April 10, 2010 saw the release of Mega Piranha, which debuted on the SyFy network. The film was obviously intended to ride the coattails of Alexandre Aja’s Piranha remake of the same year. Produced and released by The Asylum, Mega Piranha follows the company’s pattern of releasing “mockbusters”, low-budget fare with similar titles and plotlines as current mainstream movies. To be fair, no one is going to confuse Mega Piranha with Piranha. They have almost nothing in common with each other, except both belonging to the piranha micro-genre. Mega Piranha was a huge success for SyFy, with its debut attracting 2.2 million viewers.
The plot of Mega Piranha actually does show some initial promise. The film’s opening scene shows the United States Ambassador to Venezuela being wined and dined by a Venezuelan diplomat on a boat on the Orinoco River in Venezuela. The boat is swarmed by piranha, killing everyone on board and creating an international incident. Special Agent Jason Fitch is dispatched to Venezuela to determine the nature of the attack, at this time suspected to be a terrorist attack. Fitch is presumably C.I.A., although it’s not entirely clear, and he has a direct line of communication with Secretary of State Bob Grady (played by Barry Williams, “Greg Brady” from the The Brady Bunch).
On arrival into Venezuela Fitch is first met by Professor Sarah Monroe (played by former pop star Tiffany), a UNESCO fisheries expert who is working to help provide sustainable fisheries for the Venezuelan population. Her research team had developed a strain of mutant super-piranha who grow uncontrollably and get increasingly more aggressive. She thought her team had destroyed all the prototypes, but apparently some escaped.
Fitch listens to Monroe’s far-fetched theory and tells her he’ll keep it in mind. Then Fitch is met by Colonel Antonio Diaz. Corrupt and ruthless, Diaz’s first instinct is to crush any terrorist activity and move on. He is unprepared with Fitch’s suggestion that the attack was the result of mutant piranha. Fitch is ordered to stay at the military compound, but he manages to escape and then hires a local to explore the river and hunt down one of the piranha. Fitch brings back the piranha as proof to Colonel Diaz. Diaz then decides to bomb and shell the river in the hopes of killing all of the piranha.
However, what Diaz actually ends up accomplishing is destroying a dam that had kept the piranha isolated to one part of the river. The piranha escape up the river, growing larger every minute, until they are eating everyone and are approaching the size of a Volkswagon bug and sometimes the size of a double-decker bus. The piranha have also taken to jumping completely out of the water and crashing into buildings, at which point they explode. At this point the movie transcends into silliness and never returns.
Before the end of the movie the piranha have managed to chomp through a destroyer AND a nuclear submarine. A nuclear attack does not kill them, and the U.S. mlitary is considering blowing up the entire state of Florida to solve the problem. Instead, though, Fitch manages to save the day with a plan so unlikely that it really must be seen to believe.
It’s hard to review a movie like Mega Piranha, because it is obviously intended purely as camp. And as camp, it succeeds. The dialogue really is so bad that it starts to become good. And the special effects are so poorly executed that the filmmakers cannot possibly have been serious. So, relax and enjoy the show. Mega Piranha is not going to win any awards, but it’s probably great fun to have playing in the background when you have friends over.
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