If asked to come up with stories about terrifying creatures of the deep, one might think of such legendary examples as Jaws and Moby Dick. Somewhere along the line, you might come up with Giant Shark Vs Mega Octopus, but probably based entirely on the name as it’s unlikely that many of you would have seen it.
Some of you with either a good memory or a love for the oldies might also think of Piranha, the 1970’s classic about a shoal of killer nibblers. There’s no denying that Piranha are terrifying, so it was probably just a matter of time before they were given the super-size treatment – by none other than the same team behind Giant Shark Vs Mega Octopus.
When an unlikely looking American ambassador and one of his politician buddies are partying on a small boat on the amazon somewhere, they’re unfortunate to come across some large, mutated, super aggressive piranha. Flying out of the water and onto the boat, these killer fish finish off the passengers and even the boat, leaving the world on the brink of a political crisis.
Thinking that terrorists could be to blame and fearing a situation that could have global implications, the US government sends one man (yes, only one) to do a bit of underwater investigation.
This man, known as ‘Fitch’ arrives in South America and makes contact with a group of American scientists who think that the deaths may have been something to do with the genetic experiments that they have been doing – making piranha grow really big (not sure what the original goals were with that piece of research, but it was always going to turn sour). Although Fitch has loyalties to the native military, he soon realises that the scientists are right and teams up with them to put an end to the growth of the mutant piranha.
Jumping out of the water and into boats at just the right time isn’t the only thing that these fish can do though. They’re still growing, and super-fast. They’re also becoming more deadly and resilient to attack as they mutate. Fitch and the team don’t have long to put and end to this menace before they take over the whole world – well the bits very near water at least.
You can tell by the title that Mega Piranha was never intended to take itself too seriously. The over-played genetic mutation card (right up there with the radioactive mutation) is now only adopted by films that are having some fun.
Billed as a modern B-movie, Mega Piranha certainly has the important elements: silly, unlikely story; hammy acting; lead actor who is chosen for his looks rather than ability; and special effects that are at times laughable.
But haven’t things changed a little? B-movies are a thing of the past. Mainly made in the 70’s and 80’s, these were films that had tiny budgets and looked bad because they were never going to be able to find the resources needed to make a film that could be taken seriously. Bad actors weren’t chosen because they were bad, they were chosen because, well, no-one else wanted to be involved. Special effects were bad because you needed a hell of a lot money to make them convincing – if you wanted to show a car blowing up, you actually had to blow up a car.
Now these aren’t really issues, it leaves films such as Mega Piranha in an uncomfortable place. If the makers had the money and cast to make a film which isn’t bad, then why did they?
The cast certainly seem to be acting like they’re taking things seriously, and the budget certainly isn’t tiny. It’s highly likely that somewhere in the chain of command of directors and producers, someone wanted this to be taken mores seriously than it has been. And with the mixed agendas along the way, the end result feels a little muddled.
If the film was really intended to be a fun b-style movie, it really could have been more amusing. Instead, Mega Piranha does dry up at times, giving unnecessary details and straying too far from the action. If this film is meant to be fun, then give us some more fun!
At one point, Fitch has to fight off a dozen or so piranha with his feet, That’s the sort of craziness that this horror movie needed more of.
To some extent, the way that you feel about this movie could depend on the situation that you watch it in. The people promoting Mega Piranha in the UK held a big party at which the movie was screened and in this fun atmosphere the film went down really well. So perhaps it’s just not the sort of film that you sit down and watch quietly on your own.
So to summarise. Mega Piranha is a so-so movie with some crazy moments which has been let down by its lack of balance. If you want to watch a horror movie, this probably isn’t for you. If you want to watch a comedy horror, this probably isn’t for you. But if you and a bunch of friends want to watch a film that you can point and laugh at and one that needs little concentration then Mega Piranha could be just the ticket.