Notes from the back row 

Blood in the water

Some people judge the quality of a film by how much bloodshed it has in it. I am one of those people. I also enjoy cinematic masterpieces with girl-on-girl action, shower scenes, ridiculously unrealistic one-liners and explosions. Severed torsos and/or creative beheadings are always awesome too.

Does this mean I can't appreciate something character-driven like Barfly ? No, but it most certainly means I can appreciate Piranha 3D - an 88-minute masterpiece opening this week that has all of the above plus a person getting scalped by a boat motor propeller. Hard to beat that.

Gore-tastic French director Alexandre Aja ( High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake) realizes that any decent fish movie is going to follow the Jaws formula but these days it's all about finding a creative way for your fish to attack a beach community. Bonus points if the victims are scantily clad.

Aja's fish are prehistoric man-eating piranhas unleashed when an underwater tremor opens up a "descending fissure" into the land before time. Of course all of this occurs right below a resort full of hypersexed college kids on spring break.

Elizabeth Shue ( Adventures in Babysitting, Leaving Las Vegas) stars as the sheriff in charge of being unrealistically hot for her job and Richard Dreyfuss reprises his role from Jaws in a clever cameo. Eli Roth (director of Hostel) also cameos as the emcee of a wet t-shirt contest. His exit is phenomenal.

Piranha 3D is obviously supposed to be seen in 3D so I guess Whistler viewers will miss out on what looks like some killer visuals of swimming through weedy lakebeds and propellers jutting into our faces. Alexandre Aja previewed nine minutes of the film at San Diego Comic Con a few weeks ago and everything from the dinosaur-looking fish to the decomposed sunken corpses to the puking-right-at-camera looked amazing. Add in the fact that Aja reportedly used over 7,000 imperial gallons of fake blood (by contrast Kill Bill Vol. 1 used only 300 gallons) and Piranha 3D just might be the best movie of the summer... for people like me.

For the rest of you, Nanny McPhee Returns also opens Friday with a star-studded cast and a re-hashed, easy-bake Mary Poppins concept. And Vampires Suck opened Wednesday but it's one of those stupid parody-comedies from the makers of Scary Movie. This time they mainly go after the Twilight crowd and the result sucks so much that even sexually frustrated teenage boys smoking pot for the first time will probably get bored less than an hour into this shitheap.

The DVD of the week, for the second week running, is 1981's Piranha 2: The Spawning which basically rips off the plot of the first Piranha (government-modified killer fish? Again?) but this time the little beasts can survive out of the water and ...ah....fly.  Sounds stupid right? Sure, but it starts with a killer underwater second-base-sex/death scene with a girl who looks a hell of a lot like Phoebe Cates, who would have been 17 at the time.

As well, Piranha 2 was directed by James Cameron and despite the hand-puppet fish and obvious B-Grade-ness of it all, Canadian-born Cameron went on to write and direct the two highest-grossing movies of all time, Avatar and Titanic, as well as Aliens, The Abyss and Terminator 1 and 2. So I guess the moral is that bloody, gory, soft-porn movies are the Breakfast of Champions. Which is probably why so many people like them.

Next week - Robert Rodriguez's Machete started as a joke trailer but was so awesome looking it's now a real film.

 

 

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