Piñata: Survival Island

Starring: Nicholas Brendon, Jaime Pressly

Directed: David Hillenbrand, Scott Hillenbrand

There are movies a lot of people don’t like, but they are still willing to acknowledge that the movies are important. Is The Jazz Singer great? No, but I understand it will always be a staple of any film history class. I know plenty of people who hate Citizen Kane, but what it did to redefine the way movies are made cannot be argued. In that vein, I have chosen a movie often called the “Citizen Kane” of killer piñata movies, Piñata: Survival Island.

Piñata is an odd film that has somehow managed to weave its way into the tapestry of my life.  Along with Ryan, this movie represents the most successful “bad horror movie” night we ever had. Most nights it was just 3 or 4 of us in his small apartment, but on Piñata’s night, there were 15-20 people watching an auteur‘s masterpiece.

Years later, Piñata resurfaced when some other friends and I were road tripping. Exhausted and slaphappy, several of us camped out in my buddy’s parent’s living room and let the magic of a killer piñata wash over us. I would eventually mention this film in the toast I gave at my friend’s wedding. I think it was appreciated, like Piñata was there with us in spirit.

Guess I had better try and explain this very complicated film. A gaggle of sorority and fraternity peoples go to a deserted island for a Cinco de Mayo underwear scavenger hunt/drunkfest/heavy petting extravaganza. Someone finds a piñata full of evil, and you can’t just walk past a piñata without cracking it open. Chaos ensues. A young chap has his junk ripped off. The piñata grows more powerful. Some giggly bimbo is killed. The piñata grows more powerful. “We have to make a stand!” How’s it going to end?

At the end of the day, this is an absolutely terrible movie. The acting is just slightly better than soap opera acting. The “special” effects are anything but.  The story may have been written on the back of a napkin as part of losing a bar bet. Still, I cannot imagine not owning this movie and forcing everyone to sit through it.

Here is one last note about Piñata that always makes me laugh. I have sadly, on more than one occasion, watched the “making of” documentary on the dvd of this movie. The FX guys are so proud of the computer generated piñata monster they created.  They even went so far as to say this movie really helped with their next project, Minority Report! I like to think Spielberg was sitting around watching Piñata, and just knew he had to work with these guys. Yeah, that warms my heart.

Written by Drew Martin