October 27th, 2014

GUINEA PIG (1985-89) ***

The Guinea Pig movies were always one of those series that passed me by somehow. I never got around to watching them, but always wanted to. That’s mostly because of the infamous story of Charlie Sheen watching it and thinking he’d actually witnessed a genuine snuff movie, called the cops on the filmmakers. I figured Halloween would be the perfect time to play catch-up. As a diehard gorehound, I’m definitely glad I saw it. Overall, the series is criminally uneven, but it certainly has its moments.

THE DEVIL’S EXPERIMENT (1985) ** ½

This segment revolves around a young girl being captured, tortured, and killed by a group of rowdy men. Of all the films, it comes closest to actually looking like a real snuff movie, although sharp-eyed viewers will spot the special effects and editing tricks. However, just because it feels the most like a snuff film, doesn’t necessarily make it “good”. The plus side is that like many films in the series, it’s really short (about 45 minutes) and doesn’t wear out its welcome.

FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD (1985) ** ½

Flower of Flesh and Blood is a lot like The Devil’s Experiment as they both involve a young woman being kidnapped and tortured. This one is a bit different though because there is only one guy doing the torturing. He also wears a goofy samurai helmet too. This episode is a bit more stylized than the previous entry, and that’s kind of a mixed blessing. On one hand, it plays more like a real “movie”, so it’s a bit more watchable. On the other hand, since it’s not as realistic, it’s not nearly as effective.

HE NEVER DIES (1986) ** ½

Maybe stinging from the backlash over the controversy surrounding the first two films in the series, He Never Dies is a radical departure from the previous segments. It’s a straight-up gore comedy with a suicidal guy self-mutilating himself until nothing is left. Think the dismembered hand scene in Evil Dead 2, but done even wackier, and that might give you a clue of what we’re dealing with here. Having said that, none of this is actually laugh out loud funny, and the constant intrusion of a useless narrator (who I’m assuming was only there to pad the running time) gets a bit annoying.

DEVIL DOCTOR WOMAN (1986) ****

Devil Doctor Woman is a deliriously entertaining chapter about a deranged doctor studying several people with increasingly bizarre neuroses. One family suffers from a malady that causes their heads to explode whenever they’re stressed. Another guy has a tumor on his stomach that talks, and I should point out, is much more civilized than he is. There’s also a hilarious chapter on zombie dating and an uproarious scene involving cannibal cuisine. Some of the segments aren’t quite as funny as others (like the one featuring a woman being stalked by a mess of organs), but there are enough hysterical moments here to qualify it as a cult classic.

MERMAID IN A MANHOLE (1988) ****

A widowed painter finds a mermaid in the sewer and brings her home so he can paint her portrait. She quickly becomes sickly and her body is soon covered in pus-filled sores. Man oh man, there is some nasty shit in this one. Imagine if David Cronenberg directed a remake of Splash and that should give you an idea of what to expect. The flick doesn’t just rest on disgusting gore to keep you entertained though. There are some downright disturbing and dare I say, beautiful moments here. I only wish the rest of the series had the same kind of Fairy Tale Theatre Gone Wrong feel to them.

ANDROID OF NOTRE DAME (1989) ** ½

A midget doctor with a terminally ill sister performs diabolic experiments in his lab. Some dude finds out about it and tries to blackmail him. The doctor retaliates by making him his next experiment. This tale has some cool gore effects and a Brain That Wouldn’t Die-style talking head scene. Unfortunately, it’s missing the macabre humor that the best Guinea Pig films possess, and the ending is a bit of a letdown too.

VAMP (1986) **

This shouldn’t be confused with the Grace Jones vampire flick of the same name from the same year. It’s actually a low budget shot-on-video porno (although the exterior scenes are done on film). I only watched it because I thought it was about vampires. No such luck. (The only remotely vampire-related thing that happens is when a priest does a money shot on a girl’s face and says, “Let me sprinkle you with holy water!”)

A priest wants insight on the everyday life of hookers. He tracks one down and she takes him back to her apartment where they watch one of her prostitute friends have sex with a client. Then a verbally abusive asshole in sunglasses double teams a maid with a black dude who can’t even get it up. Next, “The Prince of Perversion” shows up to get a blow job from one of his hookers while a new stud plows her ass. Ron Jeremy shows up afterwards to ball two babes on a bed. The priest steps out for a moment and comes home to find the hooker having sex with her friend with a double-edged dildo. It’s here where he finally decides to get in on the action.

Directed by “Awesome Welles”, Vamp suffers from a claustrophobic setting (it all takes place in the same apartment building) and some lousy sex scenes. The Ron Jeremy scene is the only good one in the bunch. That’s because he can actually act and the girls are pretty hot. The priest scene at the end is okay too, but the rest of the sex scenes are shabbily shot and edited.

If you’re a fan of the good old days of ‘80s porn, you might find something to enjoy. The fashion, big hair, and make-up go a long way, especially if you’re nostalgic for the era like I am. Thankfully, it’s little more than an hour long and it goes by pretty quick. Plus, it was also cool seeing the 42nd Street movie marquees advertising Dragon on Fire, A View to a Kill, Missing in Action 2 and many more.