Piñata: Survival Island (2002)

Pinata-Surival-IslandI remember checking out the trailer for this online and thought it was a funny idea. So, when it finally appeared on television, I had to check it out for a laugh. After a long-winded and pretentious opener in which a Mexican narrator informs the audience about the legend of a piñata which held the evil essence of villagers to restore prominence back to the village, we get into modern times where a bunch of college students prepare for a scavenger hunt. If you’re going to watch this, watch this for the horror clichés that embroil within this. There’s your usual cast of characters that serve no other purpose than to die in the hands of the evil piñata.

There’s your usual people: your token ethnic characters including a tough hispanic chick, and an African guy who spurts slang within every spoken word, there’s the kinky sex kitten, the geeky girl, the beer guzzling moron, the adrenaline pumped jock, the hero, and the heroine. Sure, this is an age old formula, but I’ve never seen it put to such use before. There’s nothing but fun in this film and you can’t help laugh at the horrendous acting by the cast, and the stupid scene where, for some reason, the two game hosts test the students on the island’s history. They never assume that people who chuggle beer like water may not know anything about Mexican history. Plus, it’s hard to imagine these annoying people actually go to college.

The entire film revolves around this paper thin love feud between the two leads Kyle (Nicholas Brendon: Buffy, the vampire slayer) and Tina (Jaime Pressley: White Trash, Ringmaster) who split in college and are mad at each other, yadda, yadda. It’s fun watching this series of events bring these love birds together. Nicholas Brendon who just came off his charming role as wisecracking Xander on the “Buffy, the vampire slayer” series is pretty interesting as the reluctant hero and manages to pull off the brooding silent mystique, well. Jaime Pressley does what she can with her character and comes off as a rather charming character. Funny, she’s in her late twenties to early thirties and she’s in college; hard to believe isn’t it?

This is such a dumb film; it’s not hard to imagine why this film never made it to the mainstream. Who ever would think a film about a killer piñata would be scary or thrilling is kidding themselves, and the Hildebrand brothers are doing just that; kidding themselves. The piñata monster is not even scary; for the close-ups there’s a little dwarf in a rubber foam costume, for the long shots there’s a badly animated computer monster flying around chasing people. You can even see through the monster’s eyes, a device that borrows from “Predator” (a much better film), but resembles a kaleidoscope. The piñata is hilarious looking and sometimes cute never even coming close to becoming scary; It has a big head, white eyes, a rubber foam lower half and wobbles around with a stick bashing the skulls of its victims. It sometimes looks like a demonic “Pokemon” creature.

It has a cool device that might have worked in a better film: it can suck the evil out of a person and then the souls, but is there any reason to bash the victims to death when it can just suck the life force? You can tell it’s a dwarf running around in a cheap suit, and its a killer watching it running through the forest. There are other clichés from horror flicks that is recycled in this film. After the long intro showing the origin of the monster in the opener, our hero Kyle conveniently knows the tale of the evil piñata and re-tells the origin to the audience all over again. I don’t see why the Hildebrand brothers couldn’t have cut the intro and went straight into the movie, but this isn’t exactly a masterpiece. The killing is funny; even one scene where the piñata comes from behind a girl and bashes her over the head.

If you look closely you can see she’s already bloody before the piñata attacks, and it’s rather funny. There’s also a hilarious sequence when the piñata pulls a girl into a tent and kills her. The directors look like they’re not even trying to compose a good horror flick, and its clear by the film’s light tone rather than attempting a dark and murky atmosphere. Finally, there’s an ending when the federal government comes onto the island after the carnage and asks the two survivors what happened. Good thin they didn’t re-start the movie. Yes, this is a bad horror film, but it’s not an awful horror film. This is nothing more than a guilty pleasure that is fun, campy, and hilarious and will do nothing but entertain you and I enjoyed it. Appreciate it for what it is and have a ball!