As the unending debate of “Greatest Horror Remakes” wages on, Alexandre Aja’s tearin’-flesh Piranha 3D continually rolls off my tongue. Maybe not #1, maybe not #3, but Aja’s “Lake Victoria” massacre (aka Arizona’s Lake Havasu) attacks spring break festiveness with unparalleled practical ferocity. Jaws homages, nude underwater synchronized ballets, Eli Roth playing a wet t-shirt contest host who gets his head cracked open by two colliding boats – what *doesn’t* Piranha 3D offer? I present – in my humble opinion, of course – a lead contender for horror’s most enjoyably gruesome good time in the last decade. A Drinking With The Dread entry where the film doesn’t actually *need* my booze boost – but it sure as hell works.
Movies like Warner Brothers’ The Meg shoot for PG-13 because younger audiences can bolster box office numbers. Piranha 3D, on the other hand, revels in way-mature bodily mutilation as razor-sharp teeth rip skin and muscle from bone. Reports suggest an estimated seventy-five thousand gallons of fake blood were used each day on set, most of which stained crystal waters deep red during Lake Victoria’s munchy grand finale. Torn-open torsos, Jerry O’Connell’s exposed skeleton, halved porn stars, all chewed up and spit out by none other than master practical effects guru Greg Nicotero (and his team). Hungry piranhas gobble everything from severed wee-wees to British supermodels and it’s bloody with a capital B-L-O-O-O-O-O-O-D.
Casting is packed to the gills with big names and powerhouse genre performances. Our first indication? Richard Dreyfuss shows up as a drunk fisherman listening to “Show Me The Way To Go Home.” Full Matt Hooper attire. Aja makes an immediate statement because not only are audiences treated to a nifty little throwback, but the message issued rings louder than Dreyfuss getting picked apart in a swirling piranha cyclone. Dreyfuss signed onto Piranha 3D and put his aquatic horror legacy on the line. That’s one heavy seal of approval.
Elisabeth Shue takes control as Lake Victoria’s sheriff Julie Forester, tasked with keeping drunken spring breakers safe from their own inebriated stupidity AND carnivorous piranhas who crash festivities. Ving Rhames her burly deputy, Adam Scott as seismologist diver Novak Radzinsky, Christopher Lloyd the film’s resident crazy-old truther, O’Connell as sleazy “Wild Wild Girls” founder Derrick Jones (Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis was pissed), Paul Scheer his sidekick cameraman, Riley Steele and Kelly Brook as Derrick’s “actresses” – everybody knows the movie they’re making. Everyone jumps on board full-throttle. Everyone splashes around and accepts their fates so giddily. As
fish food an ensemble cast, it doesn’t get much better.
Whenever selecting a goopy group-party horror watch, Piranha 3D is first-choice material. Multiple sequences marry vicious schools of CGI maneaters, frenzied underwater feasting and revoltingly astounding levels of gore. Every single second spent on Lake Victoria is one slip away from piranha devastation and we feel that dreadful tension, but never at a detriment to humor. “Dying To Get Wet” reads the Wild Wild Girls banner, and we’re dying for the same thing. Bless Lake Havasu for allowing Alexandre Aja to stain its sands red via one showstopping Normandy beach reimagining where Ving Rhames grabs a motorboat propeller and goes down slicing fishy foes to chum. Oh, what grotesque fun there is to be had.
Highlight moments include but are not limited to:
- “They Took My Penis!”
- Saving Private Ryan, but with piranhas.
- Riley Steele and Kelly Brook’s elegant choreography (they practiced for two weeks).
- Seismologist divers find more than they bargained for.
- Cheerleader split.
- Down the drain opening.
- Eyeball snack.
- That sweet, delicious third act.
Without further adieu, it’s time to dive head-first into Piranha 3D‘s Drinking With The Dread rules!
- Drink every time someone says the word “lake.”
- Drink every time someone says a word that references female breasts (“boobs,” “jugs,” “tits” – Piranha 3D has ‘em all).
- Drink every time someone says “Spring Break” or the words “Spring Break” are shown.
- Drink every time practical effects make you wince (or cheer).
- Drink TWICE whenever a piranha swarm attacks.
- Drink TWICE for every blood-cloud bubble geyser (only do this ONCE for the “payoff” massacre).
- TAKE A SHOT in honor of Deputy Fallon (Ving Rhames) during his last stand.
Since it’s “Aquatic Horror” month on Dread Central, who am I to deny y’all another summer-themed drinking game? Also, how can I pass up an opportunity to honor Piranha 3D? As we get farther into my Drinking With The Dread legacy, it’s becoming clearer which movies are best suited for alcoholic infusions. “So bad it’s good” is often a proper starting point, but pure unfiltered monster chaos has the same effect. Piranha 3D never relents and keeps pressure applied, leading to many shared gasps and laughs from collective watchers. Add some beers and you don’t have to tell me twice how your night will end.
Alexandre Aja, we celebrate your third horror remake (after Mirrors and The Hills Have Eyes) along with every severed appendage, floating carcass and screaming spring breaker. Ving Rhames, we toast Deputy Fallon as he “goes out” engines revving (bless Piranha 3DD). Here’s to all the bikini sexiness of students gone wild mixing with even wilder prehistoric creatures unleashing their most primitive instincts. Step on in, the water’s fine. It’s just got a viscous slickness that won’t wash away no matter how hard you try. Happy drinking and don’t forget your swimmies!