Saturday, 1 March 2008

Za ginipiggu 2: Chiniku no hana (1985)

Your tooth decay brings great dishonour to the daimyo

The Za ginipiggu (Guinea Pig) series of films were an attempt to create the most vile, disgusting horror films possible. Based on a viewing of the second, they largely succeeded. There are six films in the series, seven if you count Za ginipiggu 7: Zansatsu supeshyaru (Guinea Pig 7: Slaughter Special), which is essentially a highlights reel.

The first film surrounds kidnapping of a young girl, who is subjected to a series of tortures as an experiment on the human pain threshold. The abuses start out as relatively mild (Loud noises? Punching and kicking? Administering shots of booze and spinning her around in a chair? Around here we call that "Friday night at the pub") but gradually ramp up in intensity. The third film marks a shift in tone for the series, eschewing the documentary realism for a semblence of plot and elements of humour.

The second film, Za ginipiggu 2: Chiniku no hana (Guinea Pig 2: Flowers of Flesh and Blood) is probably the most (in)famous in the series. It gained brief notoriety when Charlie Sheen came across a bootleg copy of film and the called the FBI, believing it to be a genuine snuff film. Looking at the special effects, it's not hard to see why. Only the editing techniques and a few cartoonish sound effects betray it's origin. Completely plotless, and filmed in a grainy, pseudo-documentary style, the film shows a man dressed as a Samurai slowly and graphically dismembering a sedated girl while reciting poetry. And that's it. It's hard to call it a "horror" film. Certainly it has the capacity to horrify, but there's none of the suspense traditionally associated with horror films. It's like the difference between eroticism and hardcore pornography.

And hardcore it most certainly is... it makes the "torture porn" of the last few years look like a model of restraint. The special effects in this film are some of the most gruesomely realistic I've ever seen. As my review history demonstrates, I am a seasoned gorehound, but this film had me staring at the screen in mute horror, occasionally saying to myself "How did they do that?"

The film was written and directed by Manga artist Hideshi Hino, who injects a vein of queasy sexuality into the proceedings. The film was hugely popular in Japan, but came under public scrutiny when they were discovered in the house of a serial killer, Tsutomu Miyazaki, who had apparently re-enacted one of the scenes from the film in the murder of several little girls.

To say this film isn't for everyone would be a gross understatement. I shudder to contemplate who it might be for.

No comments: