Back in the day, being sometime around the day in question, Charlie Sheen, so the story goes, was getting down and so on at some party or other, when one of his cool Hollywood accomplices suggested they check out this video he got hold of. What it is, he probably said in a sinister tone of vocals, is a video all about a woman gets fucking killed right there in front of us.
It was a snuff flick, was what this coked-up sex-fiend wanted the party to believe.
Only Charlie Sheen, though, seems to have been gullible enough.
Anyway, what happened was that the video was screened, and Sheen was so shocked and disgusted that he picked up the phone and reported this diabolical artefact to the FBI.
Probably his friends weren’t too keen on this idea.
“Fucking hell, Sheen, I’ve got coke and crack-ganja pouring out my eyes and you wanna phone the FBI? What the fuck’s up with you, anyhow?”
The FBI investigated the flick, and discovered it to be none other than Guinea Pig 2 – Flower Of Flesh And Blood, a particularly nasty number, for sure, but as artificial as the noses of most folks at that motherfucking party.
It maybe didn’t occur to them that probably authentic snuff videos don’t bother with things like P.O.V shots and so on. I imagine that if a fella might be in the process of killing somebody, he doesn’t want to have to bother with tricky editing and the like.
Anyway, it didn’t do much for Charlie Sheen’s credibility, is what I’m guessing. “Oh fuck, here comes Sheen. Don’t tell him we’re going to see Candyman, whatever you do. Next thing the fucking MI5’ll be sweeping the theatre.”
What it did do, however, was ensure that a fairly obscure Japanese straight-to-video horror series became a fairly obscure Japanese straight-to-video horror series with the added bonus of being the flick that Charlie Sheen fucked his guts up over. I gotta get me some of that, thinks various internet people.
Any the hell way.
Following the release of Flower Of Flesh And Blood, the Guinea Pig series took a more surreal approach to the delivery of puke-inducing messiness. The first two flicks, being the Sheen number and the first instalment, The Devil’s Experiment, were little more than exercises in sadism and elaborate SFX. In both, a woman is kidnapped (first by a bunch a miscreants, then by a maniac in a samurai outfit), and repeatedly tortured and mutilated for the duration of the 45 minutes or so running time.
The third flick, however, Android Of Notre Dam, was a Sci-Fi influenced number taking it’s cues from Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, dealing with a bunch of experiments on a dismembered head.
Which brings us to the fourth, Mermaid In The Manhole, being the subject of this incisive motherfucking critique.
What Mermaid In The Manhole concerns itself with, is being the story of a painter who takes his inspiration from items he finds in a stinking, maggot and worm infested sewer, a sewer that used to be an idyllic river back when he was a youngster. To this end, the first five seconds of Mermaid… are more unsettling than any number of motherfucking Cabin Fever’s.
Dig this; before the first damn credit has even hit the screen, we’re blessed with images of utmost putrefaction and decay, maggots crawling through all sorts of abandoned filth, and, especially unnerving, a dead infant lying in the stinking water.
The painter plods through it all, discovers the infant, and next thing we know he’s busy painting it in his apartment.
By which I mean painting a picture of it, and not making the actual prop blue or some shit.
To be honest, his paintings are a bit shitty. The Duke would be inclined to assume that the reason he chooses such eye-catching imagery for his dabblings is because no motherfucker in their right mind would glance upon them for a second if it was stuff like flowers or maybe a nice cathedral. What a shitty looking nice cathedral, the critics would spit. Best to fling some dead infants in there, if you want anyone to look at it without laughing themselves incontinent.
Anyhow, during one of his adventures in the shit-stream, he comes across no less an item of cryptozoology than a mermaid. Not for the first time, either, since we discover that he saw her once before, when he played here as a child. Now, of course, she doesn’t have the gorgeous river to swim around in, and so instead has to sit in this filth, a horrible infection growing ever-more disgusting on her chest.
What transpires is that the painter takes the mermaid to his apartment, keeps her in a bathtub, and proceeds to paint her portrait. However, the boils and tumours rising from the mystery infection swiftly begin to cover her entire body (although, interestingly, not her breasts), and before long all the painter can do is wait for the boils to explode and then collect the resultant puss in jars so as he can paint with it. The mermaid doesn’t want help, she just wants to see the painting completed.
What the fuck this is, is incredibly unpleasant. Worms and maggots and all manner of crawly things start crawling out of the lumps, and before long the painter’s down on his knees pulling them out of her by the handful, aided by some Looney Tunes squishy sound effects.
It’s enough to make a fella fairly nauseas. Best to wait, though, if you’re thinking about being sick, since in a second the mermaid, who by now looks lawsuit-inducingly close to The Toxic Avenger, starts puking over the edge of the bathtub, bucket-loads of worms and black spit coughed up over the floor.
What it is, is a bit like Splash, except Tom Hanks finds Daryl Hannah up to her knees in shit, sitting in a sewer alongside some dead dogs and babies, and then takes her home, Daryl Hannah rotting away whilst he pokes her with razor blades and stuff for to pop the gargantuan tumours swamping her form, but not her breasts.
“Fucking hell, Daryl Hannah, you look just like The Toxic Avenger right now. Thankfully, though, I can still see your breasts, clear as day.”
Anyway, here’s what you might not expect to uncover in a flick dealing with a mermaid pukes up worms over a bathtub. Mermaid In The Manhole is a remarkable, utterly brilliant film. However, it’s also pretty worrying, with regards these points right here;
For one, you could argue that what this is, is nothing more than an hour’s worth of a woman suffering unimaginable pain, for our viewing pleasure. I’m not gonna get into the logistics of whether this is a woman or some kind of fish-fiend (and a cannibalistic fish-fiend at that, since she seems very fond of a plateful of salmon), the fact is that she’s heavily sexualised throughout. At times, her groans and screams are worryingly orgasmic. And there’s the small matter of her breasts being on display throughout. Even when you can’t tell her eye from her nostril, you can still see her breasts, just there, sticking out of the bulbous mass.
And another; The whole endeavor is strikingly nihilistic. Everything, no matter how beautiful or divine, eventually turns to shit. Boil-riddled, maggot infested shit, is what we all end up. Whether its gorgeous rivers, or puppies we used to love, or mermaids, every damn thing ends up puking out worms in a bathtub.
These assessments, however, in so far as The Duke would assume, owe a lot to the old knee-jerk waltz.
Hideshi Hino previously directed the Sheen-troubler, so chances are these things right here was what his intentions were. But all sorts of intentions end up mangled in the fuck-glands during the process of creation.
Believe it or not, Joel Schumacher even intended some of his films to be watchable.
First of all, in so far as “emotions” and such are concerned, given that it’s barely an hour long, Mermaid In The Manhole ticks a dizzying number of boxes throughout. It’s nauseating, then it’s beautiful, it’s kinda funny, then it’s heartbreaking, it’s intelligent, then it just fills the soundtrack with daft squishes and so on, it’s thought-provoking, but it’d rather provoke your last meal to bounce the fuck out of your face. It’s laughable, and then it presents imagery for a couple seconds that is genuinely terrifying, and irrationally so. You don’t know why her hair blowing about her face in slow-motion, complete with reverb-laden moans on the soundtrack, instils genuine fear, but it does.
There’s also an irony at work, although probably unintentional. It talks about the decay of society, the transgression of beauty into filth, whilst at the same time, you could argue should you wish, it’s a product of that exact degradation.
It talks about disease, obviously, and about a fella’s inability to cope with the physical decay of someone he loves. We learn that his wife has disappeared, although we’re not sure, and that she was suffering from stomach cancer. The ending makes the metaphorical hoopla pretty clear. The painter is tipped into madness by his own grief.
If you wanna go ahead and draw parallels with The Motherfucking Cinema Of Kirsten Dunst, it’s like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind with more maggot-puke. The Painter is like Jim Carrey’s character, unable to cope with a painful development, and so regressing into his own head in order to erase all traces of it.
Or something like that. What the fuck, man, it’s a flick about a motherfucking mermaid puking worms over a tub.
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando
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