Anyone who followed the careers of John Gulager, Marcus Dunstan, and Patrick Melton from Project Greenlight Season 3 to Feast 3 knew that they were the wrong choice for Piranha 3DD. That’s why I was so flabbergasted when Dimension announced that they would be the creative team behind the Piranha remake’s sequel. Alexandre Aja was able to do with Piranha 3D what all three Feast films attempted to and failed at. He managed to mix horror and comedy without relying on too many bad one-liners and wink at the camera moments. Not a simple feat! Many horror filmmakers have tried unsuccessfully at making the perfect horror/comedy cocktail. Just ask Adam Green or Tim Sullivan.
It was even more odd that Dimension decided to release a Piranha 3D sequel to theaters (Although, I should point out that it opened in far fewer theaters than its predecessor). While Piranha 3D was met with good reviews from both critics and fans, it pretty much failed at the domestic box office (Production budget: $24 million, versus a total domestic gross of $25 million). Maybe Dimension was hoping for a repeat of the movie’s foreign box office success, where it earned an estimated $58.1 million. Whatever their reasons were, the film was doomed from the start.
Horror fans, such as myself, avoided it like the plague after seeing the horrible trailer featuring Gulager and company’s signature unfunny, over-the-top humor. The film was hated by the few who did see it, and Dimension’s bungling of the sequel will always be remembered as one of the worst disasters in horror film history. Okay, probably not, but they really dropped the ball on what could have been a great and lucrative direct-to-DVD franchise. But don’t just take my word for it…
“Piranha 3D has received generally positive reviews, having received a 72% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 113 reviews, with a “certified fresh” score of 6.2 out of 10. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received a mixed average score of 53%, based on 20 reviews.”
“Piranha 3DD has received negative reviews and currently holds a 13% approval rating and average rating of 3.2/10 on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 43 reviews. The consensus states: ‘It strains to up the gore and self-awareness of its predecessor, and — despite some game celebrity cameos — the result is a dispiriting echo of 2010’s horror-comedy.’ It has a 24/100 rating on Metacritic, which is ‘generally unfavorable’ on their rating system.”
Want more proof? Lake Placid. The killer crocodile movie that won’t go away. Like Piranha 3D, the original Lake Placid wasn’t a huge hit at the domestic box office, but it has spawned three sequels. I’m pretty sure the Syfy Channel and 20th Century Fox are not in the business of pissing money away because they like giant crocodiles. So the Lake Placid film franchise must be doing something right.
While I would only recommend Lake Placid 2 and 3 to people who smoke too much weed (or Dukes of Hazzard fans), Lake Placid: The Final Chapter is actually a quality low budget film. It’s the kind of bad flick that pleasantly surprises you when you rent it from a Red Box as a last resort. The unrated DVD version features plenty of giant crocodiles, lots of gore, and one set of itty bitty tittes. Elisabeth Röhm is great as the new sheriff, Yancy Butler proves she is new Mary Woronov of made for Syfy movies, and Robert Englund surprisingly doesn’t phone it in for a paycheck. Even better, Lake Placid 4 doesn’t suffer from the worst Syfy movie syndromes: Slow pacing, bad acting, too much filler, and not enough computer animated monsters. The story also follows a standard horror movie plot where a busload of teens get stranded by a lake full of giant killer crocodiles. Perfect!
Simply put, Lake Placid: The Final Chapter is what the sequel to Piranha 3D should have been, and I actually hope this isn’t truly the last entry into the series. I would gladly watch a fifth film starring Röhm and Butler again, especially if it’s directed by Don Michael Paul.