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Piranha 3D is a remake (In Name Only, really) of the original Joe Dante B-movie, directed by Alexandre Aja.

Set at Lake Victoria, 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), 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 knowing when to indulge in its B-Movie roots. Two years later, a sequel was released, Piranha 3DD.

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This film provides examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: The main characters are alive but plenty of others aren't, and the piranha are still out there.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Corpsing: When Derrick's half-eaten body is brought onto the boat, Laura's actress can be seen grinning instead of looking horrified.
  • 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.
  • Death by Sex: Promiscuous spring-breakers, a pornographer, and wet t-shirt contest host (played by Eli Roth) are on the receiving end of the piranhas' teeth.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Although the ending wasn't really candy and rainbows, it was revealed that the piranhas throughout the movie were actually babies, and a man-sized adult piranha eats one of the main characters.
  • Double Standard: the porn actresses are treated as fair game for Death by Sex, but people like Jake who watched them are more likely to survive.
  • Famous Last Words: Derrick saying to Jake "Wet t-shirt. Wet t-shirt." for no apparent reason.
  • 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.
  • 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 it isn't better, as the piranha can jump a few inches and latch on to anything danging. Danni dies this day, as the piranha grab 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: One of the sheriff's deputies 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.
  • 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 any of this stops her becoming fish food of course.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 Rilley Steele 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: Averted. 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).
  • Nude Nature Dance: The underwater ballet scene.
  • Oh, Crap!: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: An annoying example. That scene in the trailers where a giant piranha leaps out of the water, and snatches 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 lied 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 slice 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.
  • 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?: 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 his fate 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 water, Andrew is afraid of fish.)
    • Very little thought is given to the spring break massacre after the main characters leave the scene to rescue the sheriff's children.


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