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observation notes: Mega Piranha

"They were created to save mankind. Something went wrong."

Something always does.

The Asylum's answer to Alexandre Aja's mega-hit Piranha 3D, released months in advance of the big-budget gore-fest, ups the ante infinitely by making the hungry little Amazonian buggers not so little at all.

The film opens with the genre-tested maxim that you can let a hot chick lead you to water, but it's only going to get you eaten, in this case by a school of enraged and rapidly-growing Venezuelan piranha. From these horny bathers the school moves on to topless party-boaters and a pair of sleazy politicians, one of whom is the ridiculously corpulent ambassador to the United States. Well, you know we don't play that shit, so cue special forces operative and The Asylum's #1 badass, Paul Logan. While he's amassing weapons of massive-piranha annihilation, former pop sensation and COMMITTED-favorite Tiffany, starring here as some sort of fish scientist, along with her team of other fish scientists - the same team, as fate would have it, whose DNA tampering is responsible for this mega-problem - is discovering the danger for themselves. Tiffany, ever the moralist, breaks protocol to alert PL to the danger and enlist his help against both the Mega Piranha and the local, typically-stubborn and lazily-tyrannical military honchos. PL, at the behest of CIA director Greg Brady, decides to trust Tiff and go rogue, and it isn't long before this decision proves fruitful: they have to admit the piranha are getting mega, getting mega all the time, and, naturally, heading for every river system in the western hemisphere.

What ensues from here is a two-way struggle for our heroes, against both the mega piranha and the egotistical lieutenant seemingly hellbent on making a bad situation worse for no reason whatsoever. It's all spoilers from here on in, so I'll back off but to say it also becomes a struggle against time, because there's no ceiling to just how mega these piranha can get; by the end of the day, they'll be the size of whales - fucking whales - with no sign of cellular stabilization in sight. Meaning they could grow to the size of what? The Queen Mary? A skyscraper? Cleveland? That's fucking Mega, folks.

As for the FX, Tiny Juggernaut once again brings home the bacon, making the piranha equally fearsome and ferocious, no matter what their size, though things get proportionally more awesome the bigger they get, especially once they start stampeding and going all kamikaze and shit on coastal communities. Writer/Director and Asylum-staple Eric Forsberg (Sex Pot, Alien Abduction) shoots this one a little differently than other Asylum films, choosing a style slightly reminiscent of Crank or Smokin' Aces with ample title cards and McG-esque color schemes and quick cuts, and even motion-tampering. The fight scenes - that is the fights between PL and the MP - are especially cool, with an extra tip of the hat to the kick-fighting scene, and there are a few death scenes a la Deep Blue Sea that nearly made me spill my SoCo and Sprite (I'm amidst a no-beer bet with my wife).

As for performances, you guys know how I feel about Tiffany. I think she's the greatest thing to happen to the genre since Roy Scheider, I honestly do, and I think she's got a lot of room to grow the more and more films of this ilk she makes (re: Necrosis, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid ((fingers x-ed))), but here, well, how to say...let's just leave it at, I knew I was watching a pop star act.

Paul Logan, on the other hand, never plays an Asylum role he wasn't built for, and here is no exception. PL commands the screen with the prowess of a young Stallone and the steely gaze of Jason Statham. Charming, aggressive and snarky, and - I know I've said it before - but he's still got the best run of anyone in The Asylum's stable.

Rounding out the cast, as mentioned, is Greg "my name is Barry Williams, dammit" Brady as the CIA director. More often than not Greg's on screen by himself talking into a Blackberry, shot beneath blue or green lights, making him more than reminiscent of Howie Mandel in Little Monsters. But I didn't disbelieve him in the role, so that's something.

All in all, Mega Piranha isn't the best film The Asylum's made that starts with "Mega," but if you look away from some stilted dialogue and wordy scientific exposition, what you end up with is a fun, frightening Saturday night, and there ain't a damn thing wrong with that.


  1. I watched this one this evening--got the Blu-ray for 5 bucks--did a sight-unseen commentary on it. A lot of fun. Barry was great, but it was disappointing to see him literally phoning it in and never mixing it up with the piranhas. Tiffany was great and even Logan delivered--I haven't seen him before, I don't think. Now the piranhas, on the other hand, in my opinion, could have used a little more character....

  2. BW was such a non presence for me in this film i often forget he was in it. mike lookinland would've made us remember him, believe that. Tiffany was great, but i suspect she'll be even better in MPvG, and Logan, for my buck, is always good. check him out in MegaFault and Ballistica (if they ever actually release it) for examples of his work. and the piranhas, well, viciousness goes a long way in a scenario like this, but perhaps you're right, en masse they didn't have the sinister allure of a single menacing threat, say like something whose hump resembles a snowhill...

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