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'Piranha 3-D' satisfies an appetite for blood and circuses

It's been more than 30 years since Joe Dante made Piranha for producer Roger Corman. In his commentary on the new DVD release for the original, Dante says Corman kept demanding "more blood" when he watched the dailies.

If Corman should take the time to visit a theater, put on the goofy glasses and behold the crimson gushers in the all new Piranha 3-D, I think it would bring tears of joy to his eyes.

While the film has some dopey passages, it does have the grisly distinction of being the goriest horror blast in many a year and, for this, I have to give it praise. When a group of spring-breaking college co-eds become fish food in one of the film's final sequences, it's just too good, and beautifully disgusting, to be ignored.

Kudos to director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) for scoring Richard Dreyfuss for an opening-scene cameo. (Hey, it's in the commercials, so I'm not giving anything away. Unless you don't watch TV in which case, yes, I just gave it away.) Dreyfuss, in a nice nod to Jaws, is singing a familiar tune as he's fishing on a lake when a tremor hits, and some nasty prehistoric fish are freed from their underwater prison.

Cut to Lake Victoria (actually, Lake Havasu in Arizona), where vacationing teens are providing headaches for Sheriff Julie Forester (super hot Elisabeth Shue). Her whiny teenaged son Jake (Steven R. McQueen, grandson of the great Steve McQueen) has just scored a spring break job with a Girls Gone Wild rip-off show run by the obnoxious Derrick Jones (Jerry O'Connell, pouring it on thick). Jake ignores his mom and his babysitting duties to go out on the lake with the show, a couple of porn stars and the apple of his eye (Jessica Szohr).

Everything is a setup for the final scenes where the porn boat is attacked and the resort crowd gets shredded. The film screeches to a halt whenever McQueen and his budding romance are the focus, but Shue and a supporting cast that includes Adam Scott, Ving Rhames, Eli Roth and Christopher Lloyd resuscitate things whenever they show up. Lloyd, playing a scientist, actually riffs a little on his Doc Brown persona, while Scott, also playing a scientist, gets a fun chance to play superhero on a jet ski.

After a couple of live-action 3-D movies that just didn't cut it (Clash of the Titans, Alice in Wonderland), it's great to see somebody take the technology back to its B-movie roots. It's also great to see somebody branch off those B-movie roots and create something altogether outrageous for the modern 3-D era.

Among the scenes of carnage (provided, in part, by the great Gregory Nicotero) you will witness are a woman getting her hair caught in a boat propeller; a badly shredded woman's rescue attempt coming to a grisly, fatal conclusion; and Cabin Fever director Eli Roth paying the price for judging one of those shameful wet T-shirt contests.

Did I mention all of the 3-D boobs and butts? Aja has cast an assortment of porn stars and beauties to truly give your magic 3-D glasses a full frontal X-rated workout (I stand surprised that this film managed to get an R). There is an underwater naked ballet scene that is a majestic wonder to behold, and a hilarious setup for the hell that is to come.

Look, this kind of movie is what it is. I'm sure the budget wouldn't allow for a bloodfest from beginning to end, so you wind up having to endure some lousy family drama and more than a few people who simply can't act. I assure you, the payoff is worth your $78.50, or whatever the hell they are charging for 3-D movies these days.

Piranha 3D
Rated R · 88 minutes · 2010
Official Site: piranha-3d.com
Director: Alexandre Aja
Producer: Mark Canton, Marc Toberoff, Alexandre Aja, Grégory Levasseur, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Alix Taylor, Louis G. Friedman, J. Todd Harris and Chako van Leeuwen
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfuss, Kelly Brook, Riley Steele, Paul Scheer, Brooklynn Proulx, Sage Ryan and Eli Roth

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More by Bob Grimm

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Portland Mercury Jerry O'Connell's Penis—in 3D! It is your solemn duty to see Piranha 3D. by Dave Bow 08/19/2010
Boise Weekly The Projector: Movies opening Friday, Aug. 20 Deadly fish, missing bees, big money, a lonely guy, a writing lesson, detained immigrants, Olympians under the stars and one really pissed off chick. It's all at the movies. 08/20/2010
The Coast Halifax Piranha 3D bites the end off of summer Alexandre Aja's flick packs in-your-face blood splatter. by Hillary Titley 08/26/2010
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Memphis Flyer Treading water in 3D by Addison Engelking 08/26/2010
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