When planning an island underwear scavenger hunt, make sure the island isn't haunted by an ancient force of vengeance trapped inside a piñata. If not, enjoy the game! If so, this movie happens.
2002's Piñata: Survival Island gathers a group of sorority and fraternity kids together for a scavenger hunt and Cinco de Mayo celebration. Luckily, death awaits.
One of the teams awakens a soul-eating piñata that enjoys murdering people on the island. An opening sequence reveals the piñata was created as an atonement vessel that would end the drought and pestilence ravaging a village. After the village piñata-smith crafted his clay masterpiece, the village shaman adds a pig's heart, a sacred stone, and some official markings. Everything will be fine as long as the piñata remains undisturbed. If it is disturbed, the island turns into MurderVille, Population: an evil piñata and a bunch of corpses.
The aforementioned sorority and fraternity kids arrive on the island with nary a care. However, Kyle (Nicholas Brendon) mopes around like a vampire with a soul because his ex-girlfriend Tina (Jamie Pressly) is also competing in the scavenger hunt. Of course, when it comes time to pair the scavenger hunters, Tina and Kyle are handcuffed together. During the hunt, Kyle and Tina have long conversations about their break-up while the other teams demonstrate their exemplary cannon fodder status.
The evil piñata starts picking off competitors whenever they do something unseemly. A fraternity member who brought some marijuana to the island is killed. A team cheating during the scavenger hunt is also quick to leave this mortal coil. So far, Xander and Tina - erm, I mean Kyle and Tina - are too boring to die.
While the predatory piñata makes its way through the coeds, Tina and Kyle continue to process their issues. It turns out Kyle broke up with Tina because she kissed someone else. By the time we reach this shocking revelation, we are really hoping for mega piñata death.
The movie features an all-star cast of actors you remember from something else but cannot quite put your finger on what that something else was. Harvey from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (Nate Richert) meets an awful demise.
Good horror succeeds when it connects with the base fears of humanity. For example, the above scene combines two instinctual fears. One character cannot escape witnessing a horrific act of violence while powerless to stop it - it's the basic human fear of helplessness. Then there's the guy whose gentials are torn off by an evil piñata - which reflects humanity's basic fear of having one's genitals torn off by an evil piñata.
Piñata: Survival Island will also give Xander Harris fans a thrill. Nicholas Brendon finally gets to play a typical hero. He punches! He kicks! He answers history questions for bonus underpants! Kyle is the only character who can withstand the strength of the piñata. But in the end, Tina saves the day.
By the way, nobody gets any candy when the piñata is smashed. What a ripoff.