Piranha 3D: What Was I Thinking?

piranhaIn general, I’m a squeamish person.  I don’t particularly like horror movies, especially ones with lots of gore.  Similarly, I’m not one for much violence.  There are notable exceptions to this rule – I love nearly every Tarantino film, for example, and most of the Rodriguez ones – but for the most part, I’m comfortable with keeping things PG-13.  Or, um, PG. 

So of course it would make perfect sense that I would decide to see Piranha 3D last weekend.

Wait, let me back up here a little bit.  Yes, I knew it was a monster movie.  And yes, I even knew it was supposed to be over-the-top  (how over-the-top is an issue I’ll get to in a second).  But, you see, my mother is a huge fan of monster movies, from the 50s and 60s all the way up through today.  She’ll even watch those SyFy originals.  I’ve seen tons of mutated or prehistoric or alien beasties, so I felt I’d built up a tolerance to that sort of movie.  I even saw a more dark, modern monster movie – Gwoemul – and I quite enjoyed it.

Also, regarding Piranha, most of what I’d heard concerning its extreme nature had to do with nudity – the movie is supposed to be a throwback to the horror movies of the 80s.  There were even hints at male nudity.  Well, that’s fine with me, right?  See a funny horror movie with lots of naked people and buckets of fake blood.  And in threee-deee!  Sounds doable.  Off I went.

It didn’t start out bad at all.  One of the draws of the film is its cast (Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O’Connell, Elisabeth Shue and more), and there are big names in the very first scene.  It’s a mostly funnier-than-average film.  The piranhas – and their victims – are a little bit gross, but I didn’t go to the theater expecting Gremlins, so for probably the first hour or more, things went smoothly.

Until they didn’t.  I’m not going to spoil the movie for those that do want to see it, but let’s just say that there’s a natural progression from a few victims to a lot of victims… and then a lot more, in increasingly graphic scenes.  I know I saw at least three scenes that were probably past my oh god what have I done meter before I realized, oh hey, this scene isn’t going to stop any time soon, why are my eyes open? Literally, I closed my eyes in the movie theater.  I can’t remember the last time that happened.  Unfortunately, a reaction from the crowd caused me to open them just in time to see… well, it was gross.

So, do I recommend the film, you ask?  Well, that’s really a tough one.  Yes, there were about five scenes that I wish I could scrub from my brain, honestly, but everyone is so person-specific in this regard – someone pointed out to me that Planet Terror is probably nearly as gross, and I love Planet Terror (Oh hey, I remember the last time I closed my eyes in a theater!  It’s during that crash in Death Proof).

The 3D aspect of it was actually really neat.  This was a film that was converted later – filming it in 3D was too difficult with the cameras and the water.  Still, I was honestly impressed by the whole experience of seeing it – it was crisp and sharp and looked good.  This is the first modern film in 3D that I’ve seen, but apparently it’s the first converted film that is getting a good reception.  Maybe the critics, like me, were glad that they could shut their eyes behind their 3D glasses without anyone knowing.

Let me say that if you think you can handle it, it’s actually probably worth a shot.  The rest of the movie is pretty funny and fun, and it’s probably destined to become a cult classic.  I don’t know that it’s necessarily worth the high reviews on Rotten Tomatoes right now (82%, another reason I decided to see it), but it’s not the worst movie I’ve seen this summer, believe it or not.  But don’t kid yourself here: it’s a horror film.  There are tons and tons of bodies in pretty horrible condition.

I saw the film on opening night, a 9pm showing.  When I got home, you can bet I wasn’t about to go to sleep.  I balanced it out with this totally NSFW new song and some Glee – so if you’re feeling overwhelmed after a viewing, there’s my cocktail recommendation.

Have any of you seen Piranha 3D?  Are you planning on it?  And where do you draw the line in gore and horror?

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