Exclusive : Piranha 3DD producer on cut cameos, ditched dialogue & the Hoff!


“Piranha 3DD” (premiering at theaters day-and-date with a VOD and Facebook outing) reunites Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames and some toe-munching water monsters in an exceedingly fun sequel from director John Gulager.

“Feast” director John Gulager reunites with prolific producer Joel Soisson, well-versed in the world of horror movies having worked on such films as “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 : Freddy’s Revenge”, “Dracula 2 : The Ascension”, “Children of the Corn : Genesis” and “Pulse”, on the Dimension films’ follow-up. In this exclusive chat with PHOEBE GALLAGHER, Soisson talks about how much sway he has on a film like this, some of the cameos he would’ve liked to have had in the film but couldn’t pull off, his love of ‘The Hoff’, and the film’s run-in with the classification board.

You have worked with Dimension on a few films, and most of them horror. Is that how you came to be involved in ”Piranha 3DD”?

Over the last decade or so, I’ve been lucky enough – if that’s the right word – to be one of the guys Bob Weinstein calls when a script is not going quite the way he wants. Which was the case with P3DD early in its development. Of course, the flip side is that he has plenty of guys he can call when he doesn’t like what I’m doing so it all evens out in the end.

Ha Ha. Do you feel more at ease, and less conscious of overspending, when you’re working on a bigger budget film as opposed to something direct-to-DVD like ”Children of the Corn : Genesis”?

Quite the opposite, actually. On the larger budgeted films, I feel like I’m spending down dad’s whole paycheck and he’s watching me like a hawk. On the smaller films, like Corn, it’s more like “Here’s a nickel, Kid. Knock yourself out.” I can actually do pretty much whatever I a want. As long as it doesn’t cost.

So both are challenges, in other words. As a producer, how much say did you get in ”Piranha 3DD”’s direction or tone, and for that matter, casting?

Very good question. “Tone” was everything on this movie. How scary? How funny? How stupid? How over the top? We were all over the place on this one. Some drafts of the script were almost, dare I say, realistic. Luckily we went with stupid. I think I had a lot to do with that. As for casting, not so much say in the matter. While I really loved the cast of our film – even [Gary] Busey – now that the pain in my ass has abated somewhat, Dimension is very much in control of that process. They make the final call and usually make the right one.

Aside from Busey, you have some wonderful cameos in the film from the likes of David Hasselhoff and . Is there anyone you’d have liked to have gotten, but couldn’t?

Former basketball great Charles Barkley, hands down. During the scripting stage, Bob Weinstein had suggested there be more celebrity lifeguards than just Hasselhoff. Off the cuff, he threw out names like Snooki, Kim Kardashian and Barkley. Now, I don’t watch that reality shit so I don’t know much about Snooki and Kim but I am a HUGE Barkley fan. Seeing Sir Charles toss out some of his classic lines like “You know why that little girl’s crying? It’s because she’s thinking ‘my daddy’s a wussy'” — well there are at least 27 different situations in our movie where that line would have killed.

Oh that would have been great. Speaking of, how does someone like David Hasselhoff react to being offered such a part – he must have a sense of humor about his image?

Hasselhoff initially turned the movie down because I had written some dialogue that referred back to his infamous hamburger incident. I had the water park owner offer him a burger and Hasselhoff was supposed to say “Is that supposed to be some kinda joke?” and the owner is like, “Huh?” cuz he’s never seen the video. I know, not all that funny and I was more than happy to dump it to get the Hoff on board. Turns out, when I had a chance to discuss the matter with him, all he wanted was to take ownership of the gag. In his version, he would be the one asking for the hamburger. Subtle difference but I totally got where he was coming from.

The Hoff is his own creation and he plays it to perfection. He is the Hoff, on screen and off, and even refers to himself as The Hoff when in casual conversation. He transcends egomania. I am truly in awe. I love that guy and I’m not joking. He loves his life and makes you love it too. I would even make “Schindler’s List” with The Hoff. He’s that good. And the Germans would actually dig the movie this time around.

They would! [Laughs] How difficult is it to make a movie on or around water? I take it it’s technically a challenge?

Water, bitch. Children, bitch. 3D, bitch. 3D and water, mega bitch. All the above, plus shooting in the frigid spring before our actual water park opened for business, beyond bitch. Thank God we had no dogs. Although one of my best scenes cut from the script involved a dog that was afraid of the water and finally makes the big rescue. I gave that gig to our human hero in the movie. Probably a smart move, schedule-wise.

On that topic, why was ”Piranha 3DD” delayed? Was it simply a case of finding a better release date for it?

The only way we would have made our original date was if the very first director’s cut had been approved by the studio. Surprisingly it wasn’t.

Oh. Rating issue? Many of the young people’s horror movies these days seem to be watered down, aiming for a PG-13 audience. ”Piranha 3DD” seems to be on a different path, but is the version we’ll be seeing in theatres edited at all? Will we get a more hardcore uncut version on DVD?

I was shocked, truly astonished, that the film got an “R” rating on our first submission. I would have invented a new rating: NCNP. No children, no parents. Sorry, no extra badness on the DVD. All the badness is baked into the pie already.

Good news I guess. Is there any talk of a third “Piranha” film yet? Or can you tell us anything about your upcoming projects?

I can’t see how it would be possible to go beyond this film without involving nuns and laparascopes.

As for my next film, I am currently licking my wounds since my Cliff Young movie was delayed until after the ABC broadcasts its own competing version next year. It was a race to see who got to go first. And it turns out, you can’t outrun a TV movie. I have a couple other films in the works that I don’t wanna jinx yet by announcing them. There is a benefit to going stealth.

Thanks Joel!

Thanks for letting me prattle away on my favorite film website!