Come on in, the water's bloody...
Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood
Dir. Satoru Ogura, Japan, 1985
Welcome back to Film Gutter, where today we continue our dive back in time to the mid-80s, a time when the slasher and the video nasty were truly blooming and starting to show their dark beauty. And the Japanese wave of extreme cinema at this time was led by the notorious Guinea Pig series, taking in six parts over four years. We've already taken a visit to the 'laboratory' for The Devil's Experiment, so now it's time for a stroll in the garden to see what the Flower of Flesh and Blood has to offer. As an interesting piece of urban folklore about this movie: Charlie Sheen was apparently given a copy of this movie in 1991 and when he watched it he immediately called the FBI, believing the depictions of torture and violence to be real. The filmmakers were investigated by US and Japanese officials and had to give a demonstration of the special effects used in the film before the investigation was dropped.
Oh to live in such simple pre-CGI times eh?
Anyway, this movie is presented with an introduction that tells us it is based on an 8mm reel sent to a controversial cartoonist, although this is not actually that film itself. I'm not quite sure what this adds, but that's what we begin with. Then we move to the abduction of a young Japanese woman, who wakes up in a dingy room which will be the home for the rest of the movie. The filming is a bit steadier and easier to watch than the first in the series, but the content certainly isn't that easy to watch.
Remember me saying that The Devil's Experiment was pretty much 45 minutes of torture? Well, here we have about 45 minutes of a woman being dismembered. Hideshi Hono plays the psychopathic, samurai-clad tormentor (as well as producing, directing and writing the original manga this film was based on) and his poetic ramblings about the beauty of the blooms of blood emerging from each fresh cut are as nonsensical as his dissection is gleeful. His first act is to behead a chicken ('This is your fate!') before injecting the young girl with something he mixes up which apparently makes the pain feel pleasurable.
And from there it's a pure chop-em-up – starting with hands, then arms, then legs, then evisceration, beheading and removal of the eyes. Each brutal act is accompanied with a bizarre explanation of its beauty – and I will say for Hono he is seriously committed to this role and his delivery – and a docile, almost willing victim beneath him. The violence is pretty realistic-looking, and there are no punches pulled in terms of the range of tools used – suffice to say nothing is severed simply. Our unnamed samurai lays his blades and edges out like an artist does his paintbrushes.
I don't know if the victim's effective compliance here makes this more or less 'torture porn' than its predecessor in the series, but the silence does add a crunching impact to the awful acts committed that might have been lost otherwise. The sounds echo horribly at the heart of the slim soundtrack. And while there's again nothing much discernible by way of plot here, there is at least a sense of attempted artistry and also a semi-twist at the end of the piece. I like to see an effort made, but unfortunately the concessions to traditional storytelling are pretty small, drowned in a welter of gore. So, for the second time in a row, what we have is more of a faux snuff film that anything resembling a movie in the sense that we generally know it.
RATING: 5.5/10. Hard to go overboard on this one, but for me there is a small step up from Guinea Pig's opening effort. The piece makes an effort to be some kind of art – although falls far short of the efforts of directors like Dora and Buttgereit, in particular – and even intimates a plot in its closing moments. But, when you break it right down, it's hard to get an awful lot of enjoyment out of this piece apart from the joyfully over-the-top showing from Hideshi Hino, who might just enjoy his role a bit too much for comfort. So it's a minor improvement for a total 5.5/10 here.