If you are in a nervous disposition, or under the legal age limit to view the equivalent of NC-17 rated films, we highly suggest that you do not scroll any further. The review’s descriptions, and the pictures contained within this review, feature extreme depictions of bloody violence and gore, and are not to be viewed by anyone with a faint heart. Proceed with caution.
By now, even someone with a marginal understanding of Japanese cinema probably needs no introduction to the underground short movies known as “Za Ginnipiggu” in Japan, and “Guinea Pig” elsewhere. Most probably only know of them because Charlie Sheen, who was probably coked out and surrounded by the whores at the time, saw a brief portion of the film at a party and reported it to the FBI, convinced that it was a legitimate snuff film. It was, of course, later revealed that it was merely just camera trickery and makeup. Those films have something of a love-it-or-hate-it reputation worldwide, and unsurprisingly so; for every peron who labels them as nothing more than hateful and disgusting, there’s someone who finds them fun to watch, even if it’s just to marvel at the convincing gore effects. Keep in mind that these movies came out in the 80s, and back then, there was nothing like them- the gore effects are just as convincing today as they had to have been back in the 80s. And despite the rather dated synthariffic soundtracks and video look, they do have something of a timeless quality to them, even if it is just merely watching them for the red stuff flowage.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
With this in mind, and the popularity of the films in North America, it’s enough to make one wonder why it took Unearthed Films so long to try to make an American equivalent. Because after all, in the mid-2000s, with the short-lived explosion of Torture-porn in the mainstream, mainstream horror seemed to be dominated by Saw and its many copycats. The mid-2000s would have been a perfect time, and the mainstream would certainly have devoured it, with trailers for films like Slaughtered Vomit Dolls making the rounds online. But even moreso, back then, the idea of an American set of Guinea Pig films just generally makes perfect sense for that time period when you consider that bootlegging had reached an all-time high in North America- the amount of bootlegged copies of Battle Royale sold in North America is simply astronomical, and so American versions, for those tired of having to take to eBay to get their gore fix, an American Guinea Pig series would be a blessing. But it’s also enough to make one wonder if, timeliness aside, they would have been a good idea. The announcement in 2014 that Guinea Pig was finally being made for the US was met with much bafflement, as was its title, Bouquet of Guts and Gore, and the fact that the person in charge decided to go right ahead and remake the Japanese films’ most notorious entry first.
Bouquet of Guts and Gore, as you probably guessed from the title, is a loosely based remake of the canonical second film in the Japanese series, Flower of Flesh and Blood. For some reason, it’s meant to be a continuation of the series and not a remake- which makes it the seventh film in the series as a whole, and at 72 minutes, it is the longest film in the series. Instead of one woman, it’s two, and the idea is that two indie filmmakers are filming the dismemberment and disembowelment of the two women, and there’s a catch- they are doing this because they captured the perpetrator’s children, and to get them back, he must dismember and disembowel them completely. There’s another catch- these two women are mother and daughter. And they are given large doses of LSD to eliminate pain and also to turn all feelings of pain into pleasure. That’s as much of a story that this film is going to have, and if anything, why should it have much of a story? People don’t watch these for the story, right? Admittedly, it is an interesting concept, and we actually do get to see his kids at the end. And I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some things about this version that weren’t intriguing. You see, I saw the Japanese movies between the tender ages of 13 and 15. As this was the mid-2000s, the films had gone out of print, and eBay was the best bet at getting them- but of course, why would my parents, were they in the right mind, let me buy these? I mean, they let me watch Scream and Saw and all those gory mainstream horror films, but of course, there was no way in hell I’d be allowed to own these movies. However, at the time, they definitely were a thrill to watch, even if it was the sheer novelty of watching those movies known as those “fake snuff” movies.
It may be the fact that I’m now 23 and my tastes have certainly refined, but it’s clear that they were attempting this vibe here, and the problem is, such a novelty isn’t thrilling anymore. The whole “grainy and shakily filmed” thing is no longer convincing to the masses, as films like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield have done them in. In addition, many films that are far gorier and more disturbing have come out, namely Martyrs and A Serbian Film. However, you do have to give props to filmmaker Stephen Biro for his effort. He does a pretty competent job directing the film, which is filmed by the two masked actors who are forcing the (also masked) father to dismember these two girls. He actually gives a careful attention to detail, and it shows in shots such as near the end, when “The Actor” removes the left woman’s ribcage, or the attempt at removing one of the women’s thighs. It’s also unknown whether or not this was intentional, but the film does seem to have a commentary on “artistic” filmmaking, much like A Serbian Film did. Except it’s a bit more direct here- at the end of the film, these two depraved teens are seen splicing the film together to make a complete version of the film. They have no remorse at all- in fact, they’re laughing and joking lightly like they were just making a good old low budget horror film, and they seem to be under the impression that people aren’t going to assume its real- that, or people won’t be convinced enough to pull a Charlie Sheen. They also don’t look as though they’re the type who would capture people let alone force them to kill them. It’s unclear whether or not this was Biro’s intention, but it is definitely intriguing and will stick with you when the credits begin rolling.
Additionally, a lot of the gore effects look really damn good. They don’t have that same shock effect that the Japanese films did, but there are some good effects as far as gore goes. Some of them look really, really bad at times, but considering this is a low budget movie, much of it is well done. The atmosphere of the film is well done- the soundtrack consists mostly of droning noise that would cause Sunn O))) to have nightmares, and some of the squelchy sound effects are disgusting and horrifying enough to make you almost-puke.
However, there’s a good deal of problems too- to begin with, the film is just way too long. 72 minutes is too long for a film like this, and you can even fast forward at times and not miss anything. There are repeated instances of shots lasting for longer than needed, like 3 whole minutes of putting on a torniquet, and instances of unnecessary dialogue (“It won’t cut through!” “Cut higher”), and too many “oopsie daisie, my camera ran out of film” moments (Seriously, those grated at the worst of times). Additionaly, the film is missing the poetic feel that the Japanese original did. For a shlocky B-movie, the original Japanese film had moments of poetry- be it some of the close-ups, the narrations from the samurai, or even that creepy song he sings at the very end of the movie. Additionally, it also lacks some of the black humour. There’s one scene in the original where he finishes the woman off by chopping her head off, and her head flies right off and hits the wall, combined with a hilariously over-the-top sound effect. These moments sadly aren’t to be found here, and the film takes itself too seriously, as if it’s some intelligent art film or something. Films like these do require moments of comic relief to keep themselves running, or otherwise they become dull. 72 minutes of nothing but gore becomes less horrifying and impactful after a while.
Overall, I’d say that American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore is definitely worth watching, but it has to be watched with an open mind. Ultimately, it is ruined by the inevitable comparisons to its Japanese counterpart, but even with these in mind, it is an intriguing watch, and definitely NOT for the faint of heart.
Scott Baldwin likes cosplay, Doctor Who, heavy metal, Marvel Comics and Godzilla. He does not like long walks on the beach because his feet overheat quickly. He travels to europe far too much for his own good. He also regularly contributes to Sputnikmusic.