Gîni Piggu 2: Chiniku no Hana (Guinea Pig II: The Flower of Flesh and Blood) (Hideshi Hino, 1985)
[originally posted 7Jul2000]
Hideshi Hino is, simply, one of Japan’s finest exports. Writer, graphic artist, rabid media critic, all-around fun guy, but for as long as civilization exists he will be best remembered as the guy who drove Charlie Sheen to the FBI.
Sheen saw Guinea Pig II: The Flower of Flesh and Blood in 1991 at a party he was attending, and he was convinced that it was a true snuff film, so he took the copy and gave it to the local branch of the FBI. Large-scale investigations in both American and Japan followed, culminating ultimately in (a) the finding that GP2, like all other supposed snuff films, isn’t real, and (b) Hino exploding in popularity in the United States (it’s not a coincidence that an American graphic arts publisher started releasing Hino books in America in 1992, all of which I recommend very highly as a fantastic glimpse into the collective subconscious of post-WW2 Japan). The darker underbelly of the investigation resulted in the [ed. note 2013: temporary] banning of Guinea Pig in Japan. To date, no distributor has picked up and reprinted the films officially (though the ban has not stopped new ones from leaking out, and the series now stands at nine [seven films and two making-of documentaries]), and so when one finds copies of Guinea Pig films, they are often fourth- and fifth-generation dubs of questionable quality at best. I have my doubts as to whether even owning them in the United States is legal, but one assumes that if it weren’t, the sellers on ebay would be arrested pretty quick… but I’m relying on supposition here. (If I disappear quickly, you know why.) [ed. note 2013: the series has since been reprinted twice on DVD in box sets, once in 2002 and once in 2005.]
Yesterday I received a third-generation copy of II and IV (see the vault review on 1-3-14). GP2 is the most infamous of the series. It is also the shortest, clocking in at a scant forty-two minutes. It has no plot to speak of. A woman is abducted by a man dressed as a fourteenth-century Samurai warrior and systematically dismembered. And while, if you know the basics of film composition and realize that the cut shots could not have been done in the ways they are if this were actually being filmed in real-time, there are a few points where the best thing one can do is to sit and repeat to oneself “this is not real.” The effects are, quite simply, spectacular (within the framework of what’s going on), and I was pleasantly—if anything about this can possibly be said to be pleasant—surprised by the fact that other than the differing genders of the two players in this twisted, brutal sturm und drang (and much more drang than sturm, if you translate it literally), any sexuality involved is read into it by the viewer.
Guinea Pig 2 is not something to be enjoyed; it is something to test the boundaries of one’s endurance. How is it possible to rate such an experience? And do you really want something like this in your home? In my case the answer is an unqualified “yes,” but then, I’m depraved. Going strictly on the quality of my copy and the shattering effectiveness of the film at what it sets out to do, I’m forced to give it *** ½.
In the 1990s, it was banned. In 2014, you can see the entire film on Youtube.