What kind of world do we live in, where cheesetastic monster movie Piranha 3-D can go up against a vapid vampire spoof and lose? What does it mean that vampire slapstick made sashimi of the year's most promising monster-fish movie?
So Piranha 3-D made about $10 million at the box office, compared with $12 million for Vampires Suck. Add in the fact that Vampires Suck opened on Wednesday, two days early, and the five-day take for Vampires Suck rises to $18.6 million. (Plus Vampires Suck had a slightly smaller budget, so it's almost made back its budget already.) According to Box Office Mojo, the audience for Piranha 3-D was mostly over 25 and male, whereas the Vampires Suck audience was overwhelmingly under 21, and 55 percent female.
Let's be clear: Neither of these films is exactly Oscar-bait. But Piranha 3-D is a nice sturdy B-movie about monsters biting people in their Spring Break bits, whereas Vampires Suck is the umpteenth weak spoof from the Disaster Movie people. They're both vulgar and silly, except that Vampires Suck's silliness takes the form of weak fart jokes and ridiculous sight gags, whereas Piranha 3-D gives us Elizabeth Shue and hilarious mutilations.
Plus, there's also the sad fact that Scott Pilgrim had a huge second-weekend drop, pulling in only about $5 million. Which is even sadder than the other stuff, in a way.
Actually, I sort of get why Vampires Suck did so well — it's like the perfect storm of people who are genuine fans of Twilight and its ilk, wanting to celebrate their love, plus people who hate Twilight and want to see it lampooned, even if it's done really, really badly. Having it both ways is always the perfect formula for successful movie-making, as James Cameron proved with his hardware-celebrating, technology-bemoaning Avatar.
But also, maybe it has to do with sex — as we pointed out in our review the other day, Piranha 3-D is weirdly anti-sex, with anybody who behaves lasciviously receiving a razor-sharp punishment, courtesy of a weirdly Puritanical prehistoric fish. Meanwhile, the Twilight books and movies, which Vampires Suck is poking fun at, have a similarly anti-sex message — Bella can't have sex with Edward until they're married, or the resulting vampire fetus will tear her apart with its pointy teeth. So watching a film that lampoons Twilight, even completely inanely, is a way of striking a blow for premarital sex, and the same goes for skipping Piranha 3-D. When you look at it that way, it's not quite so bad.
Oh, also Vampires Suck was PG-13, while Piranha was rated R. I suppose that could have had something to do with it as well, especially among younger audiences. Also, Box Office Mojo offers us this explanation:
Comedic horror generally doesn't grab much of an audience theatrically, and Piranha 3D's marketing used the same playbook as Snakes on a Plane and its ilk.
But it still rankles, and the fact that Piranha couldn't even do as well as Eight-Legged Freaks or Snakes On A Plane makes us worry for the future of our culture. What would Roger Corman say? Are we heading for a world in which the only place we can see giant fish biting pieces off of moderately attractive young people is Syfy?
Is it time to flee before the inevitable collapse of society? Will we be living in burnt-out cargo containers watching people make hilarious vampire figures with their hands in front of our trash can fires a year or two from now?