of their ‘better’ films.

      • Jarv says :

        It’s the scuba dive at the end that hurts the film- it’s a chuckles aplenty before that. They have no idea how to shoot finales.

  5. just pillow talk says :

    What the hell was the name of the flick where both Gibson and Tiffany were in? It had giant snakes in it, and I caught literally the last five minutes where Gibson was sitting in a helicopter. Tey are safe and secure above the snakes, and then something makes the helicopter rock back and forth (Tiffany wasn’t on the other side, so…), Gibson falls out onto a bunch of snakes who make a nice meal out of her. Tiffany had already died apparently, and the last shot is some statue with their pictures engraved in it or something like that.

    • Jarv says :

      Mega Python v Gatoroid.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1680138/

      Which you’ve now just convinced me to watch. I’m not convinced a giant asshole snake could eat Tiffany. He’d have to put her in his reptile fridge and come back for seconds.

      • just pillow talk says :

        Aw shit, that’s what it was. Now I can’t remember which ate Gibson at the end.

        Snakes do swallow their prey whole, so there’s a chance. More likely the gators had to rip her apart.

      • Spud McSpud says :

        Yep, that snake ain’t going anywhere for a while. He’s just gonna sit there in the sun, slowly digesting Tiffany for a couple of months 😀

  6. Spud McSpud says :

    Ah, one of the Holy Trinity of Hot Redheads of the late 80s: Tiffany, Belinda Carlisle, and Carol Decker from T’Pau. Time is a cruel bastard, when you see what has become of my gorgeous trifecta.

    Jarv, you’ll LOVE Sharktopus. One of Mrs Spud-To-Be’s new pastimes is putting SyFy or Horror Channel on in the evening and making me watch this kind of shit night after night – which is how I’vwe seen most of thewse Asylum efforts. But SHARKTOPUS… that’s a whole new level of ridiculous. Because, from the first shot, that creature NEVER looks biologically viable! It’s intrinsically impossible! Which, obviously, makes for a great shlock movie.

  7. Droid says :

    The one’s I’ve seen are…

    Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus – Crap except for the funny stuff in the trailer.
    Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus – Crap, except for the funny stuff in the trailer.
    Dinoshark – A now brainless Eric Balfour attempts to one up his iconic turn in Skyline by throwing a grenade at a 65 million year old shark while jumping through the air on a jet ski. Again, all of it’s in the trailer. This is a Corman production, and much better than the Mega Shark films. Still crap though.
    Sharktopus – I watched back to back with Dinoshark and have mixed them up. So equally entertaining as Dinoshark. If I remember rightly, the Sharktopus can get about on land by walking on it’s tentacles. So it’s scientifically accurate.

    • Droid says :

      The thing with these movies is, they’re not made for peanuts. Dinoshark had a budget of $2m. That’s a pretty decent budget for such a crappy looking movie.

      • Jarv says :

        Mega Piranha was Asylum’s most expensive movie ever, and you can tell. Budget $3m.

        The money did end up on screen. If you compare it to either of the Megashark films, they both reuse the exact same sequences, and Crocosaurus reused one from the original film, knowing that nobody could tell the difference. Mega Piranha did at least use different ones every time. I don’t think it’s the budget that’s the problem, it’s that they churn out so fast- and as the man says you can either be fast and expensive or slow and cheap to be good. You can’t be fast and cheap.

      • Droid says :

        That’s one excuse. The other’s the one that explains why they’re charmless. They’re not trying to make a good b-movie. In fact, they’re purposefully trying to make them bad. So they don’t care that they look like shit, repeat special effects, are terribly written and are tragically dull. And that last one’s the killer. If they’re were hilariously entertaining then no one would give a shit about any of the other stuff. In fact, they’d like them even more, and they’d be much more popular. But that’s not the case. They’re made by people who want to make a classic bad movie, but don’t have any idea what makes a bad movie classic. The Corman one’s are a little better because he at least knows his stuff.

      • Jarv says :

        To be fair to the director of Mega Piranha, he had bundles of enthusiasm for the film. He was a young kid, and genuinely excited to be doing it.

        However, and this is the thing, the guy from Asylum was a humourless douchenozzle with one eye on the bottom line all the time. I suspect that the better bits of it (the insane kick the fish sequence) for example were the director.

        The boring and charmless bits were based on the script, and that’s what was really rushed in this case. There aren’t that many nods to other stuff in it, but there are too many bits that are incoherent. Because they’re incoherent they are also inherently dull.

        This comes back to speed. I will bet that humourless Asylum head honcho buys these scripts in bulk for about a tenner and then doesn’t bother doing anything with them- just rushes them into production. They’re the equivalent of a sweatshop, and that’s where the charmlessness comes from.

        Troma make classic B-movies, because there’s always a sly intelligence at work, Corman has made all sorts and, as you say, knows his stuff. Asylum merely reeks of cynicism and rushing.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        It’s the laziness and cynicism that bothers me about Asylum. I’m happy to put up with ropey effects and crappy acting and a score done on a Casio keyboard – all the stuff you usually get in these low budget monster movies – as long as it feels like someone is at least trying to make something fun. But Asylum just seem to churn out any old garbage knowing they’ll make their money back from A) selling it to the SyFy channel, and B) suckers who rent their stuff on video thinking it’s some other film (like their recently released Almighty Thor, starring Richard Grieco).

      • Jarv says :

        It’s the sheer laziness and cynicism that gets to me, and for that I blame Sciffy. They know full well that sciffy will buy these Mega-(Insert animal) films by the boatload, so $3m is coming back fast.

        It’s honestly sweat shop entertainment, pile them high and ship them out,

      • Jarv says :

        Mighty Thor actually is an example of them at their worst. At least the Mega films aren’t ripping off a recent blockbuster. That’s them at their laziest and most cynical.

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, this is what I was getting at with the “they don’t care” comment. It’s about a quick buck. But the thing is, if they actually made them entertaining, they would make twice as much. Because dupes like us would rave about them and we’d all get them as part of our idiotic collection. But since they’re shit and dull, we watch one or two (or three or four in some cases) and badmouth them. It’s a business of diminishing returns if you directly alienate the fanbase you’re relying on for your income.

  8. Continentalop says :

    The monkey is right: Corman made Sharktopus, and Asylum had nothing to do with it.

  9. Bartleby says :

    thank god it isnt as soulless as Jane Austen adaptations.

    Asylum can’t make a good bad movie, and can barely muster a ‘fun’ bad one. Mega Piranha is modestly entertaining. Im not sure Gateroid is a step forward, but I had fun.

    Oddest scene is the catfight where Gibson and Tiffany are wrestling in cake. It’s like one of those specialty videos for nutjobs; Cake Wrestle 10: Tranny vs. Feeder

    Corman on the other hand is better. Dinocroc vs Mega Gator is mediocre to fun, and Sharktopus actually is fun.

    Recently saw Swamp Shark, with Kristy Swanson. Junk.

  10. Bartleby says :

    Also, here’s the best SyFy article I did. They didnt produce all of these, but they do take credit for them on their site, including the one that sits at one, although Im well aware they didnt make it–at all.

    However, this was the first place anyone in the U.S. saw it, and I think they should do more of that..acquistions to bring little seen good movies to us instead of wasting time on this junk.

    As far as a completely produced SYFY movie done by the channel itself, their best is probably Mammoth.

  11. Bartleby says :

    Pain Air (gusts of toxic wind attack sordid lovers in the gothic countryside, causing their heads to come unstuck from their ass).

    Pride and Predators, Monsterfield Park, Wuthering Mites, it goes on and on and on…

  12. ThereWolf says :

    When I’m really bored and I’ve got some time off I’m gonna watch a load of these giant fish movies – if Lovefilm have got them, that is. At least they’re finally threatening to send me ‘Ink’ now…

    Always count on a funny review about giant piranha to spruce up a blue Monday. Cheers.

  13. tombando says :

    It just a lame mstk3 wannabe. I saw debbie g, lamas and the squid thing. Pass.

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