Jude Gerard Prest
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Mega Pirahna (2010)
1st Nov 10
Something that looks like it once fed from 80’s pop starlet Tiffany battles against something that looks like something even 80’s computers might have rejected for looking too naff. It’s an Asylum picture.
A movie with a title so good it appears on screen twice at the start, Mega Piranha is The Asylum’s characteristically shoddy follow-up to Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, released to anticipate Dimension’s 3-D Piranha, which has approximately 297 more boobies. It has a neat bit of stunt casting (Tiffany) to make it a true companion piece to the earlier creature feature, which starred her 80’s pop star rival Debbie Gibson. If we were the sort to indulge in pointless nostalgia, we would point out that Debbie Gibson was the hotter of the two in 1988 but her songs (nicely summed up by “Shake Your Love”, the kind of pop tune that could only exist in a Godless universe) were much more likely to induce anal vomiting.
The career wasteland that goes by the name of 2010 provokes us to conclude (depressingly) that Debbie Gibson is a stronger screen presence than Tiffany, though the latter’s rendition of “I Think We’re Alone Now” on Top of the Pops while clad in a big furry jumper remains a defining life-moment for yours truly. The existence of Mega Piranha inevitably makes you wonder if there are talks at the moment to get Belinda Carlisle to star in a movie called Uber-Tortoise Vs Giant Whippet. And surely it’s time there were more straight to video CG monster movies starring Sonia, the UK’s nearest equivalent to Chernobyl in terms of unpleasantness and lasting devastation?
On the Orinoco River, the American ambassador and associated Venezuelan politicians perish when their boat is downed by particularly virulent piranha fish. Needless to say, everything is blamed on terrorists (“We don’t want another Afghanistan on our hands”) but the truth lies with Genetic Professor Tiffany and her team, embroiled with UN-sanctioned “hydra-biological experiments” on piranha fish to make them more robust and thus help the food supply. The results (surprise!) are an uncontrollable school of monster-fish that have escaped captivity and are growing at a rapid rate. Thank fuck, then, for unsmiling walking-parody Paul Logan, a Hard Man hero with a single facial expression and no apparent charisma - the latter perhaps being a sad inevitability for a guy who is one letter short of being Paul Hogan. Typical of the movie’s throwaway nature, he displays not a jot of romantic chemistry with Tiffany throughout, yet the final scene sees them enjoying an out-of-nowhere, genuinely disturbing kiss.
In truth, this is a livelier, more amusing foray into goofy B-movie making than the mostly dull Mega Shark. It’s full of laugh-out-loud funny dialogue that apparently (if the EPK featurette is anything to go by, in which the cast and crew seem to be under the impression they’ve made something legitimately good) was intended to be sincere : “It wasn’t terrorists, it was giant piranha…”. Kudos both to the hilarious local Colonel with a chip on his shoulder about the U.S. (“We’re not children!”) and to the square-jawed hero for his appropriate “What the fuck?!” moment after a giant cartoon piranha has flown out of the water at him. Meanwhile, Tiffany - who “sings” the end credits song - looks and acts like the director got his awkward mom to be the star of the movie, displaying no acting ability whatsoever and prone to loopy screamy rants along the lines of “I just wanna kill them all!!” and “Oh no! Oh no!!!”. Surely everything was better in 1988...?!
The special effects are perhaps one fifth of a shade more convincing than those in Mega Shark. We get more of them, too, if this is your bag. Cue lots of amusing scenes of said cartoonish, Pacman-ish giant fish leaping into buildings, getting impaled on lighthouses, and patiently queuing up so they can be kicked away one at a time while our hero lies on the beach. There is a Deep Blue Sea moment of a character eaten in mid-speech and the (no) money-shot moment of the Mega Piranha leaping out of the sea to eat a helicopter. Ultimately, these monster fish (which, even though this allegedly cost $5 million, aren’t a good deal better than the birds in Birdemic) survive a nuclear explosion and head to South Florida, where approximately six extras run, panic and get flattened by the grace-lessly landing creatures. Poster quote coming up : “It’s a lot better than anal-vomiting but makes you yearn for 1988, which can never be a good thing.”