Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Piñata: Survival Island

Also known as Demon Island. Also known as simply Piñata. Also known as just Survival Island. This movie may be in the Witness Protection Program.

A lot has been said about how horror movies tend to overuse the traditional bad guys. Vampires, zombies, werewolves, mummies, masked slashers, etc. have been featured in numerous films each. Why, some ask, can’t movie makers come up with something we haven’t seen hundreds of times? If you are one of those people, I give you Piñata: Survival Island, which is one of the few horror movies to use a killer piñata.

Hundreds of years ago, an Indian village in Mexico was plagued by misfortune. There was rampant disease, and due to crop failure, everyone was starving. This was true even though the shirtless Indians were all noticeably obese. The village’s master piñata maker (a profession which has gone the way of the buggy-whip manufacturer) makes a special piñata, in which he places the evil from everyone in the village. Okay. Once the evil is sealed in the piñata, everything turns to roses, and the villagers break the Piñata of Good Will, which is filled with food so the fat Indians can finally eat. Not wanting to keep the bad piñata around for obvious reasons, they push it out into a river, where it floats away to become someone else’s problem. The Indians then all die from obesity-related diseases (not shown).

Hundreds of years later, a group of 30-year old actors and actresses pretending to be are merrily motor-boating to a remote island. Included among the cast are Kyle (Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Tina (Jaime Pressley, who plays someone on My Name is Earl; probably not Earl). The aging kids are members of fraternities and sororities at some fictitious college, and they are arriving at the island for a scavenger hunt. All of them are utterly stupid and completely unlikeable. The scavenger hunt consists of looking for 2500 pairs of underwear scattered on the island, whoever finds the most wins. This seems like a dumbed-down version of a scavenger hunt, but I think the planners knew who the contestants would be. As added incentive, the judges tell them there are piñatas filled with booze around the island also. Ruh-roh. I’m getting a sense of foreboding. The contestants are to run around the island handcuffed together boy-girl, which should give them some nice wriste scars.

One of the couples comes upon – surprise! – the piñata of evil from the prologue. It apparently drifted out to sea and ended up on the island. Thinking there must be booze inside, the dimwits pound it with a rock until it cracks. The cracks close instantly, but too late. The piñata is awake, and as they are wont to be, pissed. You’d think the piñata would be grateful to the morons who released him (her? It? How do you sex a piñata?) but nosirree. A murderous rampage ensues.

As the number of scavengers is rapidly depleted, we are treated to great inconsistency in piñata size. Sometimes it is larger than a man, sometimes smaller. Occasionally, its legs disappear completely, it grows a tail and can fly. Apparently, the producers of this gem meant for the piñata to be played by a guy in a piñata suit, but because it looked too lame (even worse than the rest of the movie), they shot some scenes of a CGI piñata and inserted them. The CGI is Commodore Amiga quality, so I can’t see how it helps, but there you are.

Eventually, the survivors, who are just who you think they would be, trap the piñata and incinerate it, using gasoline that doesn’t burn in a manner consistent with the known Universe. This doesn’t work. However, after it escapes the large conflagration, Kyle sticks a small fire on the back of its neck and it blows up real good.

The movie, as you might guess, is beyond ludicrous. The scene of the piñata slowly lowering itself on a vine behind the contestants is laugh out loud funny. I don’t know why the people behind the movie didn’t abandon the attempt to make a straight horror movie and turn it into an intentional comedy instead.

Oh well, it was the best Killer Piñata movie I’ve ever seen.


John Hornor Jacobs said...

I thought, at first, this was your attempt at an April Fools' joke. Reviewing a movie that couldn't possibly exist.

Then I found a trailer. Holy smokes, some idiot got paid for this.

KentAllard said...

That's why I saved it for today.