Guinea Pig 5: Android of Notre Dame (Nôtoru Damu no andoroido) (1989)

Nôtoru Damu no andoroido.
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Guinea Pig 5: Android of Notre Dame

The fifth of the Guinea Pig movies to hit the small and dirty screen is Android of Notre Dame, Kazuhito Kuramoto's attempt to recapture the serious tone of the more controversial episodes using innocents as the objects of experiments while maintaining the fantasy element introduced after Flower of Flesh and Blood. But devoid of the absurd over-humour of He Never Dies and the complete fantasticalness of Mermaid in a Manhole the combination of previous concepts amalgamates into a fairly wearisome bundle of neither, plus the addition of the diminutive geneticist as the main protagonist and instigator of the torture introduces some (possibly) unintentional comedy. The plight of said geneticist's sister stirs no emotion and the plight of the 10 million yen 21-year-old female guinea pig is not one that captures the sheer unnecessaryness and nastiness of the victims in Devil's Experiment and Flowers.

The plot is a bit more indepth than the usual offerings from the franchise and while this could probably be a positive, in a chain of short movies known for showcasing guts and gore the addition of a more meaningful story simply dilutes the repugnance and in this scenario is not executed in a way that brings anything to the viewer expecting easy on the brain pus filled entertainment. Despite there being some nice gore and a comeback for loud bone crunching sound effects that intensified the horror in Flowers of Flesh and Blood, the even keeled distribution of the butchery reveals no final goregasm as the suffering ante isn't upped enough by the movie's climax. The biggest surprise is the cameo from Pinheads younger, short-sighted and bald brother as a successful yet unwilling android.

A miniature scientist, Karazawa, whos calling in life should have been man-servant to Scaramanga has his dreams of being locked in a suitcase by Roger Moore dashed when his sister becomes gravely ill. Determined to find a way to preserve his sister's essence beyond the grave, the not so bonhomous scientist starts a little bit of animal experimenting. Trying out lipstick on bunnies doesn't further his cause so when the opportunity for a more genetically compatible guinea pig presents itself he is more than happy to part with his life savings for a nubile 21 year old to decorate his operating table.

After some fondling of his subject and some dastardly reanimation surgery Karazawa fails to yield any worthwhile results and determines that he needs a fresher corpse. Kato, provider of the first subject, turns up at Karazawa's house having left his best intentions in the dry cleaners, so rather than take any shit from this underworld corpse dealer Karazawa has a "light bulb" moment and acquires a corpse of the freshest kind and, as a bonus, wipes out his debts.

Android of Notre Dame tries to add a more thoughtful element to the Guinea Pig shorts and outside of this franchise with a bit more time to explore the story and the minimal cast or characters it probably would have worked. It seems that a fairly intriguing story concept was taken and forced into the context of the previous incarnations and square pegs only fit into round holes successfully if the diameter of the hole is more than the side of the square times the root of 2. In this case the peg is unfortunately to blame as the Guinea Pig series is reputed to deliver mindless torment and gore and diluting this with story, no matter how shallow, means that the torment and gore isn't delivered and a story is wasted whereas an adequately sized round peg would have slid in nicely without leaving big gaps.

There is some nice gore with the facial reconstruction and obviously removing an ear with scissors is enough to get most people set up for the day, but it all seems very rushed, the effects aren't brilliant and the splatter seems to have been forced in just to maintain the reputation of what a Guinea Pig movie must deliver. Android of Notre Dame is a worthy attempt at a movie but just doesn't fit in with the others; it indicates that it is time to stop before the series ends up degrading itself by resorting to transvestites, poop jokes and slapstick humour... maybe...
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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