I’ve started down a very bloody path with the Guinea Pig movies, and I intend to finish it. This time I’ll be taking a look at Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood. If you haven’t done so already, please go back and read my review for the first movie in this series, Devil’s Experiment. It gives a little background on the series as a whole and contains some points relevant to this review.
Like Devil’s Experiment, Flower of Flesh and Blood was released in 1985. It was written directed by Hideshi Hino who is known for his slightly cartoonish yet thoroughly disturbing manga. According to Hino himself, the story goes that his name got thrown around at the wrap party for the first Guinea Pig movie, so one of the producers approached him to see if he would be interested in working on the second one. Hino’s manga work tends to include striking images of excessive violence and gore, so he was a perfect fit for what the Guinea Pig producers wanted.
As a writer, Hino initially wanted the movie to be story-driven, but he was given some pretty strict restrictions by the producers. They basically told him to forget the story and just do it so it’s cheap, quick, and easy to make. With these limits set on what he would be able to produce, Hino decided to make the movie in the style of a snuff film, an urban legend which was receiving a lot of attention in Japan at the time. He intentionally stripped away everything that would give the audience any indication of a moral theme or the characters’ feelings. What we’re left with is something that certainly feels like a snuff film, but even knowing that this was the intention (or maybe because of it) doesn’t make it any easier to watch.
The movie starts off with a woman being stalked through the streets of Japan. She is chased and then quickly caught and subdued by a man. The camera work is done from a mostly first-person perspective giving it an authentic feel, but there are a few edits that couldn’t have reasonably been done without multiple takes or some prior setup coupled with some good luck. It’s not a complete deal-breaker for the whole snuff feel of the movie, but it certainly raises some questions for observant viewers.
The woman then slowly wakes up to discover that she’s been tied to a bed in a dark room that looks more like a dungeon of some sort. Blood is splattered all over the walls and floor, and a man wearing a samurai helmet stands near the foot of the bed sharpening a small scythe. After a short (and bloody) demonstration that comes off as a kind of sacrifice, the man drugs the woman and begins his work. Or maybe more accurately, he begins his art.
Similar to Devil’s Experiment, Flower of Flesh and Blood is broken up into different sections. These sections aren’t as rigid as the hard chapter breaks of the first movie though. Instead, the man will periodically look into the camera and talk about what he’s going to do next. Also, instead of the different torture techniques used in Devil’s Experiment, this movie is all about very bloody dismemberment. Each segment in Flower of Flesh and Blood consists of the man methodically chopping, sawing, cutting, and ripping the woman apart piece by piece. As the viewer, you’re not looking forward to (or dreading) the next inventive technique in each segment, you’re simply watching the pools of blood get bigger and bigger as the woman becomes segmented herself.
Much like the first movie in the series, the woman in Flower of Flesh and Blood is essentially a prop. She is in a semiconscious state for the duration of her dismemberment. She moans from time to time and moves just enough so the viewer can see there is a live person there, but she’s really just another tool that the man is using. Like a canvas is to a painter. Again, this was most likely by design so that the viewers don’t make a connection with any pain that she might be enduring. Instead, viewers are forced to focus solely on the actions of the man. It makes the movie fairly uncomfortable to watch and makes you start to question why you are watching it in the first place. At least it did for me.
One reason someone might want to watch this is for the effects which are very well done. Experienced gorehounds will probably be able to tell how they’re done, but that doesn’t make them any less effective. The combination of realistic looking props, stomach-turning sound effects, and massive amounts of blood and gore work to create some memorable images that you’ll probably want to forget. For me, one of the most enduring images comes at the climax of the gore. It feels like a reference to the climax of Devil’s Experiment, only taken to much greater depths. Do you know about the (fake) fad of Oculolinctus from a couple of years ago? Well, it’s like that, only much, much more disgusting.
The way Flower of Flesh and Blood is shot goes a long way in creating the memorable impression that the movie has. Hino, as a manga artist, is a very visual creator and it shows in the choices that he makes in directing. He’s familiar with using horrible things to create striking images. This can be seen even further when, after he’s done with the woman, we get to see an explanation for his actions (if not a very good reason). The man in the samurai helmet is a bit of an artist himself and he shares some of his works with us. As reprehensible as this movie will be to some people, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t created with a clear vision and the talent to see that vision through. Even with its noticeably low budget, that much seems apparent.
As I was watching Flower of Flesh and Blood, I felt myself not liking it. I felt sure that my review was going to be pretty harsh like my review of the first Guinea Pig movie was. But after a little reflection and looking at the reasons why I reacted negatively, I found that I respect the movie for what it is and how it was made. Will I ever watch it again? Probably not any time soon, but it’s definitely worth watching for horror fans.
6 – Pretty Good
It’s a movie that is intended to provoke a certain reaction. Some people might see it differently than me, but that’s one of the things that makes it interesting. It probably won’t be an easy watch, but I recommend all fans of horror, and especially gore, to seek this movie out. Not just for its historic significance (this is the movie that Charlie Sheen thought showed a real murder), but for how it makes you feel during and after watching it.
I don’t really want to say too much about Martyrs because it could ruin the experience, but it’s a movie that makes you think. Well, it made me think. It’s often categorized as part of the New French Extremism movement in film that includes movies like High Tension and Irreversible, and it contains a fair amount of violence, torture, and gore. It’s not just about the violence though. There’s a lot more to it.
Apparently there’s a remake of this coming out pretty soon. I think that’s completely unnecessary. Watch the original.
English Title: Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood
Japanese Title: ギニーピッグ2 血肉の華
Japanese Title (romaji): Ginii Piggu 2: Chiniku no Hana
Director: Hideshi Hino
Featured Cast: Hiroshi Tamura, Kirara Yugao
Run Time: 42 minutes
Availability: Available on DVD
(There is a region 1 release of this with subtitles and a making-of feature included. You can sometimes find it on Amazon, but you might have more luck with Ebay. Just be patient and you should be able to find it for a decent price. It’s also included in a box set with all of the Guinea Pig movies, but that can be pretty pricey.)
Watch the trailer
(This trailer contains what I would consider one of the less effective effects…)