Trashterpiece Theater Presents:
PIRANHA SHARKS (2014)
Review by Stacey Longo
Looking for the perfect gift for the person who has everything? Seeking an appropriate present to send to a new political despot whose actions alarm you more and more every day? The answer is finally here: PIRANHA SHARKS (2014), a flick about sharks genetically engineered to be the size of piranhas, and just as aggressive. Because, as the tag line says, “People love sharks.”
These vicious new exotic pets come about as the result of scientists mucking around with DNA and cross-breeding, because as we all know, B-movie genetic engineers never seem to stop and think before they act. The result is disastrous for the lab creating these little chomping mutants, but the efforts of the (late) scientists have not been in vain: a greedy corporate type decides that the wee predators would make the perfect holiday gift for the ultra-rich. Shipping begins immediately, and predictably, the mutating, death-delivering fish escape into New York City’s water supply. End-of-the-world panic ensues.
The mayor, played hilariously by Kevin Sorbo of HERCULES (1995–1999) fame, hires a group of exterminators to deal with the problem. They need to act fast, because the federal government wants to nuke the city before the now-air-breathing, now-flying killer mini-sharks can contaminate the world’s water supply. The exterminators are Jackson (Collin Galyean), the serious, straight man in this trio, Wally (John Wells), a laid back, seemingly perpetually-stoned guy, and Benny (Josh Hammond), a hapless underdog whose girlfriend is seriously not into him at all. They team up with Brody (Frederic Doss), a former researcher who managed to survive the original laboratory sharks-eating-bioengineers fiasco, and off they go to save the world.
Can they find a miracle cure in time? Will Wally finally prove himself useful after leeching off his friends for months? Will Benny find a new, super-hot girlfriend that respects him, yet can’t wait to get in his pants? (Spoiler alert: all three answers are “yes.”)
The highs: I’ve rooted for the underdog ever since my preschool days of watching UNDERDOG (1964–1973, and yes, I watched reruns, thank you very much). To have slightly dorky Benny be the one who gets the hot, smart chick was refreshing and made me happy.
Kevin Sorbo was funny, pantsless, and spot-on in his performance as Mayor Burman. Don’t mock the man for taking this role: he killed it.
The lows: Jose Canseco had a cameo as himself, and it was not pretty. His comedic timing was nonexistent, and his end scene after the credits rolled was painfully unfunny. Feel free to mock him.
Listen, when you hit “play” on a movie titled PIRANHA SHARKS, it’s unreasonable to expect Oscar-worthy greatness. But it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised by a super-low-budget movie that was released direct to video, and on this, PIRANHA SHARKS delivers. Ignore the cheesy special effects and the ridiculousness of consumers snapping up these bloodthirsty critters like sea monkeys (you know, maybe that isn’t so far-fetched). The jokes in the script will make you laugh more than groan, and the actors deliver. They know it’s a horror parody. They’re not trying to channel Laurence Olivier’s HAMLET (1948) here, but rather Sean Penn circa FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982), and it works well. I laughed. I cringed. But overall, it was seventy-three minutes of my life satisfyingly spent.
© Copyright 2017 by Stacey Longo Harris