Last summer audiences were delighted, entertained, and all-around thrilled to see a pack of prehistoric piranhas f*cking sh*t up during spring break in the ultra-fun, ultra-violent gore-fest PIRANHA. Oh, and it was all in 3D, no less (as a fun gimmick, the way 3D should be used). It made a little noise at the box office, but did gangbusters on video, and proved to studios everywhere that killer fish movies that are big on blood and boobs can make serious bank. Which is likely what prompted the green light of SHARK NIGHT 3D, or the film formerly known as UNTITLED SHARK THRILLER (which is possibly the better title of the two). And when the trailer came out a few weeks back, it had the PIRANHA 3D vibe going for it all the wayóhot chicks, the tease of serious boobage, teen drinking and partying, and of course, mass carnage when it comes to shark feasts. But the biggest surprise of it all? It came to light that SHARK NIGHT 3D is to be rated PG-13. WTF???
Besides my belief that most solid horror films that feature a killer monster on the loose are better when rated R, itís the fact that the trailer alluded to the film itself being a hard R, to the point where much of it felt like an extended version of PIRANHA, a film celebrated for naked underwater ballets and the most blood ever used on a movie set. But now that itís officially rated PG-13, I feel like Iíve been gut-kicked, as it has to be one of the biggest slaps in the face in the history of cop-out PG-13 horror films. And while Iím disappointed as all get-out and certain level of anger rises every time I think of what a tease and what a let-down this film is going to be, itís hard to pinpoint exactly who I should be mad at here. Director David R. Ellis? The studio? The MPAA? Or myself for having R rated expectations from the get-go?
Iím a huge fan of David R. Ellis movies, mostly because he knows what people want, he knows how to entertain the audience, and he (generally) doesnít hold back the gore or boob factor from his films. With an exemplary directorial resume that includes FINAL DESTINATION 2, SNAKES ON A PLANE, CELL, and THE FINAL DESTINATION, the guy has proven over and over again that he has what it takes to deliver some epic entertaining trash. His horror films are all exploitative and gore-based, and he even went out on a limb and made SNAKES ON A PLANE R rated based on internet outcry that it would be PG-13. At this point, when I hear about or see a David R. Ellis movie, I expect that shit to be rated R for not only gore but for nudity as well, both equal staples in my book of entertaining qualities found in movies. A shark movie about a bunch of party-loving teens? This has Ellisí R rated flare written all over it, and yetÖ itís PG-13? Whaaaaaaaat the fuuuuuuck???
But maybe Ellis made an R rated SHARK NIGHT movie and the studio, who saw the box office numbers of PIRANHA drop out of existence, made the call to cut it down to PG-13? After all, theyíre throwing a lot of cash at the film to make it 3D and they probably want their investment to prove successful. Thereís an odd business logic to that, but it doesnít mean itís not a bunch of f*cking horseshit. This is where money speaks louder than creativity, where studios (and not filmmakers) are making decisions that will ultimately affect the outcome of the audienceís experience at the movies. And when the audience has to shell out $15 to check out a 3D film in theaters, that shit better be worth it! They want the kids out there to be able to see that, but what about the rest of us hard-working adults who have to pay to see this f*cking thing? I donít want a watered down version of something awesome just because you want teenagers to see this movie (teens who would likely see it anyway, PG-13 rating or not).
Now the MPAA rated SHARK NIGHT PG-13 for violence and terror, disturbing images, sexual references, partial nudity, language and thematic material. Maybe the problem lies in the flexibility of the rating? That description right there screams R rating if not for the ďpartialĒ nudity. In fact, that right there screams harder R than many actual R rated movies! So whatís the f*cking point of having a rating system when shit like this is deemed as tame as a PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie, but not as hard as a FINAL DESTINATION movie? So could it be just as hardcore as the R rated SHARK movie weíd like to see? Probably notómore like an ďedited for TVĒ version of an R rated film than anything else, which leads me to my final hated reason that SHARK NIGHT is PG-13: myself.
Is it the stigma I have with PG-13 that angers me so much? Is it the idea that a movie about a killer shark that doesnít show every blood-drenched kill sequence or boob-bouncing bikini moment that doesnít make sense to me without an R rating? Yes, of course. Is it because I canít understand why David R. Ellis would make anything less than an R rated shark movie? F*ckiní A. Or is it that after seeing PIRANHA 3D, my expectations for massive bloodshed and nude underwater ballets are so high that if SHARK NIGHT 3D is anything less, Iíll be disappointed? You bet your flippiní ass. Is it irrational? Maybe. But for every PG monster movie like JAWS that worked, there are 14 R rated monster movies that also workedóand itís that envelope being pushed to the max that I crave so much.
Maybe itís the booze talkiní, but having SHARK NIGHT 3D rated PG-13 is a slap to face for horror fans everywhere, of fans of shit like PIRANHA 3D, and for fans of 3D who feel that it works its gimmicky best in B-movie schlock like this. This isnít the SyFy channel, this isnít an Asylum movie, this is a big budgeted shark movie in the third dimension and it should be given the no-holds-barred un-censored respect it so rightfully deserves. And for f*ckís sake, donít treat us like suckers and sell us an R rated shark movie in the trailers only to deliver some weak sauce PG-13 puss-fest. I guess the light at the end of the tunnel is that by the time it hits Blu-ray, SHARK NIGHT will have dropped the 3D but will gain its UnRated status and all will be right and just with the world again.