Sunday, August 22, 2010

Piranha 3D

I've been kind of out of it the last week or so. Right around the time of my last post, I started feeling the beginnings of a cold that ended up really knocking me off my feet for a few days. I've been pretty susceptible to them the last few years for some reason, after years of virtual immunity. Not sure what happened but this one was a real doozy. Fortunately, the worst of it was over the weekend so I didn't miss any work. And speaking of work, this past week they moved my entire department downstairs to an area Suze calls "witness protection." It's pretty secluded. The good news is I have a window seat again. The bad news is it's only temporary. In a few months, they're moving us back up to our new permanent space that I have to say I'm not too thrilled (or optimistic) about. But whatever. It's just a job. As long as the paycheck finds me, I don't care where they put me.

As a result of this, I haven't been online much. I've been pretty wasted when I get home at night, usually falling asleep in front of the T.V. I've rented a few of the recent Roger Corman re-issues including GALAXY OF TERROR and FORBIDDEN WORLD. My god, what crap. I was scratching my head wondering why these movies have such devoted followings. Then, in the special features, one of the directors hit it on the head. It was a combination of the brilliantly lurid publicity art and the basic unavailability of the films. I admit, based on the movie posters, I'd worked myself into a near-frenzy of wanting to see them. And boy, did they suck. The best of the lot (and the one I purchased on Blu-ray because NetFlix didn't carry it) was HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. And by "best of the lot", I don't mean that it's any good. But there are some nice special features and a decent James Horner score to keep it from being a total waste of money.

All this brings me to PIRANHA 3D, Alexandre Aja's remake of the Joe Dante original made for Roger Corman's New World Pictures. I have vaguely pleasant memories of the original so I was looking forward to the remake, now in theaters. I absolutely love any movie about creatures in the water. If you want to plant my butt in the seat, call your movie DEEP BLUE SEA, FROM THE DEPTHS or, hell, even SHARKTOPUS. I don't care what it's about. If there's even a hint of sea creatures, I'm down.

The trailer makes it seem like a goofy, campy summer creature feature. (And it is.) But I'm familiar with Aja's work (He directed HAUTE TENSION, one of the most brutally stomach-turning movies I've ever seen.), so I was pretty sure I could expect some real nastiness. And he didn't disappoint. I saw the flick today and I'm frankly shocked that a lot of the stuff in this picture made it past the MPAA. One shot in particular was so disgustingly gratuitous and shocking I couldn't help but laugh. But at the same time, I really wish it wasn't in there. It's not that I'm for censorship. It just seemed pointless.

I really enjoyed the movie. It had all the fun, gratuitous booby shots (but oddly, no sex) of a Roger Corman film but with the budget, script, performances and special effects that were always missing from those cheap-o quickies. This film has pretty much everything you'd want from a guilty pleasure schlock spades. I just wish it had been longer. There was a lot of set up at the beginning. And while it was fun set-up, I don't know that I'd want to sit through all that again. Boobies or no boobies. I can see me just skipping ahead to the big set-piece at the end of the film which is truly epic...just too short. Aja is at his stomach-turning best in this film but there's a real sense of 80's horror fun here that's lacking in the rest of his films that I've seen.

I also enjoyed seeing Christopher Lloyd and Elizabeth Shue again. But Shue is playing the mother of a 17-year-old boy. The math might be right but she looked really good in this movie and I had a hard time buying her as that age. (I still have trouble accepting that I'm old enough to have a kid in college.) I had the same problem with Kari Wuhrer in EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS.

Now for the griping. My problem isn't with the film. It's with the idiots cutting together trailers these days. It's bad enough that trailers lately are pretty much short-form versions of the films themselves. But now there seems to be a trend where they include the final shot of the film in the trailer. There is a huge spoiler in the trailer for PIRANHA 3D. I started to realize it about two-thirds of the way in. I won't mention it if you've avoided the trailer but still want to see the film. But it was pretty irritating. The same thing happened with one of my favorite horror movies of the last decade, QUARANTINE. The last shot wasn't just in the trailer, it was on the movie poster. Do producers have so little confidence in their films these days that they feel they have to reveal everything upfront to get people to watch them? Even more irritatingly, there were a couple of shots I remembered from the trailer that weren't even in the movie. Including one iconic shot shown in the photo up above.

And one last gripe. STOP WITH THE 3D ALREADY!!! I've almost reached the point where I don't care what the movie is, if it's in 3D, I'm not going. I don't care if it is the "future of film." I've seen three films this year that were in 3D and only AVATAR was even remotely improved by it. It's a gimmick. And not a gimmick worth an extra 4 dollars on the price of the ticket. That's right. I paid 14 dollars to see PIRANHA today. If I had waited 3 months, I could buy the DVD for the same price when it's released. And if I'd waited six months, I could get it in the bargain bin for even less. Without having to watch it wearing stupid glasses that kept making my actual glasses slide down my nose, forcing me to spend 90 minutes with my index finger pressed between my eyes. I'm done being robbed by movie studios.

Okay, that's about it. I'm all settled in to my new space at work so, hopefully, I can get some sketching done at some point. I've also finished the script for part four of HAND ME DOWN HORROR. I just need to work out a title. That seems to be the hardest part of this whole enterprise. The first three chapters just popped into my head but this issue didn't have a clear "hook" that suggested a title. I've been scratching my head on that for a week now and still nothing. Wish me luck.



Dean Trippe said...

Agreed 100%. 3D looks terrible.

Josh said...

I think 3D's cool, but not every movie needs to be 3D. Technically 3D is the past or present of film. It's been around since at least the '50s.

PJ said...

3D doesn’t improve a bad plot, crappy acting or horrid direction. It’s like a lot of things, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should and even then you should be using your judgment about when you use it (sparingly).

I think Avatar was the last movie I saw in a theater and even then I came away unimpressed. Part of it had to do with gigantic plot holes (let’s see... we have interstellar travel but to get around on the planet we use helicopters) and a very simplistic story.

Movie trailers long ago stopped holding any sense of enticement when they started giving you a mini version of the film in the trailer. One of the reasons I liked Grindhouse so much was because it reminded me of going to movies back in the seventies.

Paul Rogers said...

Hiya Matt! So, you like Sea Creature movies, do you? How about a remake of 'MegaShark Vs. Giant Octopus'..With the added bonus of 'MegaPiranha' 3D at your local cinema, now that's something to complain about! Aaahhhh, Guilty Pleasures!

Brian said...

Elizabeth Shue = Yummy Mommy - nuff said.

I have not seen a 3D movie outside of the ones at Disney World and have no intention as wearing those glasses for 90 to 120 minutes is not my idea of fun.

As for giving away the story in the trailers, etc., I hear you Matt, but it is my understanding that the marketing research done by the movie studioes has shown that the majority of folks going to movies these days want to know what they are seeing before they put their money down.

Personally, I avoid all details about movies I have any interest in seeing as I like to be surprised, but I'm in my last year of the most desired consumer demographic, so I'm going to have to start getting used to my opinion not mattering to the entertainment powers that be.

Finally, glad to hear you're feeling better.

todd said...

"I'm done being robbed by movie studios."

ha! probably not.
: )

love your spoilerless review, matt, and can't wait to see it myself! sounds like a whole lotta fun! i bet i can get dad to go with me--since you and that christian guy live so freakin' far a way...!

i know you need to find one for yourself but, how about a title that is totally 180ยบ from what the story actually is--which is awesome!--"this sucks."

Suzanne said...

Elizabeth shue was in karate kid, a Fave
movie of mine when I was a pre-teen....and my own kid is nearly 11 now. And I did not have kids early! I'd say ES is old enough to have college age kids, easy.

Aforesaid kid is fascinated with the trailers for pirhana. Glad to know it's really not for him!

Warren said...

3D is sorta stupid to me. It's not any better than the time they tried it in the 50's and 60's. Gimmick. That's it.

Now, if they make holographic movies you can watch without wearing special gear, that will be worth a few extra dollars for a ticket. :)