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Willow

Alex Aja   ('Piranha 3D' - Director) Alex Aja ('Piranha 3D' - Director)

When The Weinstein Company and director Alex Aja were denied showing the blood and boob-filled clip from this summer’s forthcoming "Piranha 3D" in Comic-Con’s Hall H, they decided to make lemonade. Throughout the 2010 convention, billboard trucks rounded the streets of San Diego’s Gaslamp district advertising "Piranha 3D" as “Too Hot for Comic-Con” featuring a Jaws-inspired image of a swimmer underwater en route to becoming fish food.

Aja and the cast screened the footage at an offsite location to largely positive response. Packed to the brim with grotesque imagery and bouncing boobies, Aja got just the reaction he was looking for. “What you saw yesterday is a small part of the movie,” Aja told us after the screening. “There’s the girls and the sexy and the fun, but there is also a story. The story revolves around this guy (Steven R. McQueen) who’s missing Spring Break every year because he has to babysit his brother and sister. His mom is the Sheriff (Elisabeth Shue) of the town and she has 30,000 kids invading her town every year and she wants to be able to keep everything safe until some unexpected guests show up.”

As if rowdy Spring Breakers aren’t enough, Sheriff Julie Forester finds herself dealing with something much more horrific than the drunk, obnoxious teens when an ancient breed of nasty piranhas starts feasting on the vacationers. “The movie is not on the side of the Spring Breaker,” explains Aja. “They are the mass of raw meat and we have them trying to survive that situation. Somehow I have the feeling that, maybe not in the U.S. but in Europe, the movie will be perceived more on the piranha side.”

Aja also throws a few characters into the mix that you can’t help but route against, such as Jerry O’Connell’s thinly-veiled take on Girls Gone Wild guru Joe Francis. “Jerry in the movie is the human piranha,” laughs Aja. “He is like that other kind of predator on spring break. In the water you have piranhas and above you have Jerry’s character.”

For Aja and special effects supervisor Greg Nicotero, part of the fun of shooting Piranha 3D was living out their Jaws fantasy. Nicotero even possesses a full-sized head of Bruce (Spielberg’s nickname for the Jaws shark) in his office. “I have such a great relation with Greg,” says Aja. “We share the same love for specific movies and we have a language that we understand each other. He’s also one of the best and with his crew they are the best makeup you can have.”

The two landed the ultimate coup when Matt Hooper himself signed on to revisit his Jaws character. “We wanted to make something pop culture also and to have that cross with another character from another movie coming in and finishing a story; he survived the shark and this time the piranha won’t let him go. Richard [Dreyfuss] really understood the idea, that we didn’t want him to come and play something else, that he was Matt Hooper and he was coming to play Matt Hooper. He was so happy. It’s a great way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jaws.”

Aja follows a promising line of directors to helm previous efforts about these hungry fish, with Joe Dante directing 1978’s 'Piranha' and King James Cameron admitting to the 1981 sequel 'Piranha 2: The Spawning'. Although Aja hesitates to say he’d take the reigns again, he doesn’t rule out sequel possibilities. “You know, this is piranha,” says Aja. “Piranha can come back and there are many, many possibilities for other stories. I think they will definitely have some other Piranha movies. If we think about a great storyline that can do a real movie and stand on its own, then yes, I would definitely be [involved].”

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