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All reviews - Movies (43) - DVDs (2) - Books (5) - Music (2)

"Day of the Woman"...The Ultimate Day of Terror!

Posted : 10 years, 7 months ago on 3 March 2010 11:57 (A review of I Spit on Your Grave)

There are many arguments for and against this '70s cinema shocker. Most claim that it's just misogynistic trash (and rightly so, though I'm not condemning it - many '70s exploitation films are just that); and still others claim it's some sort of feminist manifesto that pushes feminist ideals to the extreme (leading up to some very literal demasculation). However, I really don't care about any of that. It's simply a gritty rape/revenge exploitation film, which also happens to be a bonafide, sleazoid grindhouse classic!

The story, such that it is, involves Jennifer (Camille Keaton) who takes a trip to the countryside to write her first novel. While sunbathing in her bikini by the river, she attracts the attention of some local yokels on a boat. These same yokels later humiliate and repeatedly gang rape her in the woods (and if that's not bad enough, one of the hoodlums is mentally retarded, and the others just spur him on - this has the unsettling effect of making an extremely uncomfortable scene even more unbearable). But they're not done yet. Jennifer finally makes her way home, and they follow her there so they can brutally rape her again. These scumbags would make the inbred hillbilly rapists from Deliverance say "Oh my Gawd, that's just TOO much!". The rest of the film is spent showing her bloody and brutal (and audience pleasing) revenge on them.

This plotline would be done to death by numerous films throughout the '70s and '80s. Another film that treats this same subject matter, but I think is actually superior, is Abel (Driller Killer) Ferrara's Ms. 45.

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"Vampyros Lesbos are after me!"

Posted : 10 years, 7 months ago on 3 March 2010 10:20 (A review of Vampyros Lesbos)

Cult director Jess Franco's sexy, psychedelic and surreal vampire tale. Linda (Ewa Stroemberg) falls under the hypnotic spell of Countess Nadine (the beautiful Soledad Miranda). Through dreams, she lures Linda to her secluded island manor, eventually seducing her and biting her neck. Linda awakens in a clinic run by Dr. Seward (Dennis Price), who we later find out wants to use Nadine to become a vampire himself. Countess Nadine is descended from Count Dracula's vampiric bloodline, and she intends on continuing the line through Linda.

Franco uses elements of Bram Stoker's Dracula and Dracula's Guest, Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla, and the legend of Countess Bathory to weave together this gothic vampire story meets hallucinogenic '70s-era kitsch. The swinging lounge/funk/psychedelia-laced soundtrack by Franco himself, along with fellow musicians Manfred Hübler and Sigi Schwab, certainly adds to the energy and ambience of the film. I love Franco's choice of locations too, interiors and exteriors. They fit the dream-like style of the movie. Of course, anyone who's familiar with Jess Franco's films knows to expect frequent "zooms", some "zip pans", and the occasional "herky-jerky" camera moves; but that just comes with the territory, and it's not as noticeable in this film as some of his others.

For those who haven't tried a Franco film, I can't think of a better movie to take your first bite out of than Vampyros Lesbos - except maybe Venus In Furs, which is even better in my opinion. If you don't like either of these two films you might as well skip the rest of Franco's lengthy filmography. Along with Italy's Joe D'Amato and France's Jean Rollin, Jess Franco is to filmmaking what Thunderbird is to fine wine - "An American Classic", you say? No, an acquired taste that's really cheap and sleazy but gets the job done! And once you acquire a hunger for Franco films, you'll keep coming back for more, no matter how bad a taste it leaves in your mouth. Can you say S-A-D-O-M-A-N-I-A? I knew you could. Bottoms up!

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"This Is Not an Exit"

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 12 September 2009 09:02 (A review of American Psycho)

Set primarily during the late '80s, Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho" is a scathing (and often explicit) satire on the excessess of wealth and its dehumanizing effect on the main character, Patrick Bateman - a Wall Street investor by day and a psychopathic serial killer by night. Ellis' graphic descriptions of violence and sexual sadism (barely even touched on in the film adaptation, starring Christian Bale) caused a lot of controversy when the book was first released. Some book stores even refused to carry it. But many people miss the point. The violence, while gratuitous, is still integral to the story and the message that Ellis is trying to convey. "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here", is a message that Patrick Bateman observes, scrawled in graffiti on the side of a building. This reference to Dante's "Inferno" is important, as the reader is dragged into the downward spiral of Bateman's own personal hell. Now I have to go. "I need to return some video tapes"!

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Atmospheric Italian Classic

Posted : 11 years, 7 months ago on 11 March 2009 12:41 (A review of Mill of the Stone Women)

A classic example of gothic Italian horror from the '60s. This was originally released in 1960, which would prove to be a seminal year for Italian horror. Mario Bava's directorial debut, Black Sunday, was also released this year. Mill Of The Stone Women was directed by Giorgio Ferroni, who would go on to direct one other horror film in 1972, Night Of The Devils. He was more well known for his "peplum" (Italian heroic fantasy movies) and westerns. The story concerns a young researcher named Hans who travels to a remote village (in 1890's era Holland) in search of a strange tourist attraction - The Carousel of Stone Women. The "carousel" is a large mechanical device featuring life-sized moving statues of famous and notorious female historical figures; and the whole attraction is housed within a windmill, owned and operated by an eccentric art professor named Gregorius Wahl. Wahl welcomes the young researcher, giving him a tour of the mill and allowing him access to diagrams of the machine, which his father had built. Wahl gives Hans five days to study the machine, after which time he must leave the mill. It turns out Wahl has a daughter, Elfy, who ends up becoming attached to Hans. Hans realizes Elfy may be mentally disturbed or perhaps something else altogether. I won't go into anymore of the plot for those who haven't seen it, but it's a movie worth seeking out, especially for those who like the atmospheric gothic films of Mario Bava, Riccardo Freda, and Antonio Margheriti. It was shot in Technicolor, and it makes good use of the process with some great visual set pieces. I haven't seen Ferroni's other horror film that I mentioned above, Night of the Devils, but apparently it's based on Russian writer Aleksei Tolstoy's novelette Sem'ya Vurdalaka, which also provided the basis for "The Wurdalak" segment of Mario Bava's Black Sabbath.

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"Bedtime Stories from Hell"

Posted : 11 years, 9 months ago on 21 January 2009 03:19 (A review of The Burning Moon)

German splatter films are certainly not for everyone. Most of them are shot on video with a miniscule budget, amateur acting, weak plots, and bad lighting. But you don’t watch German splatter for its production value or character development. You watch it for one thing, and one thing only – the extreme gore (and maybe the unintentional laughs provided by the bad acting and often horrendous dubbing or subtitling). Of course, with the ultra-low budgets the gore can sometimes come out looking like a Herschell Gordon Lewis film; but that’s not a bad thing in my opinion.

BURNING MOON was directed by Olaf Ittenbach, a major player in the German splatter scene, having directed 11 films. His most acclaimed and well known film is PREMUTOS. Unfortunately, his first attempt at international recognition was LEGION OF THE DEAD, which was completely butchered to secure a watered-down R-rating. BURNING MOON was Ittenbach’s second film, following BLACK PAST in 1989. Shot on video in 1992, BURNING MOON is an omnibus film, consisting of two individual stories and a wrap-around story. The wrap-around story begins with a depressed delinquent and heroin junkie (played by Ittenbach), trying to find a job, unsuccessfully. He returns home where he attacks his mom for questioning his behavior and cusses out his dad for making him babysit his little sister that night. Then he retires to his room to shoot up, after which he walks out on his balcony to gaze at the moon, which eventually bursts into flame (in his heroin-fueled mind, anyways). He then wanders to his little sister’s room and begins telling her horrific bedtime stories, sure to induce nightmares. These two stories are what make up the rest of the film.

The first story is called “Julia’s Love”, and it’s about a psychopath who escapes from an institution and ends up meeting a girl named Julia. She discovers his identity and manages to escape, but accidentally leaves her purse in his car. He uses her I.D. to track down her address, and then proceeds to slaughter her family in various gory ways, including machete dismemberment, decapitation, and one particularly brutal stabbing scene. He’s got a thing for Julia; and he’s a real charmer too, “Julia, I want to have kids with you. I want to penetrate you. I want you to absorb all my love juice.” The psychopath’s mannerisms, way of speaking, and even his looks to some degree, remind me of the killers in Michael Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES. There’s a cool “splatter gag” in this segment that would make Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento proud. The killer asks Julia, “Does your mother know what’s deep inside of you?”, as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out her mother’s gouged-out eyeball, “Swallow this!”. There’s a POV shot from inside her mouth as the eyeball is shoved in, and then a POV from the eyeball as it slides down her throat. Awesome!

Now we move to the next story, and my favorite, entitled “The Purity”. It concerns a mild mannered-looking parish priest named Frank, who’s not a priest at all. Well, not a priest for Jesus, anyway. He’s a soldier in Satan’s Army. He’s sending souls to Hell by raping, killing, and sacrificing them to the Devil in order to reach a level of dark “purity” within himself. There’s some cool visuals in this segment too. In one scene Frank has a flashback to when he was a child. He’s praying in front of a large crucifix, and he has a vision of Jesus’ mummified corpse hanging on the cross, before it bursts into flame. Then a black-robed demon emerges from the fog and hands him a diabolical-looking book. Now keep in mind this is a German splatter film, shot on an extremely low budget, so these visuals are not full of great cinematography or production design. It’s just cheesy, theatrical satanic imagery; but still cool none the less. There’s also some of that unintentionally hilarious dialog I mentioned earlier. In one scene, while Frank is in the middle of raping someone and spouting off dialog, the subtitles state, “The fruits loops your body and now you are wandering through the darkness.” Say what? Fruit loops? What in the name of Toucan Sam is he talking about? Earlier in the segment, the priest asks someone if they know what happens to sinners in Hell, he says, “You can’t imagine it. It’s so horrific to imagine it.” But don’t worry gore fiends, you won’t have to imagine it, as Ittenbach shows it to us in very graphic detail. He saves the best for last, as this final scene showing the tortures of the damned in Hell is, by far, the best and most ambitious splatter scene in the whole film.

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Last House on Dead End Street - Review

Posted : 11 years, 12 months ago on 24 October 2008 12:55 (A review of The Last House on Dead End Street)

Let me start off this review by saying this is a one of my personal favorites, and for those who seek it out based on my review (or any other positive reviews) may not see it in the same light. Despite the title, it’s not a rip-off of Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and I feel it’s actually superior to Craven's movie. It's certainly more vicious and disturbing.

The film begins with Terry Hawkins being released from prison after serving one year for selling drugs, and through his "inner monologue" we learn more about his pissed off and nihilistic view of society. "I'll show 'em. I'll show 'em all what Terry Hawkins can do!". And show them he will. He finds an abandoned building and decides to use it as his "production studio", exclaiming to the girl who's with him, "I wanna make some films here - some really weird films!". He meets up with a former "business associate", Ken, who has film equipment and has been making movies with a porno filmmaker named Palmer. We learn some of Ken's sordid past. He had worked in a slaughterhouse for a while; and we're shown some foreshadowing inserts of cow slaughter. Apparently Ken was a bad boy though, and he some time in an institution for porking dead cows, as he explains to Terry, "You know how horny you get? You'd stick it in a mud puddle if you could find one, but you can't find one in the middle of winter, you know." So Terry and Ken decide to partner up on these new films Terry plans to make. Next Terry meets up with another former associate named Bill, who's a camera man. Terry uses his winning personality to convince Bill to join his entourage, "Now get all this crap together and be ready to go in an hour!". Now we move to a crazy little shindig being thrown at Palmer's house (the porno filmmaker I mentioned earlier). His wife Nancy is a kinky one and likes painting her face black prior to being whipped by a mentally handicapped hunchback, as the party guests laugh and cheer her on. An oddly surreal scene, no doubt. Meanwhile, her husband and his producer, Steve, are in the study viewing Palmer's latest film, which the producer is not too impressed with, "Palmer, you sit here showing me 10th rate porn while your wife is in the next room getting her ass whipped, and you have the nerve to talk to me about your reputation?!". Steve then tells Palmer they should hook up with this guy Terry Hawkins, who's planning on doing some films no one's ever seen before. Now we cut to the chase. Terry's "new style of film" is snuff films. His crew wears these creepy, semi-transparent theater masks while he dons a huge Greek god-style mask, and they kill their victims on camera. Steve, the producer, finds a lucrative underground market for the films, but makes the fatal mistake of cutting Terry out of the profits. Terry repays the favor by using Steve, Palmer, and Palmer's wife as "actors" in his final masterpiece. What follows is a gruesome, disturbing and often graphic account of their last moments caught on film. The foreshadowing slaughterhouse scene I mentioned earlier plays out here in the end, involving a branding iron, throat slashing, stabbing, mutilation, dismemberment, and disemboweling. In one sickeningly surreal scene of humiliation, Steve is forced to fellate a deer hoof, protruding from between the legs of one of Terry's female crew members, as another crew member holds two other hoofs up to the girl's head (as though they were devil horns). It's a bleak and nihilistic film with a suitably bleak ending, although there's some tacked on narration stating that Terry Hawkins and the other members were later apprehended and are serving time in prison. This narration was never part of the original film and was probably added by or at the request of a distributor who thought audiences couldn’t handle such a bleak ending without some form of punishment for those involved.

I remember first reading about this film in some article by Chas Balun, either in Gorezone or Deep Red, back in the late ‘80s. It was originally distributed on VHS by Sun Video in small quantities. I was actually lucky enough to have found a rental copy back then and dub it. It seemed like such a dangerous film made by reckless filmmakers who just didn’t give a damn about playing by the rules. To add to the film’s notoriety, all the people involved were hiding behind pseudonyms. It was later revealed that the writer and director of the film was a New York resident named Roger Watkins, who also played the role of lead maniac Terry Hawkins. His main influence for the story was Charles Manson and his followers and the rumor (now an urban legend) that the Manson family had made some snuff films. He and a dedicated group of theater and film school friends shot it back in 1972 (while he was in a meth-fueled haze, according to Watkins). The original title was THE CUKOO CLOCKS OF HELL, a reference from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Mother Night (which has nothing to do with the film, by the way). The running time of this original print clocked in at nearly 3 hours. At some point it was cut down to the lean and mean 80 minute version that exists now. Unfortunately, the original 3 hour print has been lost, and all that remains of it is about 20 minutes of silent footage, included on the Barrel Entertainment DVD. Hopefully this print will resurface one day, because I would sure love to see it. In 1977 it was retitled THE FUNHOUSE, and it made the rounds through the grindhouse and drive-in circuit. It was later retitled LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET and raked in more money at the grindhouses by using an ad campaign that cashed in on the success of Wes Craven’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT – “It’s Back! The Evil That Had You Screaming…It’s Only A Movie!”. It also played on some double bills with Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES.

The movie was shot on 16mm film which gives it that grainy and gritty documentary-like feel that is perfectly suited to films dealing with this subject matter. It was also shot without sound, with the dialogue, sound effects, and music dubbed in later. This can usually hurt a film, but here it gives it a disjointed feeling. That, combined with the minimal synthesized soundtrack and the looping and echoing of various dialogue, add to the unsettling effect of the film. It’s like the visual equivalent of listening to Nurse With Wound, Coil, or some other early industrial artist. One aspect I love about this movie, and other ultra-low budget DIY movies like it, is that it’s a big defiant “middle finger” in the face of the money-hungry Hollywood studio system. This subtext is actually in the film itself, with Steve and Palmer representing the Hollywood studio system, out to make a buck by feeding the masses what they want to see. But their product has become boring and trite, and they’re losing money. In comes Terry Hawkins, an underground independent filmmaker with a vision to give people something they’ve never seen before. Of course, "Hollywood" rips off his product, puts their own name on it and run with it, cutting the independent filmmaker out of the picture all together. The only difference here is that “Hollywood” pays the ultimate price in the end. Die Hollywood, die!.

If you’re a fan of hardcore horror and exploitation films you should track down a copy of LHODES. The folks at Barrel Entertainment released a definitive 2-disc DVD set back in 2002. I think it’s out-of-print now, but it’s definitely worth seeking out. It still packs a punch today. For better or worse, this movie along with Michael and Roberta Findlay’s inferior film SNUFF, gave rise to the whole pseudo-snuff genre; and are the predecessors to the Japanese GUINEA PIG series films DEVIL’S EXPERIMENT and FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD, as well as the AUGUST UNDERGROUND films. Roger Watkins died in 2007. Prior to his death, he had written a sequel to LHODES and was set to direct it, with the help of Fred Vogel’s Toe Tag Pictures (the guys behind the AUGUST UNDERGROUND films). The last I heard, Toe Tag still owns the screenplay and may eventually shoot it.

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Wild Zero - Review

Posted : 12 years ago on 23 October 2008 12:59 (A review of Wild Zero)

The film opens with hundreds of flying saucers headed towards Earth - MARS ATTACKS-style. This is intercut with scenes of a rockabilly/punk-loving little misfit named Ace, who's greasing his hair up and getting ready for the Guitar Wolf event that night. ROCK 'N' ROLL!! - and we're off to the club where Guitar Wolf is playing a blistering version of their song "Jet Generation". After their set, Guitar Wolf gets into a confrontation with the drugged-up club owner, blowing his fingers off with a pistol. The club owner later takes off after Guitar Wolf for revenge, driving his hot rod, toting a shotgun and wearing leather shorts that are entirely too tight and entirely too short. Ace gets involved with and begins to fall for a girl who turns out to be a transvestite. Some zombies show up for some flesh-eating fun. And then the movie really gets crazy. This film is ridiculous and zany; but above all it's Fun (that's right, with a capital "F"). How could you not enjoy watching Guitar Wolf take out multiple zombies by throwing guitar-pick lasers at them in rapid succession (like some kind of punk rock ninja)? There's a decent amount of gore on display, as well. I've said this before in other reviews, and I'll say it again; it's just not a zombie movie without some good gutmunch scenes, and WILD ZERO has a few of them. There's also plenty of splattery gun shot squibs and zombie head explosions too. The zombie make-up is straight out of George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD - blue greasepaint; and I like it. Some of the zombies who have close-ups have a bit more extensive make-up: flesh wounds, rotting skin, etc. The soundtrack, mostly by Guitar Wolf, is all high-octane rock 'n' roll and punk, which keeps the energy level up throughout the movie. Fans of horrorpunk and psychobilly bands should get a kick out of this film. If you ever thought to yourself, "Wow, I'd like to see a movie that combines ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL with DAWN OF THE DEAD by way of Peter Jackson's BAD TASTE, with a Japanese flavor" - then this is the film for you.
I'd also say it's somewhat reminiscent of the punk-fueled cinema of Sogo Ishii, and it would make a great double feature night with Ishii's BURST CITY or ELECTRIC DRAGON 80,000 V.

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Clean, Shaven - Review

Posted : 12 years ago on 15 October 2008 01:11 (A review of Clean, Shaven (1993))

A schizophrenic man, Peter Winter (a great performance by Peter Greene), is released from an institution and goes in search of his young daughter, Nicole. He returns home to find out his mother had put Nicole up for adoption. Another element of the story involves the murder of a young girl, whose body was discovered on the grounds of a hotel where Peter had stayed while making his way home. Detective McNally believes that Peter is responsible for the murder and is trying to track him down before he can reach Nicole. Writer/director Lodge Kerrigan manages to create a very multi-layered story, full of paranoia, that compels the viewer to keep watching. Peter Greene's performance as a schizophrenic, plagued by hallucinations is ultimately realistic and believable. His hallucinations are not of the psychedelic visual kind, but rather auditory; and the subtle soundtrack as well as the sound design help convey the mood. His schizophrenia and paranoia lead to acts of self-mutilation. As uncomfortable and jarring as these few scenes are, they never degenerate into gratuitous shock effect, but are a realistic portrayal of his way of releasing his fears and delusions. And every scene he's in is filled with paranoid tension, which forces the viewer to experience things the way Peter does. This aspect of the film reminds me of Roman Polanski's 1965 classic, REPULSION. Tension is also created by the fact that the viewer is kept in the dark as to whether he murdered the young girl earlier in the film or not. So when he finally finds (and essentially abducts) his daughter, you don't know what the outcome may be. This independent film is certainly unconventional and far removed from your average polished Hollywood production (thankfully), so don't expect a satisfying ending that answers all your questions. In the end, CLEAN, SHAVEN is an emotionally stirring character study of mental illness on par with the above-mentioned REPULSION and David Cronenberg's SPIDER.

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Entrails of a Beautiful Woman Review

Posted : 12 years ago on 14 October 2008 04:21 (A review of Entrails of a Beautiful Woman)

This is the sequel (in name only) to the infamous Japanese sex/gore film ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN, by the same director, Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu. Komizu also directed the third and final installment in the series in 1987, most commonly known as RUSTED BODY: GUTS OF A VIRGIN III. His only other directorial effort of note is the zombie film LIVING DEAD IN TOKYO BAY in 1993. Now onto the story. A group of Yakuza gangsters rape a girl, Yoshimi, who's been searching for her sister. Her sister had ties to the Yakuza, and they tell her she was sold into prostitution in Africa. They then inject Yoshimi with a highly potent form of dope called "Angel Rain", and two more Yakuza thugs rape her. She manages to escape and finds a hospital where she tells a nurse her story, before making her way to the hospital roof and jumping to her death. The nurse decides to avenge Yoshimi's death and infiltrates the Yakuza clan. She gets caught and, of course, gang-raped like Yoshimi. They inject her with a large dose of "Angel Rain", which kills her (or so they think). Instead it inexplicably turns her into a hulking, skinless beast with a giant mutant boner! Then she exacts her bloody revenge on the Yakuza members. The ridiculous and thread-bare plotline is just an excuse to string together the various softcore scenes and, eventually, the gore. I say eventually, because it's 50 minutes into movie before the creature makes an appearance. The movie is only 68 minutes long. That's about 20 minutes worth of gory carnage. What a missed opportunity. The creature reminds me of the skinless people in HELLRAISER, except for the giant phallus, which resembles the "chest-bursting" critter from ALIEN crossed with the writhing fly larvae in the dream sequence of Cronenberg's THE FLY. Sound disgusting? It is. The last 20 minutes feature some decent gore FX and one memorably disgusting scene involving the creature's "appendage" and a sleazy Yakuza girl. Let's just say there's some disturbing foreplay before leading up to a stomach-bursting "climax" (a la ALIEN mentioned above). That's pretty much it. If you've read this far, then you already know if this is the type of movie you want to see. It's a fun and mindless diversion for fans of gore, who don't mind softcore sex scenes; or for fans of softcore sex who don't mind gore scenes (whatever floats-your-boat). It could have been a lot better though if the creature had started his/her wrath of gory, mutant-phallus carnage earlier in the movie. Oh well. In the immortal words of Martin the caretaker in Friday the 13th Part VI, "Some folks sure got a strange idea of entertainment!".

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"...the red flower shall bloom..."

Posted : 12 years ago on 10 October 2008 12:37 (A review of Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood)

For fans of underground horror, this film needs no introduction. It’s one of those (un)holy grail movies for gorehounds that’s usually perched near the top of any extreme horror list along with CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, MEN BEHIND THE SUN, and more recently the AUGUST UNDERGROUND films. And like those films, it has a polarizing effect among diehard horror fans. It usually divides viewers into those who see (and enjoy) the film as pure shock value entertainment with over-the-top gore FX; and those who see it as pure exploitative garbage appealing only to “sickos” of the lowest common denominator. I happen to fall into the former group, and I have no problem defending the merits of extreme cinema (as anyone who’s read my reviews already knows). Then again, I’ve always admired movies and filmmakers that go beyond the pale of good taste, that try to shock and shake the foundations of the viewers sensibilities, even if that means inspiring as much disgust and revulsion in the viewer as possible. If these types of films offend you, or if you just like horror movies that “play it safe”, then you should probably stop right here because this is the kind of film that throws down the gauntlet, so to speak. It delivers a cinematic sucker-punch to the gut and dares you to keep watching. There is no real plot to speak of in this movie. One night a man chases, chloroforms and abducts a girl off the street in Japan, binds her to a bed in his blood-stained “slaughter room”, drugs her, and while donning a Samurai helmet, systematically tortures, dismembers, disembowels and finally decapitates her, all in full gory detail and using a variety of sharp instruments. In between the butchery he delivers some poetic dialogue likening the spurting blood and grue to the blossoming of flowers (hence the title of the film). So basically, it’s a pseudo-snuff film. And for those who don’t know, the GUINEA PIG films were a series of shot-on-video mini-movies (about 50 minutes in length), produced in Japan in the mid to late ‘80s, directed by various Japanese filmmakers, and aimed squarely at the burgeoning home video market. FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD is the second in the series, following the similarly-themed and equally grotesque DEVIL’S EXPERIMENT; and it was written and directed by famed manga artist Hideshi Hino. The fourth installment in the series, MERMAID IN A MANHOLE, was also written and directed by Hino, and it also features plenty of the “red stuff”. For MERMAID, Hino drops the pseudo-snuff angle and goes for a story that resembles the dark visions of his manga books like Panorama of Hell and The Bug Boy. The Guinea Pig films were never officially released on video in many countries, including the US; and were distributed via underground VHS bootlegs, which is how I first came across it. And let me tell you, watching FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD on a 5th or 6th generation VHS bootleg is a much more disturbing (and realistic) experience than watching the remastered version on the Unearthed Films DVD. Not to mention that the old VHS bootleg had no credit sequence or dialogue, which added to its mystery and notoriety. I have to give props to Unearthed Films for releasing the GUINEA PIG series in the first place, but also for including the original VHS bootleg version of the film as a hidden “easter egg” on the DVD. There are a few interesting stories surrounding FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD. One is the legend that it’s based on an actual snuff case. This story was most likely concocted by someone involved with the film (probably for added shock effect), who claimed that the director received a parcel in the mail containing one 8mm film reel, some still photographs and a letter all detailing the ritualized dismemberment and slaughter of an unidentified girl, which they handed over to the authorities (after viewing it of course). They insinuated that the case had to be kept quiet so as not to cause a public outcry, because the killer was never caught. And FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD was supposedly a recreation of the 8mm snuff film. This is highly unlikely. I don’t care how “quiet” the case was kept, some information and details of it would have leaked out if it were real. This legend, of course, just boosts the notoriety of the film and has the same effect that the narration at the beginning of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE had about it being “…an account of the tragedy that befell a group of five youths…The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history.” And to this day you’ll find people who swear up and down that TEXAS CHAINSAW happened exactly as the events portrayed in the film (rather than being very loosely based on Wisconsin’s favorite ghoul, Ed Gein). Another story about FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD happens to be true. Noted genre journalist, author, and all around horror guru Chas Balun had acquired a copy of the film, and at the request of a staff member on Chas’ Deep Red magazine, he edited together the goriest bits of FLOWER with a slew of gory scenes from other horror films, to be played at the staff members birthday party. Within no time, the tape had been bootlegged and distributed all over the West Coast. At some point, Charlie Sheen saw a copy of this tape and believing it to be an actual snuff film, he reported it to the FBI. The GUINEA PIG films had already been under investigation in Japan and were, of course, determined to be fake. Another more horrifying story involves the Japanese serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki, dubbed “The Otaku Murderer”, who killed four girls between the ages of 4 and 7 in 1988/89. The atrocities he inflicted on the bodies included mutilation, necrophilia and cannibalism. When the authorities searched his home they discovered a collection of nearly 6,000 pornographic and/or violent videos (including the GUINEA PIG films and videotape footage of some of his victims corpses). He supposedly re-enacted some of the scenes from FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD on one of his victims. That is the sordid legacy behind one of the most notorious gore shockers ever made.

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