Pinata: Survival Island (2002)
A Killer What?
Pinata: Survival Island (not to be confused with 2005’s Survival Island where the monster is a killer Billy Zane) features a killer pinata. Now I wish by that that I meant this this movie featured a 10-foot-tall Mexican candy donkey covered in crepe paper and filled with weird peanut butter discs and gross Tamarind-based sweets but alas, we’re not going nearly that nutty.
Instead we get this goofy rejected proof for the troll in Ernest Scared Stupid who is some sort of Mesoamerican worry doll filled with all the strife of a tribe of people several hundred years ago. As doofy as the costume looks the 2002 direct-to-video CGI does it no favors. There are some brief moments where the jerky, plasticy CG is reminiscent of stop-motion animation but it mostly just looks shitty. The one nice detail is the way the pinata’s clay skin cracks when it transforms into something more nimble, but even that is realized with weak CG.
Is It Any Good?
Not at all, the conceit here is “What if Predator, but bad?” This film subscribes to the theory that characters in horror films are just bodies upon which to have gore effects happen and if we hate them from the jump then we won’t be upset when they’re brutally killed. The problem is that they’re so obviously death-bait that we form no emotional connections to any of them.
The only real “characters” in the movie are the leads played by Jaime Pressley and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon. Their entire character arc is that they broke up before the film over a mis-understanding which they resolve before they even encounter the pinata. Both of them are talented actors but they’re given nothing.
The movie audaciously tries to homage Predator both in the monster’s weird pinata vision and literally throwing on the Predator theme for a couple bars late in the movie.
That’s not to say the film is without its delights. See, our killer is a pinata so what would his slasher weapon be? A stick, of course! The pinata beats people to death with a stick and it’s wonderful. There’s even some halfway decent practical gore gags that work pretty well.
Unfortunately the plot (frat and sorority on an island), the characters (obnoxious college kids), the setting (an island), and the monster (a sports mascot-looking pinata monster) and the hook all fall flat. Yes folks, the hook to this movie is not the pinata, Pinata Survival Island (A.K.A. Demon Island) is a holiday horror film and has staked Cinco de Mayo as its Friday the 13th. Not since Memorial Day Massacre has a holiday setting been so superfluous.
Watch, Toss, or Buy
It’s funny but not that funny, toss it.