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Film / Piranha 3D

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Piranha 3D is a remake (In Name Only, actually) of the 1978 original, directed by Alexandre Aja.

Set at Lake Victoria (a fictional version of Lake Havasu, Arizona), a minor earthquake opens up a chasm that connects the lake to a larger subterranean one. The local sheriff (Elisabeth Shue) escorts a trio of scientists (Adam Scott, Dina Meyer, and Ricardo Chavira) to explore the underwater cave, while her chief deputy (Ving Rhames) is left to oversee the chaos of Spring Break. However, thousands of prehistoric piranha that have outlived their species' extinction by millions of years are now able to escape to the surface, eating two of the scientists, and then making their way towards the town's very active beach.

Also filling out the adult cast are Jerry O'Connell (a Girls Gone Wild-esque producer/director), Christopher Lloyd (a marine biologist pet shop owner), and Richard Dreyfuss (a local fisherman who is the first to get eaten). As incredible as it may seem, the film actually got mostly positive reviews, for being realistically scary, but also indulged in its B-Movie roots. Two years later, a sequel was released, Piranha 3DD.


This film provides examples of:

  • Almighty Janitor: Mr. Goodman is just a pet shop owner but is the authority on the history of the piranha.
  • Action Mom: Julie Forester, the Lake Victoria sheriff. She shows no hesitation to go help her kids when they're in danger.
  • Agony of the Feet: Among the injured being brought to shore is a sheriff's deputy hobbling to shore with the help of another deputy who's telling him to look at him and not at his left leg which has been eaten to the bone from the knee down.
  • Artistic License – Marine Biology: The Piranha survived two million years in an enclosed cavern through cannibalism. Every predator gets about 10% of the energy his prey took in. So, every generation of piranha should have lost 10/11 of their population. Even assuming they magically preserved 90% of the energy, they wouldn't have made it that long without producers in their food chain! And just to add insult to injury at the end of the movie we find out they've been fighting the babies, which are apparently as big as their full-grown prehistoric ancestors. So, apparently, this process made them bigger.
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  • Artistic License – Physics: Mr. Goodman's explanation for how the piranhas could have lived in isolation under the lake for millions of years with no other food: cannibalism. The piranhas would use much more energy than they could consume from eating their own.
  • Asshole Victim: Among the victims of the piranhas include Todd, a Jerkass bully to Jake who also kills several people during the piranha attack by driving his speedboat through a crowd before falling off his boat and getting killed himself. Another victim is Derrick, who's a scummy porno filmmaker that exploits his female actresses.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The main characters are alive but plenty of others aren't, and the piranha are still out there.
  • Badass Bookworm: Novak, a seismologist, assists in killing piranhas during the spring break massacre. His method? A drive-by shooting with a sawed-off shotgun on a jetski.
  • Big "NO!": Paula screams "NO!!!" twice while attempting to swim away from the piranhas after they had finished munching on Sam. By the time Novak reaches her, it's too late.
  • Black Comedy: The deaths are sometimes over-the-top hilarious, but still remain horrifying. The death of Novak at the end definitely fits this.
  • Bleached Underpants: Actual porn star Riley Steele plays a side character, who is also a porn star.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Ramps this up to ridiculous levels, and it's obviously intentional.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Some of the deaths, such as the Diagonal Cut scene and the girl who, while being carried to shore by two guys, turns out to be more injured than they thought, as the one holding her legs accidentally rips the bottom half of her torso off.
  • Cassandra Truth: The police warn the partygoers to get out of the water, but nobody listens until the blood starts spilling.
  • Celebrity Survivor: Porn stars and a sleazy Joe Francis clone are among the red shirts.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Lots and lots of this, including non-piranha caused deaths: a girl gets sliced in half by a high tension wire and watches her bikini top fall off before the rest of her upper torso follows suit. Another girl's hair gets tangled in the propellers of a speedboat, ripping off her scalp and face. The host of a Wet T-shirt contest is decapitated. In more piranha-related news, a piranha eats a woman from the inside out, emerging from her mouth. Two piranhas fight over the severed penis of a pornographer...and didn't like it in the end.
  • Dead Star Walking: Richard Dreyfuss' character is killed in the opening scene.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Although the ending wasn't really sunshine and rainbows, it was revealed that the piranhas throughout the movie were actually babies, and a man-sized adult piranha eats Novak.
  • Double Standard: The porn actresses are treated as fair game for Death by Sex, but people like Jake who watched them, survive.
  • Fanservice: First half of the film is filled with lots, particularly the underwater nude ballet between Kelly Brook and Riley Steele (who, by the way, is an actual porn star).
  • Fan Disservice: Then cue the piranha attacks. Many very beautiful people (in bathing suits) are killed in ways that combine sex and gory violence. For example, the girl who gets sliced in half by a high-tension wire as mentioned earlier: first the bikini top falls off, exposing her breasts... then the rest of her upper torso follows suit. Also Jerry O'Connell's severed penis, which is even more horrific if you saw it in theaters in 3D.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The plot revolves around a Wild Wild Girls production/event, an obvious parody of Girls Gone Wild.
  • Gag Boobs: After Crystal has been eaten alive by the piranhas, her skeleton is seen slowly drifting to the bottom of the lake... while her breast implants are seen slowly drifting up to the surface.
  • Groin Attack: Jerry O'Connell gets his penis bitten off by the piranha.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Happens to quite a few bikini babes. Two notable examples:
    • Two girls get sliced by a flying steel cable and...
    • A few scenes later, one seemingly uninjured girl being hauled ashore by a couple of cops literally falls apart in their arms.
  • Hazardous Water: Though even slightly above isn't better, as the piranha can jump a mere few inches and latch on to anything dangling. Danni dies this way when the piranha grab onto her hair as she rappels over the water, and her trying to remove them and keep going just leads to them getting her arms too.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Deputy Fallon grabs an engine and propeller and holds it in the water to chop of swarms of piranha in an effort to allow more people to get to shore. The fish quickly get to his legs since he has to stand in the water to do this, but he keeps going until he's fully devoured. Subverted since the sequel reveals he survived, albeit without his legs.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The piranhas choose their main attack on Spring Break.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: A porn actress rather than a hooker, but Kelly Brook's character Danni is otherwise this to a tee. She quickly becomes a sort of surrogate Cool Big Sis to the teenage hero, tries to get him to kiss the girl he has a crush on and is the only character to show grief when the Jerkass porn producer dies. Not that she was immune from becoming fish food.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Than the previous versions, by far - lots of nudity, including the aforementioned nude ballet.
  • Improvised Weapon: Ving Rhames' character runs out of ammo, so he takes the motor off of a boat and uses it to chop piranhas up like a blender.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Curiously played straight, unlike the original.
  • Karmic Death: Several Asshole Victims get the short-end of the stick, but special mention goes to the guy who steals a speedboat and runs over several flailing people trapped in the water in his desperate bid to get to shore. This only results in him eventually getting a girl's hair caught in the propeller, and he ends up scalping her in his attempt to restart it. By that point, enough people have piled on to overturn it, and he goes falling into the drink with the rest of them.
  • Kill the Cutie: Danni is a more sexualized example of The Cutie than most, but she still applies, as she becomes a piranha victim despite her sweet personality.
  • Large Ham: Christopher Lloyd, of course. Jerry O'Connell also gets really into his role, to hilarious effect.
  • Made of Plasticine: Some of the results of the attacks look like this, particularly the girl who's accidentally pulled in half while being carried to shore.
  • Mood Whiplash: Goes from goofy 'teens on a porn set' scene, to standard horror movie stuff that could still pass for goofy/comedic, to a several-minute scene of unusually realistic gore.
    • Especially the aftermath of the lake massacre where the survivors are being pulled out of the river.
    • At one point in the aftermath, you see two girls on a boat holding each other and sobbing, while one of the boys on the boat passes a water bottle to another boat to help care for survivors. What used to be a bunch of douchebag rebellious teens getting massacred quickly turns into a bunch of terrified and traumatized kids trying to pick up the pieces of the bloody aftermath, a result of their foolishness. It's a very sobering switch.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Most of the girls, but notably Danni played by Kelly Brook and Crystal played by Riley Steele (an actual porn actress) thanks to the underwater ballet scene.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jake's decision to help out with filming the porn video leads to both Kelly and his younger siblings trapped on a boat surrounded by piranhas. He makes up for it by rescuing Kelly and blowing up the boat along with hundreds of piranhas.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jerry O'Connell said that his character was explicitly based on Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis, and insisted on giving him the goriest death in the movie (in an interview O'Connell even stated he had a very low opinion of Francis).
  • No Ending: The film ends on the Forester family, Kelly, and Novak having wiped out a large chunk of the piranhas, but Julie points out that it wasn't all of them. Then, after Dr. Goodman informs them that they were just babies, Novak then gets attacked by a larger piranha, about the size of a bass. Cue credits, without showing what happened to the rest of the school/pack or whether the adults got to everyone on the boat. Without anything actually being resolved, the film just stops cold.
  • Nude Nature Dance: The underwater ballet scene.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Sam, one of the marine divers, finds himself surrounded by swarm of piranhas ready to have him for lunch.
    • When Sheriff Forester finds out that Jake and his little brother and sister are on a sinking boat under piranha-infested water. See Vertigo Effect below.
    • When the main cast find out that The piranha they've been fighting are babies.
  • Piranha Problem: It's the page image!
  • Police Are Useless: Not here. They find out the piranha threat, try to alert people and do an impressive job getting everyone they can out of the water when the piranha attack while also trying to fight off the piranhas from attacking the spring breakers.
  • Red Is Heroic: Danni wears red swimsuits throughout the movie and is quick to agree to the plan to rescue Jake's siblings from danger.
  • Sex Signals Death: Downplayed. Scantily clad spring-breakers, a pornographer, and wet t-shirt contest host (played by Eli Roth) are on the receiving end of the piranhas' wrath.
  • Shout-Out: The first victim is called Matt and he sings "Show Me The Way To Go Home" while fishing out on the lake. He's also played by Richard Dreyfuss.
  • Smug Snake: Not really a villain, but audiences just love to hate Derrick Jones' manic douchiness.
  • Stealth Pun: When Jerry O'Connell's severed penis is sinking to the bottom of the lake, two piranhas start fighting over eating it. In other words, a cockfight.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Danni and Crystal during the ballet scene, assuming they didn't come up for air.
  • Take That!: As shown above in No Celebrities Were Harmed, Derrick is clearly based off of Joe Francis and is portrayed as a sleazy scumbag producer who then gets violently killed near the end.
  • Teens Are Monsters: One of the teens grabs a boat just for himself and tries to go for shore, running over several people in the process and killing a few of them. Karma gets him when the hair one of the girls he kills jams his propeller and slows him down and the desperate people in the water capsize him.
  • Tempting Fate: At the end when the main characters find out that the piranha they've been seeing throughout the movie are the babies, Novak is the first to ask where are the parents and gets his answer immediately.
  • Third Is 3D: The marketing title Piranha 3D is somewhat confusing, making it look like the film might be a second sequel rather than another reworking.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Almost everybody but especially the spring breakers, who refuse to get out of the water when the cops and the sheriff herself tells them that it's an emergency. Words like that usually scream shark or alligator/crocodile if you're in or near deep water.
    • Paula, one of the marine divers. If your diving partner has swum into a dark cavern, says that something bit him (and not even taking him seriously), his rope goes slack, and all attempts at further vocal contact are met with horrific screaming, it's probably in your best interest NOT to go swimming in after him.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: An annoying example. That scene in the trailers where a giant piranha leaps out of the water, and gobbles a character off the boat? That's the ending.
  • Uncertain Doom: A wire from the snapped soundstage whacks two cheerleaders in one of the nearby boats trying to save swimmers. While one of them is clearly sliced in half the other might have survived, given how there was a deep cut bible across her thigh, but it might not have been deep enough to cut all the way through (unlike her friend) as she doesn't come apart on-screen and might have been able to survive even if she had.
  • Underwater Kiss: It's an underwater nude ballet, as mentioned several times above.
  • Vertigo Effect: After saving mulitple people from piranhas, Julie gets word from her son that he as well as his younger siblings are trapped on a boat that is sinking right below piranha-infested waters. Her fear is puncuated with a camera zoom. This shot is one of the many references to Jaws, albiet a more subtle one.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In slow-motion, right at the camera. And it's Squick-inducing enough in 2D...
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: Danni and Crystal for most if not all of their screen time.
  • Wham Line: Turns out that the piranha we've been seeing throughout the movie are only the babies.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Wild Wild Girls cameraman Andrew vanishes without trace three quarters of the way through the movie. It can be safely assumed he was eaten by piranha but it's weird we never see it considering all the other victims on the same boat get very graphic and obvious deaths.
    • Andrew's fate is actually discovered in the sequel. He's revealed to be alive and currently undergoing therapy along with Deputy Fallon. (Fallon is afraid of the ocean, Andrew is afraid of fish.)
    • Little thought is given to the spring break massacre after Julie and Novak leave the scene to rescue her kids. Though by the time they've left, the surviving spring breakers seem to be safely out of the water.