When it comes time for me to pick a shark movie to review, I look for the potential “so bad it’s good” ones. That has come with mixed results. But when I see a movie title with “Piranha” and “Sharks”, I have absolutely no control over my choosy little brain. It must be watched.
The movie opens in a bioengineering lab that has only a folding table, a laptop and a microscope. Wow, technology. We see the itsy bitsy little monsters in the scope’s lens. They kind of look like guppies with toothpicks for teeth, but super cute. The scientist has a mishap and gets a wee bite which causes him to be apparently eaten alive from the inside. Because they are microscopic (for now) they can do that.
The biotech firm, Blackthorn Industries, is subsequently going bankrupt. The evil CEO of the firm (we know she’s bad because she has a British accent) sells the patent for these tiny terrors to two unscrupulous idiots who sell them as Christmas toys like Sea Monkeys on steroids. They make a fortune and piranha sharks are the big hit of the Christmas season.
The film makes several cuts to infomercials for the sharks which are just as ridiculous as you might expect. You get a tank and some food for $19.95! A $49.95 value! As the show goes on, fun is poked at the news and social media as well. I began to think this movie might be making some sweeping statement on the gullibility of the American consumer. But here I was watching a movie called Piranha Sharks based just on the name so who am I to say?
Our main characters are a threesome of Manhattan roommates, two of which are exterminators. The movie spends a lot of time on getting you to like these guys. It becomes very clear that this is a character-driven comedy, and not exactly a movie about killer mini sharks. There isn’t very much toothy action at all until very near the end of the film. Also, you don’t get to see much carnage. A good 80% of the time is dialogue, cheesy jokes, and attempting to reconcile with ex-girlfriends. I’m not saying it isn’t enjoyable, just not what I wanted from a movie called Piranha Sharks.
What we do know about these critters is that they are part of Project Dorsal, grow to approximately 1-15mm, and have an erratic reproductive cycle. They make little chirping sounds too. Why? Dunno. As they show up more and more in New Yorkers’ living room fish tanks, concern is raised about the possibility that some moron could flush them down the toilet, contaminating the water supply. So inevitably some moron flushes them down the toilet, contaminating the water supply.
One of the roommates gets a tank full o’sharks and our goofy guys discover that something is wrong with them. Some are getting bigger and can even breath air now. Meanwhile a disgruntled ex-bioengineer kidnaps the British lady and eventually all the gang comes together as one motley crew, hell bent on saving Manhattan. The Mayor, played by Kevin Sorbo, does a whole lot of nada about the situation, and the President orders a nuclear strike on NYC. That’s their answer for everything. So as time ticks away toward an impending catastrophe, our heroes must kill the fishies quick before they get nuked.
Once the piranha sharks get into the water supply, the movie reminded me a bit of Ghost Shark. They can appear in any water, big or small! This is when it starts to get fun. As I said before, however, it takes a while to get there and you don’t really see much. If you want to explore how awesome that concept can be, watch Ghost Shark instead. No seriously, watch Ghost Shark. Now. I’ll wait.
Our heroes discover the one thing that can kill the miniature menaces, Jägermeister. That’s right, you heard me. They need to get it into the main Manhattan water supply for the air strike turns them into shadows. Oh and the piranha sharks can fly now!
Listen, this movie is a lot of fun. It’s charming and funny. However, it tries a little too hard to be charming and funny. I wanted more gore, more sharks, more of what the fucking title implies. I did find myself liking the characters and that is unusual for this sub-genre. So the moral of the story is if you want to watch a stupid/funny movie, this one will deliver enough to get by. If you want to watch a sharksploitation film about piranha sharks, not so much.
Watch Ghost Shark. Dammit.
See ya next time! (I will be on hiatus next week while I am at Killercon!)
Director: Leigh Scott
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
American Cult Anthology$2.99 – $12.95