Guinea Pig 4: Mermaid in a Manhole (Manhôru no naka no ningyo) (1988)

There's something fishy happening upstairs.
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Guinea Pig 4: Mermaid in a Manhole

Anyone with the audaciousness to peruse the Guinea Pig franchise will probably know what to expect by part four, a scarce plot with the intention of showing off twisted gore and sadism to disgust and repulse anyone watching. Mermaid in a Manhole (Ginî piggu: Manhôru no naka no ningyo) follows in the footsteps of He Never Dies by delivering a fantasy based gore extravaganza rather than recreating the more sadistic and rapey undertones of the first two but still manages to up the ante with regards to creating a stomach churning experience. The premise is just as twisted as the rest of the instalments in the infamous series and whilst the obvious fantastical plot device of having a blistery pus-filled mermaid as the driving force for the gore, a lot of the nonsensical humour that invaded Guinea Pig 3 has been toned down and a more serious approach has been adopted by director Hideshi Hino (who is also responsible for Guinea Pig 2: Flowers of Flesh and Blood... possibly the best episode of the series which is also repulsive and disgusting with a subtle and surreal tongue-in-cheek humour.)

Mermaid in a Manhole has a simple and straightforward plot, artist loses wife, artist finds mermaid in sewer, artist takes mermaid home to paint her portrait. To be fair there are some emotional issues stirred up as the artist remembers the mermaid from his childhood and seems to be rather enamoured by the fishyness of her lower body, although he has seemingly neglected to think that the third date ritual will probably involve her filling up the bath with caviar and expecting him to come along and fertilize them later while she is swimming back downstream... probably quite a romantic anti-climax which would leave the artist wishing that mermaids were aquatic on the top half and desperately trying to get turned on by a tub full of roe whilst worrying how to afford diapers for six million offspring.

Soon after the mermaid is out of her natural environment of faeces, bacteria, used condoms and giant albino alligator mutants, the consequences of living in a sewer are soon realised as she starts to develop sores over her body which ooze multicoloured pus. As her condition worsens she asks him to paint her picture which he does using the blood and pus emanating from her orifices.

Once the basic scene setting is over, the viewer is treated to the slow and painful deterioration of the mermaid in ever increasing levels of repulsive gore and the futile attempts of the artist to help her... with various tools including straight razors and meat cleavers. As the mermaid's condition worsens the multi-coloured ooze ejaculating lacerations evolve into intestine spilling fissures and the slight bleeding from the mouth becomes full blown earthworm and gut vomiting. But, dedicated to his art, the artist carries on and paints a terrible picture that looks more like Toxie than the naked Japanese festering pile of boobs and fishscales sat in his bath... an artistic endeavour that can only end in numerous severed limbs and a meat cleaver caesarean.

Mermaid in a Manhole has a number of truly gagworthy moments and takes the simple concept of repulsion to another level in the way that Dumplings used food to revolt and disgust without gore. Mermaid manages to take this non-gore repugnance and combine it with a dumpster-load of gore to give an abundance of bile encouraging scenes with an added surrealness to create a notion of mystification and more headfuckery than George "Bloody" Mackenzie. The addition of a somewhat flimsy plot only gets in the way of the gore and the unfortunate couple living underneath the artist's apartment seem to only be included to add some comic relief and padding to what is once again a concept not worthy of a full length feature but definitely worthy of being put on screen just to explore the limits of onscreen indecency. Add to this an extra fishy dimension to an "already explored but not yet taken to a repugnant level" concept and some demented Japanese folklore and you have an experience rather than a movie.

The storyline and the character motivations are extremely twisted but used in an inoffensive and Manga "enthusiasm to believe anything without questioning the logic" way so that the twistedness is wrapped away into the depths of the mind so that the bizarness can add another level of confusion to the mini mind-fuck whilst leaving the nastiness of the situation to rear it's ugly head after the movie has finished. Mermaid in a Manhole aims to nauseate and that it does. After Flowers of Flesh and Blood, Mermaid is the Guinea Pig movie that made the most impact on my life out of all of them. If you are just looking for 63 minutes of light-hearted disgust them this is definitely 63 minutes worthy of your time.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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