Come on in, the water's cruel...
Guinea Pig 4: Devil Woman Doctor
Dir. Hajime Tabe, Japan, 1986
Welcome back to Film Gutter, where we seem to be swimming in an infinity pool of insanity first served up to us throughout the mid-80s. Yes, we're paddling still further into the madness that is the Guinea Pig series. Virtually a piece of extreme horror folklore, these movies were notoriously hard to get hold of throughout a whole decade and even to this day are not the easiest to stumble upon. The best bet if you're reading these reviews and thinking – yeah, I've got to get me some of that – would be to visit the good folks at Unearthed Films at http://www.unearthedfilms.com/
Anyway, what we have here is officially number four in the series – the numbering towards the end of these films become a bit confusing, but while this was the sixth movie made it was the fourth of the set to be released. The reverse was true of Mermaid in a Manhole – which we'll be coming to soon enough – in being the fourth made but the sixth to be put out. I think.
Before I get lost down that particular rabbithole, let's talk Devil Woman Doctor. This one definitely seeks to continue the comedic tone from Shudder! However it unfortunately doesn't deliver in quite the same way, despite some good intentions. It's a pretty disjointed offering, and we begin with an introduction from our 'Devil Woman Doctor' as she cuts open a doll which proceeds to absolutely explode with blood.
From there, what we effectively see in this offering is largely a series of medical experiments, along with some genuinely odd mockumentary footage. The movie is quite blatantly cut into parts, which are announced with a jarring blue screen, with little to no effort to connect them beyond the presence of Peter, the drag queen who plays our lead. The rest of the cast are effectively 'shreddies' and nobody else really has a role apart from to die or suffer in increasingly unusual ways. Which is lucky, because to be frank most of the acting is pretty terrible.
Having thought a fair bit about it, the best way I could possibly really tell you what this film is about is to tell you some of the things crammed into its 52 minutes. So here we have exploding heads, zombie dating (with human partners), singing faeces, a man who sweats blood, a talking stomach (taken on the road for what looks like a demented reality TV show), a buffet made almost entirely of human body parts, the dinner date from hell and a man being skinned alive. That's not quite all of it, but as a sampler of the bizarrerie you're going to encounter here it's a useful guide.
And it's that real mish-mash feel that I think lets the movie down. Peter is actually great as the lead – wry, catty, sinister and knowing all at once, and probably the best thing about Devil Woman Doctor. Some of the outrageous outfits certainly add to her odd demeanour. Yet this messy movie doesn't really succeed either as an impactful gorefest or an over the top gross-out comedy, but ends up as something rather marooned inbetween. I'm tempted to say this is the strangest entry among the Guinea Pigs, but there's so much competition for that title I suspect that's going to be impossible to call...
RATING: 4/10. Well, what to say about this one in conclusion? It's certainly angling for shocking, as all of its predecessors were, but simply falls into the camp of being surreal, verging nonsensical. A melange of crazy ideas all lobbed together with the vaguest of links, and even with that they simply don't fit together in any way, shape or form. It has a few fun moments, but even at the short running time of 52 minutes I found myself clock-watching more than I would usually like. For that reason, it's a very subdued 4/10 from me.
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