DAY 1. SLIP INTO SOMETHING CHALLENGING: Ease into 2019’s list by watching something with a lot of slime, body goop or questionable muck in it. Wiggle your toes in the gooey glory.
Sure, I could start off easy. But I’ve already watched Street Trash, The Stuff and Society, the two movies that most make me think of slime in films. Movies like Slime City Massacre, Slime City, The Green Slime and The Slime People seemed too easy.
Which meant that there was only one place to go: Hideshi Hino’s Guinea Pig series. Part 6 to be exact. Mermaid In a Manhole.
If you don’t know what Guinea Pig is, you probably shouldn’t.
Hino was born to Japanese immigrant workers in Northeast China and his family left just as Japan surrendered to the Soviets. They were nearly killed en route and when they arrived back in the mainland, he’s claimed that his grandfather and father were both in the Yakuza. These memories have informed his horrific manga visions in books like Panorama of Hell and Ghost School.
Hino produced the Guinea Pig series to transform his manga into movie form. These videotapes became infamous when the fourth film of the series, Devil Woman Doctor, was found in the thousands of tapes that Japanese serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki owned. Because of this controversy, the series went out of print but the series has been reissued on DVD in the US, UK, Netherlands and Austria.
In 1991, the series made international news thanks to Charlie Sheen. Film Threat editor Chris Gore had given him a copy of the series and upon watching the second installment, Flowers of Flesh and Blood, Sheen was convinced that he was watching a snuff film. He called the FBI, who soon learned that Japanese authorities were already on the case, as they had summoned the filmmakers to court to learn if the movies were fake.
Maybe everyone would have been better off if they just kept watching, because at the end of each video, there was behind the scenes footage of how the makeup and FX were achieved.
Make no mistake — these are unrelenting and sadistic films. Your capacity to withstand gore will be tested by them. But this is perhaps the easiest in a very rough lot and absolutely overflowing with the requisite slime, body goop and questionable much for today’s challenge.
The Guinea Pig 6: Mermaid in a Manhole (Za Ginī Piggu: Manhōru no naka no Ningyo) is based on one of Hino’s manga stories.
An artist is trying to cope with the death of his pregnant wife through the work he creates. For inspiration, he often visits the sewers beneath Okinawa, places that once had been rivers where he once met a mermaid as a child. Now, she has been trapped in the sewers but agrees to let him paint her.
However, all the time within the muck and bile has given her tumors all over her body. The artist takes her back to his home and keeps her in a bathtub, giving her medicine in the hopes of bringing her back to life.
The more she suffers, the more she oozes blood and pus from nearly every orifice in her body, fluids that the artist is able to use to create art. Yet with each brushstroke, she’s nearer to the final curtain, demanding that he continue painting her all the way to the point of her death.
That said — she may not have been a mermaid at all, but instead his terminally ill wife — and the fetus that he removed after her death just possibly may have been their child. Yet where did the scale come from that they discovered in the bathtub? And just what is moving in the sewers after the credits?
Mari Somei, who played the mermaid, is a real trooper for her work in this, being covered near head to toe in practical and oozing effects. The artist is played by Shigeru Saiki, who is in Audition as well as several sentai shows on Japanese TV.
As for answering the Scarecrow Challenge for today, I don’t know where else I’d be able to find a movie so awash in fluids. There are literal geysers of vomit, blood, bodily fluids and even intestines filled with worms and insects spraying out all over the bathroom tile. There’s a message here about love and loss or art and death, but really, it’s nearly an hour of watching a mermaid expire in a filthy tub. Only in Japan, right?