Review: Piranha Blu-ray

Piranha Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Alexandre Aja | CAST: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames, Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szhor, Kelly Brook
RELEASE DATE: 1/18/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray $34.95, Blu-ray 3D $39.95, DVD $28.95
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, deleted storyboard sequences, more
SPECS: R | 89 min. | Horror comedy | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Piranha is an inspiringly gory, frequently naked, wholly enjoyable film that is so proudly unapologetic about what it is, that it’s hard not to at least get a kick out of the enthusiasm, even if “exploitation movies” (always a loaded term, but everyone can be suspectible) aren’t your thing.

Like any great drive-in movies, the setup and story are sparingly high-concept: It’s spring break at Lake Victoria, lots of partying college students are living it up in the water, and a Girls Gone Wild-like TV show is being filmed on location. So there’s flesh. Lots and lots of flesh, sporting bathing suits or nothing at all and looking undeniably appetizing, both to oglers of gyrating young people (the viewers) and a ravenous horde of prehistoric piranhas (the movie) who are released from an underwater fissure before the opening credits.

Piranha’s central setpiece — the attack of the guppies-gone-wrong on hundred of beautiful spring breakers — kicks off at the 55-mintue mark. And we’ve gotta tell you that it’s one of the most energetic, creative and just plan insane monster massacre sequences we’ve every seen. Building upon the boobs-and-blood quickies from the 1970s up through the straight-to-tape era, the only difference in Piranha is that’s there’s more blood, more boobs and way more of a budget to make it worth watching. And for those looking for high art, there’s a lesbian-flavored water ballet scene scored to Leo Delibes’ “Lakme” that’s worthy of Andy Sidaris’s Lethal Ladies flicks of the 1990s.

Piranha movie scene with Jerry O'ConnellOh, there are some stars and story lines, as well. Leading the way are a shy guy (Steven R. McQueen, TV’s The Vampire Diaries), his sheriff mother (Elisabeth Shue, Back to the Future Trilogy), a sweet co-ed (Jessica Szohr, TV’s Gossip Girl), a video sleazebag a la Joe Francis (Jerry O’Connell, TV’s The Defenders) and a drool-worthy model with a heart of gold (Kelly Brook, Survival Island). There’re even a few real porn stars thrown in for good measure, including Ashlynn Brooke, Gianna Michaels and Riley Steele, in a featured role. Other quick appearances are made by Christopher Lloyd (Jack and the Beanstalk) as a wacky scientist (for a change) and Richard Dreyfuss (TV’s Weeds) in a pre-credit homage to his Matt Hooper role in Jaws.

The Blu-ray edition of Piranha delivers in the sound and vision department. The blood runs red — deep, rich red — and the audio quality is textured and immersive. The attack sequence, in particular, stands out with the sounds of piranhas munching, students screaming, motorboats gunning and water furiously splashing.

The bonus features package is generous, highlighted by 10 featurettes that find the filmmakers having a ball on-set as they manage the mayhem. Notable: Director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) sat in on the casting sessions for the film’s hundreds of extras, noting which ones would make the sexiest lakeside dancers and which would be finest victims.

We haven’t seen the Blu-ray 3D edition of the movie, so we can’t comment on it, though we noted that lots of piranhas, boobs and dismembered body parts are flung right at the camera, which should look great in 3D. That said, the regular Blu-ray version really worked for us!


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.