Exclusive Interview: John Gulager, Director of Piranha 3DD


Shock Till You Drop recently spoke with John Gulager, winner of Bravo’s Project Greenlight and director of the Feast trilogy.

In our discussion, Gulager dishes the details on his latest directorial effort, Piranha 3DD, which hits DVD and 3D Blu-ray tomorrow (September 4th). The sequel finds Gulager reteaming with fellow Project Greenlight alums Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton.

John discusses the camp value of Piranha 3DD, taking the reins from Alexandre Aja, and trying to comply with slasher film conventions while keeping things interesting for horror fans.

In the event you haven’t seen the film yet, here is a look at the synopsis for Piranha 3DD. Having awoken from their spring break extravaganza at Lake Victoria, the swarm heads upstream where they look to make a meal out of Big Wet, a local water park where when it comes to fun, nobody does it wetter! Thought they came to get wet, get loaded and get some, the staff and patrons get more than they bargained for when they must face the fiercest, most bloodthirsty piranhas yet. Lead by the strong-willed, studious Maddy and her friends, Barry and Kyle, the trio must dive in and take on these man-eating creatures using every ounce of their being…but can they be stopped?

Check it out after the jump!

Shock Till You Drop: You were not involved with the Alexandre Aja Piranha film. What made you want to jump on board for the sequel?

John Gulager: I saw the Aja film a couple of times in the theater, but I wasn’t involved at all. I just got a phone call out of the blue. It was totally out of the blue. It went something like this “Piranha 3DD. Do you wanna do it? And, I said “Yessss…” It was as simple as that. It was kind of a shock. It was a shock that the call came out of the blue. That’s about how it happened. I think because they wanted something wackier than the first film, for better or worse, the studio thought of me.

Shock: Why do you think the studio wanted to go with a campier approach than the film’s 2010 prequel?

Gulager: I don’t know. The only thing they said was to make a fun movie. So, that was the mandate.

Shock: The critical reaction to the film has been a mixed bag, have you been surprised by anything that you’ve read?

Gulager: Nothing has surprised me, but I read everything. At this stage in my career, I’m not that person that can’t or won’t read reviews. I read everything. It’s distressing and it hurts. You get kudos for what works and the blame for what doesn’t. That’s just the nature of the job. So, you can expect that. I read everything…You jerk.  [laughs]

Shock: I think the film has huge potential as a cult classic. Do you see 3DD achieving cult status?

Gulager: I worked on a movie called Feast that was part of Project Greenlight. When that came out, it got pretty bad reviews. But, it’s slowly found an audience, and now people say it’s good. So, I don’t know. I’ve had experience with this before. We made some low budget sequels to Feast. Some people like them, some people don’t. So, you just never know. Also, I think that things find their audience with the Internet and DVD and Blu-Ray, even if they don’t find them at first. I think this will be the same. I think that if it hasn’t already, the film will find its audience. People will talk about it and I think some people that had negative reactions at first will watch it again and rethink it a little bit. In IMDB forums people will say how much they hated it and then go on to say that they’ve watched it two more times since. It’s like “Seriously, you say that you hated it, yet you watched it two more times?” Things do find their audience eventually.

Shock: In 3DD there were a multitude of very nostalgic throwbacks to the classic days of horror. Was that intended, or was it just how things played out?

Gulager: Yes and no. We tried to not always do what you would expect to happen. If you look at it, not many people actually died. We would always have a lot of close calls. The kids swimming at the beginning were similar to the kids swimming at the beginning of the Joe Dante Piranha. You think that they’re going to be eaten and then they aren’t. So, we would try to do those kinds of things where we would riff on it but it didn’t always happen the way that it would normally be scripted in a horror film. In the horror genre, everything usually follows the horror genre conventions. That’s part of the fun of it. Sometimes it’s fun to fuck with that a little bit. So, that’s kind of where we were going. You’re exactly right, but we would try to goof with it a little bit, too.

Shock: You’ve worked with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan before. Was the re-teaming happenstance or intentional?

Gulager: It was intentional. The studio wanted us all to do it together again, because we had worked together before. In fact, they kind of enjoyed the idea. They felt like they gave us our start. In the back of their mind, they enjoy that kind of idea.

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