Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)
By: Mr Intolerance on August 14, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Unearthed Films (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. Japanese DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 89 minutes
The Movie
Director: Hideshi Hino
Starring: Kirara Yugao, Hiroshi Tamura
Screenplay: Hideshi Hino
Country: Japan
AKA: Za Ginipiggu 2: Chiniku No Hana
This is pretty grotesque, even by my shockingly low standards.

I'll bet if you're a horror fan, even if you haven't seen this film, you've heard of it. One of the most notorious, infamous films ever made, the "plot" is straightforward: the writer/director was sent a parcel containing a letter, an 8mm film and a series of photographs depicting a brutal slaying. After handing the evidence over to the cops, the writer/director, also manga artist and writer Hideshi Hino, decides to recreate the horrors he saw and read about – this is all explained at the beginning of the film, the text scrolling up the screen. Then the movie proper begins.

A young woman is stalked, as it becomes blatantly obvious, by two people, as she leaves the train station one evening; the stalkers have a video camera and record the event. She's chased, drugged and taken to an unknown location. She's injected with some form of pain-negating drug by a man dressed in a samurai helmet and an apron, who then proceeds to dismember, eviscerate and eventually decapitate her, before adding bits of her to his collection of body parts from previous victims.

That's pretty much the whole story. The film, which cleverly makes the most of being a V-movie (straight to video), clocks in at about an hour, and is basically an example of some pretty nasty special effects at work. There really isn't much more to it than that. Except for the rather fascinating history or mythology that's built up around it, of course.

If you're familiar with the Guinea Pig series, you may wish to skip the next couple of paragraphs. I mentioned the clever use of video before. Considering the fact that most people in the 80's in the West would have seen this film as a fourth or fifth generation dub – crackly, grainy, indistinct - it would have looked like what the media would have us believe a snuff movie is meant to look like. The "plot" certainly equates. Would have been no subtitles either, in those awful pre-DVD days (how did we ever survive?), and the film has no credits, which adds an air of verisimilitude. (NB If you own the Unearthed DVD of Flower of Flesh and Blood, go to the menu, select The Flower of Flesh and Blood. The menu you can see has lips on it. Hit the back button and you'll see a blood splatter appears. Select that and then sit back to "enjoy" the film in 'Snuff-vision' – it cuts out all of the expository dialogue and a number of point of view shots as well as the picture having been degraded to look remarkably nasty and snuff-like – it's an even more disturbing experience than the original, which is a nasty thought). So anyway, apparently (my attorney has warned me to say) a famous Hollywood actor (Ch*rlie She*n) saw a copy of the film, and, thinking he'd witnessed a real live (?) snuff movie, contacted the FBI, who then wasted taxpayers money investigating it. It's cruel the way they let people like that out by themselves…

Any terminal fuckwit who's watched that film and thought it was real must have had their brain swapped with dogshit, or been beaten around the head at birth with a pool cue. The blood and especially the flesh in some cases look dreadfully unconvincing – I'm thinking the arm amputation with chisel, for one. And, and this is the bit I couldn't believe – there's a chicken who gets a point of view shot. I don't think anyone who wants to watch a snuff movie really gives a rat's arse about what the chicken thinks. And why would somebody who has just killed someone on screen let their own picture be taken, thus placing themselves in a more than compromising position with the law? Why would a serial murderer rather decorously obscure the young woman's pubic hair (admittedly with her own internal organs) with the traditional Japanese coyness and reserve for such matters. People, people, people, come ON! Think! This is just as stupid as the morons who thought the actors in Cannibal Holocaust really died, and then had to be produced in court to prove they were still alive. Plus there's the fact that there's never been a single frame of snuff found, ever. I would have thought that the FBI would have had more important things to do, like investigating all that organised crime, and all those guns and drugs going into the country.

That aside, the story keeps going, and in a rather horrible and all-too-real direction. In August of 1989, otaku paedophile Tsutomu Miyazaki was arrested in Japan for the repulsive mutilation and murder of four young girls. It's alleged that one of the murders was carried out in a similar fashion to that depicted in Flower of Flesh and Blood, which is a pretty fucking repellent thought, as he owned a copy of the film, amongst 6000 other tapes, most of which were hentai or other violent films.

The OFLC effectively stopped the Melbourne Underground Film Festival from screening Flower of Flesh and Blood as part of their 2004 line-up. The reason eludes me. Sure, it's pretty nasty. So are lots of films. The re-make of Dawn of the Dead has an MA 15+ certificate in this country – look at the amounts of carnage in that. Or Gladiator. Or Braveheart. Or Saving Private Ryan. Or Irreversible (you know, that film with the 12 minute fixed camera anal rape scene)? Because horror films carry the stigma of not being 'serious', and low budget films don't have the amount of money or political clout to force themselves through, the little guy loses again. And in terms of the censors ever making sense, let's face it – I live in a country where last year Herschell Gordon Lewis' The Gore Gore Girls got binned by the censors, as well as In A Glass Cage (which the OFLC actually acknowledged the artistic merit of), but I can walk into any video store and buy Ichi The Killer, Laboratory of the Devil, Hostel, Zombie Flesh Eaters or Audition. Go figure.
Not the best, it must be said. Still, considering this is meant to be a representation of a clandestine home-made activity, it kind of works well. And the special effects stand up pretty well some twenty or so years later – but the DVD format has not been kind to this film, the higher definition picture revealing some of the flaws inherent to low budget film-making. Watch it in "Snuff-vision" for an abjectly depressing experience.
Japanses 2.0, which is adequate for the intended purpose. Some of the sound effects seemed phenomenally loud and over-powering; the overall effect was kind of surreal. Again, best experienced in "Snuff-vision."
Extra Features
A "Making of Guinea Pig" documentary – more to the point, behind the scenes – which frankly didn't hold much interest for me, but some might find it interesting – we get to see various "so that's how they did it" special effects reveals from a number of films in the series. Besides this one, Devil's Experiment and Mermaid in a Manhole, I don't rate much of what followed, and by the time we hit Devil Woman Doctor, they had degenerated into surreal black comedy – He Never Dies being the absolute nadir. One of the features I quite enjoyed on this disc was the inclusion of Hino's original manga comic – markedly different to what we get in the short film. There are some text interviews with Hino (one with Unearthed Films, one with Dark Side Magazine), and a text history of the Guinea Pig films in some detail. There are trailers for each of the Guinea Pig films (Devils Experiment, Flower of Flesh and Blood, He Never Dies!, Mermaid in a Manhole, Android of Notre Dame, Devil Woman Doctor, The Making of Guinea Pig), as well as a trailer for uber-cool Japanese zombie flick Junk. I've already mentioned the Easter egg that allows you to watch the film in "Snuff-vision", and there are also two others which allow you watch trailers for some particularly nasty films which would definitely appeal to fans of this film – Red Room and Muzan-E. There's also a photo gallery, which I always find a bit mystifying – 1) you've just watched the damn thing and 2) something wrong with your pause button? Also, if you're wanting to stare lovingly at still images of this film – seek help immediately.
The Verdict
This kind of film is never going to win awards or set the world on fire. Like the August Underground's and Murder-Set-Pieces' of the world, this morally repugnant and grimy feeling film is made strictly for the gore-hound market, and should be viewed in such a fashion. Me, I like it. I prefer more of a story usually – but that's not what Hino was trying to achieve with this film. In terms of presenting us with a faux-snuff film: mission accomplished.
Movie Score
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