02nd Jul2015

‘American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore
’ Review

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: Ashley Lynn Caputo, Caitlyn Dailey, Lilly Dickenson, Eigh8t The Chosen One, Scott Gabbey, Lucio Giovannelli, David Hood, Curse Mackey, Rogan Russell Marshall, Jim Van Bebber | Written and Directed by Stephen Biro

“Japan’s darkest secret has become America’s newest nightmare.”



AGP-BOBAG-cover

I am a massive fan of the original Guinea Pig series (ギニーピッグ Ginī Piggu). As an aspiring (yet ultimately procrastinating) filmmaker, I found the series of shockers to be crude, yet ultimately influential. I rank the series up their with the early films of Richard Kern (Thrust in Me). When I found out that we were getting an American revival of the series, I was skeptical. Then, as the Indiegogo campaign began and I started seeing names like cult director Jim Van Bebber (The Manson Family), special effects maestro Markus Koch (100 Tears) and Youtuber / acclaimed rapper Eigh8t The Chosen One attached to the project, I thought we were in more than competent hands. Not only that, but finding out Stephen Biro (Bubba the Redneck Werewolf) of Unearthed Films  – the man and the company that brought the original film series to American audiences – would be directing the first film in the new series made me more excited. As the campaign went from strength to strength and more concept art and stills were released, the hype machine was more than raging and I was more than happy to hop aboard. It’s no secret I’m rather underwhelmed with the majority of what comes out of the indie extreme horror scene, so a project like this should hopefully inspire more hope in me right? Let me strap you down and tell you!

The story is simple. A mother and her daughter get kidnapped by a small group of filmmakers who want to make a good old fashioned snuff film. That’s pretty much it in all honesty. If you have seen Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (ギニーピッグ2 血肉の華 Ginī Piggu 2: Chiniku no Hana), it’s essentially the same, but instead of a creepy samurai, we get mask wearing sadists and two bodies for the price of one. Maybe that’s a tad unfair comparing this to Flower of Flesh and Blood, but I can’t help being transported to the first time watching the brutal Japanese shocker. That being said, the whole concept and mythos of American Guinea Pig is that the films are inspired by the original series. The series will play out as a series of case files and we the audience are the INTERPOL agents investigating the films. So in that regard, it actually works as a semi rip off. This time however, the gore is ramped up to 11. Some people may be put off by some of the intentionally bad gore effects, but in context, they work alongside nicely with the genuinely nasty and grotesque set pieces. Markus Koch and his team have done a very satisfying job and gore-hounds are going to love this. There is a lovely sequence involving bolt cutters that instantly stands out. If you enjoy droning and distorted music, you are going to love the score. It really adds atmosphere. The same can’t really be said about other elements of sound. Some of the sound effects feel out of place and sometimes it feels like a rushed ADR job all round. Not only that, but expect some very clumsy and cheesy dialogue throughout. Once again, maybe those elements mentioned purposefully play in to the referencing and ‘homage’ to the original film series. I just felt that overall, the sound could have been much better.

I think what lets the film down the most, aside from questionable audio elements and unnecessary dialogue at times is the film is just too long. I think if you were to cut out about 30 minutes and neaten up the editing (which is ironic actually, considering it’s a snuff film), the film would have gone at a much better pace. I just felt that there were moments that dragged and added nothing to the film. Not only that, there are some genuinely out of place sequences, especially towards the end that almost took me out of the film.

That being said, I think American Guinea Pig was a good enough effort. Especially when you take in to account that this is the feature debut of Stephen Biro. There are more positives than negatives, but I just felt quite underwhelmed overall. When you have a series that has such a reputation and fan base, it’s always going to be a hard job as a viewer to watch a revised and contemporary take on a classic. It’s a massive undertaking for anyone to tackle a project like this and I do respect everyone involved for taking part, not only paying respects to the original series, but also introducing it to a new generation of fans. That being said, maybe the film would have worked better if it was it’s own entity?

As you can probably tell by my somewhat fractured review, I have very mixed feelings about the film. If you have seen the original Guinea Pig series, give it a go and see what you think. If you haven’t, skip this for now and watch the original series first. Has this film restored my faith in modern extreme indie horror? Not really, but we all know that’s a work in progress. It was a lot more entertaining than some of the tripe that’s being released. Am I excited for future instalments? Yes I am! I just hope that future instalments aren’t just gore heavy shock films. The original series had a range of different styles of filmmaking and dabbled in different genres. I hope that I can expect something similar with what follows. Give this one a try, it’s definitely worth a look.

American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore is available from Unearthed Films.

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