by Hideshi Hino, 1988, 57 mins, starring Shigeru Saiki, Mari Somei,
Masami Hisamoto, and Tsuyoshi Toshishige.
you've read the intro page to the Guinea
Pig series, you know pretty much what to expect from this one. OK,
so it's not quite as sadistic or misogynistic as Flower of Flesh
and Blood or Devil's Experiment, but in its own way
Mermaid in a Manhole is as worthy as Japanese horror flick as Evil
Dead Trap or even Audition. It's the
gore, you see; pure, unashamed gore. While Evil
Dead Trap was trying to be a US slasher clone, and Audition
tried to bore the viewer to death before going for the jugular with
piano wire, Mermaid in a Manhole is actually quite a quirky
little movie, with stuff to say about body image, the nature of
art and... lots of gore. Naturally.
on glorious 80s videotape in old-school 4:3, and featuring a mermaid
(Mari Somei) with the most bushy eyebrows you've seen this side
of the Gallagher brothers, the premise is basically this: a nameless
artist (Shigeru Saiki) returns to an idyllic river he last experienced
in his childhood only to find it's been turned into a sewer. And,
even better, he finds his dead cat Chibi there, who he has
to paint. Why, only his muse can tell him.
ah, his muse... years ago, in the river, a beautiful mermaid sang
to him... and he painted her. And now, in the sewer, he finds her
again, only this time she's rotting from some horrible pustulous
disease that she's picked up from the sewer. So, naturally, with
his wife having left him (clumsily slid into the plot in a scene
with the artist's neighbours) he carts her home somehow, and installs
her in the bath. Whereupon he doesn't run down the chemist's to
get some penicillin, oh no. Instead, he rubs in some herbal ointment
in the belief it'll clear up overnight, or something.
course, the nasty infection doesn't clear up overnight. If anything,
it gets worse, and in a scene that must be the first filmic example
of Gorn (that's gore and pornography, folks) the mermaid's
blisters pop iridescently and she, in great agony, starts sweating
and moaning and writhing and bouncing up and down in the bathtub
as if she were experiencing a good seeing-to. The whole atmosphere
of Gorn isn't helped by the artist running up and down the stairs
clutching towels and yelling "I'm coming!". Bloodily,
the episode comes to an end and you get the feeling you've just
witnessed Japan running out of red ink for the rest of 1988.
Mr Artist is all at sea now, not having medical qualifications and
all, and feeds Ms Mermaid giant stinking fish whose remains revolt
the neighbours. And he paints her. Badly, it has to be said, because
it would be a great surprise to me if Mr Artist ever managed to
sell many of his paintings, so limited an artist he is. Just look
at the couple of examples we've got on this page. Good, eh?
I digress. Of course, the infection doesn't clear up and indeed
starts to spread up the mermaid's body. Mr Artist, in his medical
wisdom, decides to lance them with his painting scalpel. Well, it's
a start, I suppose. Only, the pustules miraculously spurt (and,
in the spirit of Gorn, that is the only word to describe what they
do) multicoloured pus, which the artist collects in jars and uses
for, yes you've guessed it, painting the sodding mermaid again.
it was at about this point, dear reader, that this reviewer gave
up any pretence of taking this film seriously and just went along
with it and laughed at the gory bits and pretended to get just a
little grossed out by some of it. Though, frankly, while the effects
at the time might have been state of the art, nowadays the pustules
look as if they're made out of Playdoh and the mermaid, when the
infection has progressed up her torso (but, in the spirit of Gorn,
not entirely obscuring her breasts, of course), looks like
a slightly unfinished high school art project, or at the very least,
something The Saatchi Gallery might be interested in. Of course,
when the worms start to emerge from the blisters (why? you ask;
well, worms are cheap, and a little gross) the little mermaid gives
up wanting to get healed and positively demands the artist
paints her. Which, seeing he's been doing that for a good twenty
minutes already, is nothing new, but still.
things eventually progress to a natural conclusion, which may be
guessable, but I'm not letting on. Let's say there's a cod-psychological
conclusion tacked on the end, which may or may not explain the presence
of the mermaid. It's very much though a typical non-conclusive Japanese
ending, much like pretty much any other film on this site.
its favour, this movie is short - only 50 odd minutes. And, be warned,
it will turn the stomach of some of you. Certainly, there's enough
gross-out moments in here to give you wormy nightmares for hours.
The semblance of fantastical plot gives the film, in this reviewer's
eyes, less opportunity for real gross-out moments because, crucially,
you know mermaids aren't real. He Never
Dies I find more difficult to watch, just because its brand
of gore is much more rooted in reality. But fake nasty disease eats
away at obviously fake mermaid? Gross, yes, but not stomach-churning.
That's not to say it isn't any good, or that the effects don't work,
because they do. It's just ideologically a little easier for me
to see, that's all I'm saying.
Apple Rating for this film:
Entertainment value: 6/10
Sex: strictly speaking 0/10, but this is Gorn, so 110/10
Scary bits: 0/10. No tension at all, no jump scenes. Just blood.
Gory bits: plenty, and more than enough to make those with a nervous
disposition cower under a cushion
Worms: about 55,000
Mermaids: 1, and also one badly painted example.
(A huge Snowblood Apple thank you to the delightful Rhett Rushing
Films, the owners of the exclusive rights to the entire Guinea
Pig series, for kindly allowing us to use images from the films
on these pages)
Mermaid In A Manhole Wallpaper
You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600]
Wallpaper credit: Alex Apple, 2002
Snowblood Apple Filmographies:
For external links, please see either the Guinea
Pig Series page, or the central
links page, both of which have lots of lovely links for your