Ginî piggu: Manhôru no naka no ningyo – MERMAID IN A MANHOLE – The Dungeon Review!
‘Mermaid In A Manhole’ is part of the infamous ‘Guinea Pig’ series of Japanese horror films, considered to be among the goriest, and most grotesque offerings out there. There are six titles to choose from and I went with the one that seemed to be the tamest. As an added bonus I got two films for the price of one. The other title on the disc was a 39 minute horror comedy called ‘He Never Dies’. ‘Mermaid’ itself is only 63 minutes long, and that’s a good thing. It is definitely disgusting and a couple of moments were gag worthy, but it isn’t unwatchable. I realize that most people would find this film extremely repulsive, and I get that. Everyone has there line in the sand, even Goregirl! I don’t care for long scenes of rape and humiliation or animal death, but mermaids covered in tumors that squirt out worms and multi-coloured pus is just a little too far from reality to be upsetting to me. There were trailers for other films in the series that looked much harsher. Even the favorable reviews I read said that there is little, if any story to ‘Devil’s Experiment’ and ‘Flowers of Flesh and Blood’. They are quite simply an exercise in how much you can stand to look at. I love the gore, but I need more! I need a story, or comedy, or some other form of entertainment to go along with it. I’m not going to rush out to rent more ‘Guinea Pig’ films, but to my suprise, I didn’t hate ‘Mermaid’ and I actually liked ‘He Never Dies’.
A lonely painter finds inspiration in the discarded items he finds down a manhole. One day he happens upon a beautiful mermaid who became beached in the sewer after the water where she once lived dried up. The mermaid has developed tumors after living in the unhealthy enviroment. The artist decides to bring her home so he can care for her. She begs him to paint her, convincing him that it is a goal he must acheive. As the tumors begin to spread at a rapid pace, things quickly go from bad to horrific.
“There are seven different colors of pus in these tumors. You will paint me with the pus of seven colors.” Our mermaid starts out with just a few tumors on her stomach and they spread like wildfire. The tumors are extremely disgusting to look at and as they spread they get more vile with the added addition of blood, colored pus and worms. Lot’s and lot’s and lot’s of worms! The artist quite literally does paint her portrait with the seven colors of her own pus. ‘Mermaid’ was obviously made on a tight budget, and I think they pored every dollar they had into the gore. But there is a story, and the film actually comes full circle with an ending that is a twist that actually makes sense when you look back at it. The film tries to horrify but doesn’t really succeed. It will gross you out and disgust you but it isn’t suspenseful and it certainly isn’t scary. There are more than a few moments that are just dumb. One particularly gory scene of the mermaid twitching out in slow motion, spraying away like a fountain, gave me a good laugh. In addition, there is a fan behind her blowing her hair about. Those crazy sound effects they used were downright cartoonish. There are also wacky neighbors that live below the artist that just didn’t fit the rest of the film. I’m not sure whether they intended a little comic relief or it was unintentional, but in any case it didn’t work for me. There is plenty to poke at, but I can’t fail it. The mermaids tail was quite cool; very slimy and fishy. The gore is creative, and at times quite effective and the ending made up for some of its follies. What can I say? I kinda liked it. Recommended with warning.
Dungeon Rating: 3/5
Directed By: Hideshi Hino
Starring: Shigeru Saiki, Mari Somei, Masami Hisamoto, Gô Rijû and Tsuyoshi Toshishige