Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kids These Days!

Check it out! This is my little brother (the tagger) and one of our cousins (the taggee).

Neu Metal and homages to cartoon chase scenes! I'm so proud.

Thomas' other posted videos include a nice little anti-capitalist mockery of toys-in-cereal (the pride just wells up), a slasher (or hammerer) series, and one of him eating glue (a bit more like what I was doing at his age). Now if I could just convince him that Dungeons and Dragons is cool . . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Devil Doctor Woman

Here we go, the final Guinea Pig movie. I wish the series was half as good as the pictures on the boxes.

Devil Doctor Woman (Peter no akuma no joi-san) 1990
Orange Video House Presents
Director: Hajime Tabe
Producer: none listed in English
Writer: Hajime Tabe
Starring: Eve, Masami Hisamoto, Nezumi Imamura
FX: none listed in English

Devil Doctor Woman starts out by finally giving me what I have wanted for the last five movies: a blood geyser! Our host for the evening introduces herself briefly as the unlicensed doc who deals with cases no other doctor will touch and then she slashes open a doll and it launches gallons of blood in the air. It was beautiful. I nearly cried.

If the movie had skipped right to the credits it would have been perfect.

What follows is a series of shorts highlighting made-up diseases treated (or mocked) by the Devil Doctor Woman (who looks like a bad Elvira impersonator). There is a family with exploding heads, a man whose body leaks smoke, a zombie, a man whose right arm is trying to kill him, living poop, and this dude whose tongue sings like a pigeon (you can imagine how challenging the special effects were for the last one), and plenty more poorly conceived excuses to spray red liquid at the camera. While I can see how fun it must have been to make, the rest of us gore nerds know which of our home movies to keep hidden in our basements!

We end with credits rolling over members of the cast and crew hitting each other with “iron pies” as their names come up on the screen. These ingenious devices are composed of a hard rubber plate covered in silver painted rubber spikes with a fake blood filled balloon “hidden” in the middle. We even got to watch one not break. Come on, guys! Where'd the cancerous mermaid go?

Do not watch Devil Doctor Woman. While the rest of the series has some artistic merit, some decent gore set pieces, or at the very least some effort put towards entertaining, this last one is a waste of an hour.

I promise I'll never ask for a blood geyser again.

Monday, July 14, 2008

He Never Dies

The box said that the two movies were a double-feature and I need something to get Mermaid in a Manhole out of my head. That was nasty! One more today (for an explanation about what the heck is actually going on please scroll down to the 7/8 post).

He Never Dies (Senritsu! Shinanai otoko) 1986
Japanese with English subtitles
Director: Masayuki Kuzumi
Producer: Satoru Ogura
Story: Noritaka Okamato
Screenplay: Masayuki Kuzumi
Starring: Masahiro Sato, Keisuke Araki, and EVE
FX: Nobuaki Koga

These guys love frame stories. He Never Dies opens with a white, English speaking doctor listing the many unknown phenomena of the world. A Japanese language translator speaks over him and the English subtitles dutifully translate back to English. The explanation ends with the introduction of this story of a man who could not die. We are asked to watch the following video and think about what we see.

Hideshi is a whiney office worker with a one-room apartment and a death wish. His work is boring, he is a failure with women, and he wants to die. When we first see him he is unable to slit his own wrists because it hurts too much. At work the next day Hideshi is contrasted with the suave and self-assured Nakamura, the womanizer of the office. Hideshi apologizes while Nakamura gets the girl.

Hideshi decides to never go to work again, but his bosses don’t notice after nearly a week and he is not fired. In desperation, he tries to kill himself again, only to discover that he can no longer feel pain, and cutting his own wrists yields only a small amount of blood. Then comes the painful realization: Hideshi is such a failure he cannot even kill himself.

Eventually Nakamura ends up at the apartment as Hideshi demonstrates his newest failing. The formerly confident Nakamura is reduced to tears and begging as his friend hacks himself up, pulls out all of his own internal organs, and eventually chops his own head off. Soon Kyouto, Nakamura’s girlfriend becomes worried about the two, goes into the apartment and is horrified by the mess, not, mind you, the gore.

This short film uses the signature Guinea Pig gore to set up odd comical situations between pretty standard characters. The acting is intentionally overblown, Hideshi has some funny echo effects added to his voice during some scenes, and Kyouto’s final reaction is to clean up the apartment as the severed head of her friend decides that maybe he is finally ready to return to work.

I loved the scene where Hidoshi looks at his own severed hand and voices disappointment in his own various failures. He Never Dies is a cute little film that doesn’t try to do much beyond mixing stock comedy characters with gallons of blood and buckets of organs. It’s funny and a little intelligent at a few points. I’d have to say it was worth the 35 minutes.

Almost finished! Tomorrow’s foray: Devil Doctor Woman. Please, no more movies with “devil” in the title . . .

Mermaid in a Manhole

The Guinea Pig folks finally got to me. Four movies into the series and I am grossed out. (For full details of the Guinea Pig movie series go on down to the 7/8 entry).

Mermaid in a Manhole (Manhoru no naka no ningyo) 1988
Japanese with English subtitles
Director: Hideshi Hino
Starring: Shigeru Saiki, Go Riju, Masami Hisamoto, Mari Somei,
Producer: Satoru Ogura
Screenplay: Hideshi Hino
FX: Nobuaki Koga

The idea behind the Guinea Pig film series is for Hideshi Hino and his palls to show of their gore skills. The fourth movie in the series demonstrates just how far they have progressed since Devil’s Experiment.

Mermaid in a Manhole starts with an artist going down into the sewers to find subjects to paint. In voice over we learn that the sewers were built in a dried up streambed. As a child the artist had played in the stream and he recalls these pleasant memories as he wades through the muck. He thinks about how he has lost much of what he loved to the sewers. During this sequence we get flashes of a dead baby in the water along with some other odd images of garbage and fish floating around. Eventually, after sketching a dead animal for a while, the artist finds a mermaid that he vaguely remembers from his childhood (no explanation given) propped up against a wall.

This mermaid has some horrible tumors on her stomach, so the artist decides to take her home to take care of her and eventually paint her. As the movie progresses, the tumors get worse and worse. The entire middle and most of the end is comprised of the mermaid thrashing around squirting bodily fluids and worms (?!) onto the floor. There is a cool little segment where the mermaid realizes that the fluids from her tumors are different colors and that the artist should use them to paint her. The artist is torn between the desire to try to heal and the desire to immortalize her through painting. As her tumors spread, he must constantly paint over his masterpiece, to show her deteriorating condition. Themes of beauty being replaced by disease abound.

Nosey neighbors pop in and out of the movie to add some tension to the artist’s already disgusting predicament. They become increasingly suspicious of the fish in his garbage and the fact that he rarely leaves his house.

Eventually the mermaid is covered almost completely with tumors and begins to beg the artist to finish painting before she dies. The movie ends with a bit of a twist and some really horrendous scenes of gore.

It’s been a while since a movie actually grossed me out. I think the Guinea Pig folks finally hit on a successful experiment. Mermaid in a Manhole is disgusting! I can’t say it strongly enough. They forgo trying to make the gore look real and go straight for exaggeration. This mermaid oozes paint, blood, worms, and just about anything else you could think of. The lighting of the shots gets redder and redder and the set becomes cluttered with garbage and offal. The scenes of the mermaid’s death provide a truly horrid climax to some seriously artful nastiness. I don’t ever want to see a fish again.

This one is good (in a one-of-the-most-filthy-and-disgusting-things-I’ve-ever-seen kind of way).

Next up: He Never Dies. They made a gore comedy. I’m not sure if I support this or not.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Flower of Flesh and Blood

Oh, boy another torture film! So this time the director of Devil’s Experiment has a crazy fan who recreated the first of the Guinea Pig movies with another woman but I guess he was too cheap to use special effects and actually tortured and killed her (must have been a hell of a lot cheaper). The unidentified crazy person sent the 8mm snuff film to some cartoonist who decided to recreate the recreation so that the world could see how horrible people can be. I feel like I need footnotes before the opening credits start to roll.
(Check out the 7/8 post for full details of the Japanese gore fest).

Flower of Flesh and Blood (Chiniku no hana) 1985
Director: Hideshi Hino
Producer: Satoru Ogura
Screenplay: Hideshi Hino
Starring: Hiroshi Tamura and Kirara Yugao
FX: Nobuaki Koga

So we start off with the cameraman sizing up a woman in public, chasing her down and then knocking her out. The woman wakes up tied to a bed in a room with blood-splattered walls and some pretty nasty paintings. We see her captor with his back turned sharpening his knives. He is dressed like a samurai. The poor woman screams when she sees his face, not the razor or the costume. Perhaps its because he is also wearing lipstick? She hates transvestites? Lady, now is not the time for bigotry. Look at the knives!

Before getting into the hacking, our Samurai/Lipstick man drugs the woman and then explains to the camera that she will feel no pain, only ecstasy from the drugs. If she is feeling no pain, its harder to feel bad for the woman or even imagine yourself in her place. Since we can’t identify with the captive in any real way I guess this makes the movie not so much about the torture as it is about being horrified that this guy may exist (hence the frame story).

Once the action starts our hero hacks the woman up as she is lost in a drug haze. What is it about not showing people screaming? This would be so much more disturbing if the woman were awake. Come on, Guinea Pig people! Between hacking off each limb the Samurai/Lipstick man goes on for a bit about how the woman is a flower and her blood is like a flower blooming. Then flowers bloom along her neck when he chops her head off. Then her eyes are jewels when he scoops them out. The lipstick and samurai costume wearing crazy guy thinks that women are flowers that wear flowers and have jewels for eyes. These flower and jewel wearing flowers need his help in order to properly bloom.


The gore here is much better than Devil’s Experiment. We’re talking at least on par with Slime City (which if you haven’t seen, you should go out and rent). All kinds of still-bleeding severed limbs, open body cavities, organs, rotting corpses, limbs planted in flower pots, chickens preserved in jars, teeth, grubs. All the goods. We even get a shot of the guy smoking a cigarette after hacking the woman up.

In the end we return to the city streets, follow another woman with the camera and are reassured in running text that the cops are on the case. Well that’s a relief!

I keep seeing references to a situation in which Charlie Sheen saw this nasty little bit of film making, mistook it for snuff, and contacted the FBI. I really hope that this is an urban legend. As good as the gore looks, it still doesn’t look completely real. Also, the end titles say that the Japanese cops are on it. They got it, man. They don’t need the FBI. Freakin’ busy body!

Next up: Mermaid in a Manhole! WTF?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Android of Notre Dame

Day two of the Guinea Pig movie series came with the strangely named Android of Notre Dame (check out the 7/8 entry to see how I ended up in this mess). Listed by IMDB as the fifth Guinea Pig film and as the second in the opening credits. I’m going to try to resist spending hours seeking the reason for the two different numberings. It's not like we're dealing with Final Fantasy here.

Android of Notre Dame (Notorudamu no andoroido) 1988
Japanese with English Subtitles
Director: Kazuhito Kuramoto
Producer: Satoru Ogura
Screenplay: Kazuhito Kuramoto
Mitsuo Mutsuki
Yoshikazu Iwanami
Story: Kenji Tani
Satoru Ogura
Starring: Toshihiko Hino
Mio Takagi

This one has a plot! Or at least a premise. But, hey, it’s an improvement over yesterday’s offering.

Once upon a time there lived a little person. He was a doctor. The little person doctor had a sister who was dying because her white blood cells were killing her. The doctor needed to figure out the mystery of the missing link between humans and animals to help his sister out of her mess. To figure out this mystery he had to attach dead bodies to electrodes, bring those bodies back to life, and then get real pissed and hack the bodies into even bloodier pulps. Eventually he realizes that hearts are important organs. Then the doctor ends up in a church being kept alive by a computer. Wow.

Throughout the film we see a repetition of people dying, being brought back to life and then dying again after they or someone else realizes that their regeneration serves no real purpose. The first random dead body doesn’t work properly, the friendly neighborhood extortionist’s body (or at least his head) is only needed to lure his partner to the laboratory but he can never love her again (don’t ask), and the final dead body declares that the afterlife was more peaceful and promptly re-expires. I’m not exactly sure whether the message here is that humans shouldn’t play God (thank you Mary Shelly) or whether reanimated corpses are even grosser when you stab them to death all over again and that is cooler. Whichever it is, the twisted little doctor’s still living reanimated corpse narrates the story and is still going strong. Perhaps he is still performing his function? Maybe he’s the only one who likes to take scissors to reanimated corpses.

These Guinea Pig folks love to show us eyes being pulled out, ears getting cut off, and body cavities being ransacked. Android of Notre Dame includes some really nice slow segments of the camera exploring these crazy circuitry knots covered in blood and grossness. Most of the movie is made up of showing us every angle of various dead bodies hooked up to computers. There is very little talking, even less explanation of what the hell is going on, and the movie is better for it. We get the vague sense that the sister doesn’t actually want to be saved and a little back-story for the dead bodies. Just enough plot to excuse the gore.

Other than one weird little bit where the doctor explains to his sister that the hunchback of Notre Dame was actually an android (she nods, and seems interested out of politeness) I have no clue what the name is all about. We do hear bells at the end. Notre Dame is supposed to have bells. One time this dude wrote a book about a hunchback living in Notre Dame. Then some other dudes made movies based on the book. This is another example of a movie. Androids are cooler than hunchbacks. Never mind, it makes total sense now.

This one is good. Watch it (unless watching little people poke at dead naked women and then rip their sense organs out of their heads while cackling gleefully bothers you). We still need a “the” in the title, here. I think I see the connection between these movies.

Next up: Flower of Flesh and Blood. Any relation to that Poison song?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Guinea Pig: Devil's Experiment

The Swarthmore College Library was recently asked to order a series of Japanese gore movies (do we call them slasher movies? gore porn? what’s the buzzword these days?) for an upcoming film class. All are part of the “Guinea Pig” collection, supposedly banned in Japan and occasionally mistaken for snuff. Anna gets to catalogue movies for the library and was not psyched to see these reach her desk. She really didn’t want to even open the box for them, let alone watch enough of them to get the cataloguing information. Being the awesome wife that she is, she brought them home along with instructions on how to take down the cataloguing information. Woohoo! Japanese horror extravaganza for this nerdy teacher on summer break! I can’t wait to tell this story next year in the faculty lounge!

Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment (Za ginipiggu: Akuma no jikken) 1985
Director: Satoru Ogura
Unearthed Films (DVD credits)
JHV (DVD credits)
No production credits or notes given. No acting credits listed. An unidentified person supposedly found a video tape with this on it.

The first out of the box was The Devil’s Experiment. The rolling credits at the beginning and end set up the story of the video being made anonymously, found randomly, and then investigated by the police. This is the only narrative aspect of the movie. The rest is a 40-odd minute torture film interspersed with simple title screens that describe the next torture segment in one word. “Hit”, “Kick”, “Burn”, “Worm” (my personal favorite), and “Needle” (the climax) to name a few. I’m honestly not all that in to torture films. For me gore needs at least a cursory plot. Torture films that go for realism end up just disappointing me. I want to know why, damn it!

So I watched this video of these three dudes pretending to torture a woman who doesn’t seem to notice all that often (she’s sleeping through most of it) while eating my healthy soup and tasty sandwich lunch. Some of the makeup in Devil’s Experiment is decent. The hot-oil-on-inside-of-arm bit came with some pretty neat blistering and was followed up by a great meal-worm-dumped-onto-face-and-into-burns bit that was actually pretty gross. I was bummed when they forgot to put the burn makeup back on for later segments.

The final segment contains a few notable gore effects. Whatever they used for fake skin actually looks like skin (albeit skin stretched over a pillow, but still skin), and some of the blood-welling-up-from-wounds is pretty tight. The film’s last few minutes contain a few edits clearly made to cover up things that they couldn’t simulate (no shots of stabbing and thrashing at the same time, only stabbing up close, followed by thrashing from across the room), but that’s understandable for a homebrew movie. Sadly, the cover of the freakin’ DVD box shows what they do with the needle and then the movie ends. That’s it? I knew that was coming! Way to spoil the ending, fake snuff film marketers! Jeez!!!

I need music, editing, and blood geysers in my gore. Also, would it hurt to get actors who actually scream and thrash around a bit? Hasn’t anyone seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Screaming actors make movies scary. Especially when you have to make do on the gore. Devil’s Experiment gets a “meh” and nothing else (though it could use an article before “devil’s”. We have this word “the” in English. It’s a useful word).

Tomorrow’s lunch hour movie: Android of Notre Dame. At least the title sounds more promising!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Everyone and their moms link to this . . .

Okay, so this post is linked to from so many places it's hardly funny. So it's been months since I posted and all that I can muster is a link to someone else's post. But this stuff is golden! Orson Scott Card ranting about J. K. Rowling. He uses the phrases "shot her wad"! Brilliant! Brilliant! Pure poetry! Enjoy.

Ender could totally kick that Potter wimp's ass, anyway!

I'll post some of my own nonsense soon enough.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax, RIP

all around the world the unwashed masses share a great loss
we shuffle through our days in our black trench coats and our ties,
our glasses ever so smudged, and our hair ever so tossled
we take a moment to mourn (in our own socially awkward way)
our collective uncle.

dear gygax, i raise my guisarm (not my halberd, not my pole-ax, there
is a difference, goddamn it!) to you
the weight of your worth will be measured in gold pieces
and then converted to electrum pieces and platinum pieces to save on the zeroes

thank you for the poison usage rules
for the grand master of flowers, for thief-acrobats
and drow fur
thank you for alignment languages,
for mandatory follower attraction
and for the great lord cuthbert

because of you i will always be able to look back on kinder, less simple days
when caveliers began at level -5,
when there were more cantrips than level 9 spells
and when psionic combat took six to ten steps, three tables, four die
roles, and yet was explained in a single column at the very end of the
dmg index

may your soul live on in the happy hunting grounds
under the shade of a lessor wolf-in-sheep's-clothing plant
or perhaps in nirvana, marching with the modrons, hand in hand with
primus, the one and prime
though i may live to reach the venerable age category (and its wisdom bonus) i will always remain indebted to you

sleep well, beautiful soldier
until one of your millions of nephews gets his hand on a ring of major wishes
and brings your soul back to the prime material plane