COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 93 mins
PLOT: Due to genetic altering, an escaped school of piranha fish are not only on a never-ending feeding frenzy but are also growing quite large, quite quickly, as they make their way to more populated areas.
REVIEW: What can I say about Mega Piranha other then I loved it? It took me a bit by surprise as I thought every other 'Mega' movie by Asylum has so far been mediocre at best and didn't quite live up to the surrounding hype, so I wasn't expecting much from this one either. But by the time the credits started rolling, I was left staring at the screen in wonder at what I had just watched: One really kick ass Asylum-made Mega Monster flick!
Sure, it was made solely to cash in on the then-upcoming summer release of the bigger budget theatrical remake of the famous 70's creature feature Piranha, but that didn't stop it from being any less awesome. Actually, while I have not yet seen that remake, I have seen both the original Piranha and the first remake from the 90's, and I can say with complete honesty that I enjoyed this direct-to-video mockbuster far more then I did either of those.
The movie starts off on a small enough scale, with just a seemingly-regular school of piranha fish in Venezuela on an unexplained feeding frenzy, but it's not until they chomp down on some visiting U.S. senators that a U.S. Government Agent is sent in to investigate, and from there things only go from bad to worse as he discovers, with the help of the brainy scientist who created them (played by 80's pop sensation Tiffany), that not only are the piranhas growing and will keep growing indefinitely, but they're also moving up the water system to the ocean (And yes, the characters are just as surprised as the viewer is at the fact that they shouldn't be able to survive in salt water, but are able to). That gives this movie something that I feel the other Mega Monster movies didn't – a pace of urgency. With the other ones I've seen, the monster or monsters are out there, killing people, sure, but other then that there's no real rush to kill it. In this one, they're racing against the clock to stop the piranhas from reaching the ocean for if they do, they'll never be able to be stopped and the rest of the world will be their feeding grounds.
Most other Mega Monster movies start with the monster being large and is just about the military hunting it down and killing it, where as this one they start off at normal size and we're right there with the characters as they try to stop what they think (at first anyway) is just a small problem, as it grows and grows (both the problem and the fish), becoming more and more dire every few minutes, and adding to the above-mentioned urgency. It has a rate of escalation that many other Mega Monster movies just don't have. Where all those movies start large and remain there, this one starts small and keeps growing as the movie continues on.
Another fine point is that, some select scenes and minor characters aside, the acting in this is actually quite good for an Asylum-made movie and definitely helped sell it to me. There was actually one actor, that while I felt his character was more or less useless after the first 30 minutes and his plot ultimately went nowhere (The Venezuelan military General), I never got tired of seeing him on screen because I thought the actor did such an excellent job at stealing every scene he was in and he chewed the hell out of the scenery. It's rare that the most useless main character is also my favorite, and it's all owed to how well he was portrayed.
Along with the better-then-average acting are also the better-then-average-for-Asylum effects for this kind of movie. From the tiny fish, to the bigger rubber versions, right up to the CGI battleship-sized monstrosities, the effects never failed to impress me with these animals, and the effects for them were on full display in many of the great attack scenes, such as when the small school first kills people in the opening scenes, to the slightly-larger rubber version leaping out of the water just to get knifed by our main hero (played excellently by Paul Logan), or when the giant fish propel themselves out of the water and right into clusters of buildings and exploding on impact (for whatever reason), or when they take down a submarine and battleship - They got plenty of screen time, and it was all used to cheesy perfection. The budget on this movie must have been much higher then Asylum normally works with and as far as I'm concerned, it was money very well spent.
If I were to complain about anything, the only part of the movie where I can find room for that would be the ending. Nothing too major, but I thought the way they ultimately dispatched of the massive school of growing Mega Piranhas, didn't really make any sense. You see, first they try to nuke them and the blast is a direct hit, but by that point there were just too many of them and they were just too large that it didn't really do anything beyond temporarily knock them out. So Paul Logan's character comes up with the idea of ripping open one and the blood will send the others into a feeding frenzy. Ok, fine. Sounds good. Except that there's no reason given at all as to why the fish would suddenly start to turn on each other, beyond that one injured fish. And the thing is, whenever we see a shot of them they aren't eating each other, only that one fish. And then the heroes congratulate each other and celebrate and the movie ends. Huh? But the plan didn't even work. At least not that we, the viewer, saw. And even if it did, isn't it quite possible that some...hell, even one...either survived the feeding frenzy or wasn't even around to partake in it? But they never explore that. The characters just assume that plan killed all of them.
And what was with that kiss between Tiffany and Paul Logan at the end? Nowhere in the movie did it even hint in the slightest bit at a romantic relationship between the two. Talk about coming out of left field. Over all though I didn't let the ending bother me too much as it's just one tiny part of an otherwise great movie.
If this movie is any indication of how future Mega Monster movies by The Asylum will be going, then I'd say they have a bright future in store for them in this market.
9/10 rooms in the Psych Ward