DIRECTED BY: Eric Forsberg
FEATURING: Paul Logan, Tiffany, Barry Williams
PLOT: After genetic experiments get out of hand, the US government must battle giant, flying,
exploding, cannibalistic, hermaphroditic, mutant piranhas.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Mega Piranha is absurd and ridiculous enough for a few giggles over a beer or two (or six), but nothing more.
COMMENTS: Juts a small sampling of things I learned from watching Mega Piranha:
- The State Department doesn’t consider knowledge of Spanish to be a prerequisite for a investigative mission to Venezuela.
- Knowledge of kickboxing is a prerequisite.
- People remember who Tiffany was.
- There are coral reefs along the bottom of South American rivers.
- Piranhas explode when they contact building materials.
- Genetic mutations are always favorable.
- In the navy, you can wear whatever hairstyle you like.
- Steering a helicopter makes the veins in your neck stand out.
- Nuclear weapons have no effect on large fish.
- Piranhas will attack boats, submarines and helicopters because they know there’s meat inside.
- There’s nothing to eat in the ocean, so sea predators need to attack settlements on the coast.
- Fat girls can be love interests, but not until the very last scene.
This list could go on indefinitely (feel free to add more observations in the comments). The point is, Mega Piranha is a self-esteem movie. No matter your age, intelligence, social status, or education, you can feel superior to the folks involved in this production. Not that, for a moment, I believe the filmmakers could possibly be as dumb as the script makes them seem. It’s just that they would obviously rather spend their limited funds on bargain bin piranha CGI and washed-up stars with names that might ring a bell with someone, somewhere, than to waste it on meaningless extras like second drafts and continuity. Writer/director Eric Forsberg has no illusions (I hope) that he’s creating great art here; he understands it’s not plot but mega piranhas that are the draw, and keeps things moving quickly so he can get to scenes like Special Agent Fitch lying on his back booting away the fish that fly directly into his feet, while in the South American riverside village other (much larger) piranhas are jumping into buildings, either exploding or simply sitting there halfway through the roof, with their dorsal fins wagging in the breeze. Forsberg does at least one thing smartly: he keeps the camp tone correctly deadpan, resisting the urge to have the players break character and laugh at their own shenanigans. The lack of winks makes it a much more effective parody: this seriously looks like a script that Michael Bay might have considered, with a few minor script rewrites and a lot more explosions. So, it’s dumb, but is it dumb fun? I’ll put it this way: if you’d ever entertain the idea of watching a movie titled Mega Piranha, you’ll probably be satisfied with this offering. This is the most entertaining movie about mega piranhas, and quite possibly about mega aquatic creatures as a genus, it would be possible to make.
Mega Piranha was a co-production of sorts between The Asylum (makers of microbudget “mockbusters” like Transmorphers intended to rip off box office successes like Transformers) and the SyFy channel (which airs so many made-for-TV losers like Mansquito and Dinsoshark that they probably should rebrand themselves “the Sigh-fi Channel”). The version that aired on television (also the version available on Netflix streaming as of this date) is PG-rated, at worst. The “special edition” DVD adds some gratuitous topless shots and naughty words for an R-rated product.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“…wilfully preposterous cod B-movie… initially amusing but swiftly outstays its welcome as the piranhas develop the ability to fly like fanged double decker buses and the whole caboodle tries just a bit too hard to be knowing.”–Tim Evans, Sky Movies (contemporaneous)