Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)

GP2 Flower of Flesh and BloodThe Devil’s Experiment may have kicked off the Guinea Pig series but the second installment, Flower of Flesh and Blood, is where it really starts to come into it’s own, providing a far more gruesome and brutal entry. It also gained significant notoriety in the states back in 1991 when Charlie Sheen (yes the Charlie Sheen) saw it, was convinced it was a real snuff film and reported it to the FBI. As laughable as this may seem, it’s not completely without merit, as the lack of story and hyper-detailed gore was specifically crafted to give the viewer the impression they are witnessing a real crime. Additionally, the film does start with text stating that the movie was actually a recreation of a genuine snuff film that writer/director Hideshi Hino had received from a crazed fan of his Manga work.

This story became the stuff of urban legend for years and Hino did become the subject of a police investigation because of his work. But despite what some persistent rumors claim, he never actually had to appear in court because of it and revealed years later in a Vice interview that the part about receiving an actual snuff film was a complete fabrication. So, notoriety aside, how does Flower of Flesh and Blood actually hold up as a film? Well, let’s discuss.

Much like Devil’s Experiment, this entry is also light on plot but does actually have a clear narrative structure. It starts with an unidentified woman being chloroformed and kidnapped as she walks alone at night, later waking up tied to a table in a windowless room where torture implements lie about. Her white-faced, Samurai helmet-wearing assailant quickly gives her a mysterious drug that will “turn her pain into ecstasy” before graphically disassembling her body with his crude torture implements. I won’t reveal too many details about what plot there is but suffice to say it does come to a thematically satisfying conclusion that also leaves the door open for a continuation of the twisted story.

The entire film may only be forty-two minutes but packed within that is more gore than you’ll see in many feature-length horror movies. It also achieves a level of graphic brutality that goes far beyond what most other films have the balls to portray and even thirty-two years later, the special effects still look amazingly real. This is largely due to the fact that Hino goes into great detail to show how slow and laborious the process of taking apart a body actually is. This is a level of detail that is often skimmed over in films but as anyone who’s broken down a chicken before knows, it takes a significant amount of effort to cut through bones and joints.

There are also numerous aspects beyond just the gore itself that make this film a very disturbing experience. For one, seeing a person who’s awake but not crying out in pain while someone mutilates their body is actually more disturbing in a way and is incredibly unsettling and surreal. There is also the scene where the white-faced Samurai shows off his “collection” of maggot-infested body parts while an eerie voice recites a poem about Hell in the background. It’s a simple and strange effect that works incredibly well to enhance the disturbing, surreal experience of the film.

The disc from Unearthed Films also includes a making-of featurette which is very interesting to watch after the film. Not only does it show the level of detail that went into crafting the amazing effects but also has outtakes showing the cast and crew joking around and bursting into laughter in-between takes. That itself is perhaps the most surreal part of the entire experience. All in all, a classic piece of horror cinema that’s worthy of it’s cult status and belongs in the collection of any serious gore hound.


Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment (1985)

GP1 Devil's ExperimentHorror fans familiar with the notorious Guinea Pig film series will most likely remember them as “those fucked up faux snuff bootleg tapes” that circulated through underground horror communities in the ’80s and ’90s, much like the Faces of Death films. Even now, the original series is very hard to come by and fans of underground horror will need to be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on the out-of-print box set, if they can find it at all. But find them I did, because no list of the most extreme horror films could possibly be complete without them. I also wanted to see how these films held up in the age of modern Torture Porn and if there was a greater value to them beyond the shock factor.

The first film in the series, Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment has a “plot” that can be easily summarized as “three men torture a woman for forty-three minutes.” However, it would be a mistake to simply write this film off as a misogynistic torture fantasy because there is a lot more to unpack about it than initially meets the eye.

First of all, this is an experimental film and should be viewed as such. The plot itself is not as much of a relevant factor in this case, since the experience is more about the provocative imagery and a visual representation of raw human cruelty and suffering. What’s more relevant is whether or not the film holds the viewer’s attention. In this case, despite the absence of a conventional plot and defined characters, it manages to keep you engrossed and curious to see what comes next as the violence increases in intensity.

A good storyline is an essential component to making a quality film so without that, a movie can’t achieve true greatness, no matter how interesting the visuals are. However, there is certainly something to be said for a film that strips away all pretense of story and presents the raw horror of brutality that is the primary draw for the fans to begin with.

Also, within those visuals, there are a lot of interesting and innovative techniques that are applied. For instance, the use of sound as a torture device, as they strap headphones on her and subject her to 20 hours of blaring noise, enough to drive any normal person absolutely insane. It’s an interesting idea and one that hasn’t been utilized very often since, despite the plethora of creative torture that’s been featured in countless films since. The hot oil scalding and hand crushing are also worth noting but the real standout is the needle through the eye, a ghastly and brilliantly executed effect that still holds up decades later.

All this aside though, what really makes Devil’s Experiment significant is how pioneering it was and it’s substantial contributions to the genre as a whole. A primary example of this is how the film is bookended with text telling the viewer that this is a “private video” the unknown writer of the narration obtained and that the info about the people involved is “missing”. Certainly not the first example of a “found footage” film but definitely a very early and influential example that would help pave the way for an entire subgenre some years later.

It’s also interesting to note that the tactic actually worked a little too well and producer Hideshi Hino had to prove to authorities that no one was actually hurt during the making of the film, just as Ruggero Deodato had to do with Cannibal Holocaust a few years earlier.

Another significant contribution is that this film was one the earliest, if not the earliest, examples of a Torture Porn film, despite the fact that the actual term wouldn’t be officially coined for another twenty-one years. So, regardless of how well the film overall holds up, there is no denying its important influence on not one but two subgenres of horror.

Despite it’s historical significance, I do have to concede that the overall watchability of the film isn’t terribly high and many of the less remarkable scenes do drag on a bit with little to hold your interest. Not to say there isn’t enough there overall to keep you watching, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be checking your watch during some scenes, especially towards the beginning. Regardless, this is undoubtedly a film worth tracking down, not just for the couple of scenes of effective gore but also to witness a piece of underground horror history for yourself.