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That old adage, about how your life can change at any second – well, it isn’t always a positive change, no, sometimes it’s a change that makes you introspectively question those big life choices – ‘Who am I, and what have I become’? American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore has a running time of one hour, twelve minutes, and forty seconds – which comes out to 4,360 seconds – that’s 4,360 opportunities for that voice in the back of your head to kick in and start asking those big existential questions. What film could have this much power – surely this is no Le Fin Absolute du Monde, right? It’s just a movie, right? In the immortal words plastered on the Last House on the Left poster, no, not the shitty remake, I’m talking 1972, bitches, “To avoid fainting, keep repeating it’s only a movie…” Only a movie indeed…
While we are on the topic of remakes, let’s get something clear immediately, before the mumbles and groans, American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore is NOT a remake. It is its own entity, one that, yes, is heavily influenced by the Japanese Guinea Pig films and especially the second entry, Flowers of Flesh and Blood, even in title, but Bouquet has the legs to stand proudly on its own – it is a respectful homage to the good ol’ days of 1980s faux snuff that caused an uprising, right Charlie Sheen? This isn’t a re-whatever pumped out by a studio to cash in on a name, no, this is a passion product, and it shows, by one Stephen Biro, CEO of Unearthed Films, who, after some lengthy (years!) discussions finally obtained the rights to add to the highly revered canon. So, does it deliver, and more importantly, does it deserve to wear the name Guinea Pig? If completely resetting the status-quo for faux snuff films – raising the bar so high it probably won’t be topped in the foreseeable future– earns it the right to wave the Guinea Pig flag, than give Biro and his team a fucking country to place that flag in, they have completely succeeded.
The film starts with some creep footage, you’ve been to /b, you know what I’m talking about, of two women (Ashley Lynn Caputo and Caitlyn Dailey) walking down the sidewalk – think POV of The Shape stalking Laurie Strode and her friends from the bushes. These are the tense seconds you see in nature films of a lion stalking its prey – those last few seconds of purity before the chaos, those last few precious seconds of ‘everything is alright in the world.’ Then, the hunt comes to a close, the women are quickly captured and driven away to an undisclosed location, cue title screen.
When we come back, we see multiple men grabbing masks and a table full of tools – not clean, not brand new, no, these dirty, decrepit tools makes one wonder how many times they have been used for nefarious purposes, and also thinks that said nefarious uses voids the warranties. There is an entire masked crew here filming the preparations, surely this is what Slipknot does on the weekend, as our two starlets, our helpless victims, lay on beds. After some tense preparation footage, our Baphomet-masked droog (Eigh8t the Chosen One) decides to start by cutting off his first victim’s clothing, all while being instructed, quite harshly, by another (Scott Gabbey) masked filmmaker – is this Baphomet’s first rodeo? “Always start on the left,” he is constantly told, as a multiple cameras capture the action. “Slower! I want you to make me fucking hard!” While the woman is indeed being stripped of her clothing, there is nothing sexual about it, not overtly, rather it’s the power, the control that is sexualized – this is torture-porn, damnit, not porn-porn!
Next up, Baphomet grabs a little glass vial (a little glass vial?!) of “the special medicine” and administers it orally to our helpless ladies to induce a state of being awake, but not feeling any pain – there is no screaming in Bouquet. The special medicine is revealed to be LSD25, 1500ug to be exact – for a quick science lesson, a normal dose of LSD is somewhere around 150ug, with a ‘Whoa, dude, you are going a little gung-ho on that stuff’ dose landing upwards of 300ug and up. Just for perspective, in a fucked up experiment in 1962, 297ug of LSD was given to an elephant, which killed it, putting the tentative LD50 at .06 mg/kg – but this is not science class, this is Ultra Violent, where the fuck is the red stuff?
While our helpless victim lays awake on the table, Baphomet pokes her foot multiple times with a long needle to ensure she does not scream, then the magic begins. He takes a knife to her ankle, this is just the initial cut, no need to expedite this, then the same to her wrist. Her hand is casually cut off, she wasn’t using it anyway, and placed crudely on the chest of her counterpart, almost taunting her – ‘Just wait until it’s your turn,’ it seems to implicate. Before any real damage is done to the legs, our masked maniac is ordered by the masked director to tie some tourniquets around her legs, “She needs to live as long as possible,” he states. Next up, some real damage, a saw to the ankle finishes the job the blade started, and her foot comes off with a little resistance. Now handless and footless, with her foot being casually thrown to the ground like trash, our victim, still awake, though probably on the best trip of her life, gets another saw to her leg, this time below the kneecap. As our masked friend struggles, the director is filming by the still-attached foot, slowly caressing it, in one of the most unsettling moments of the film, sometimes it’s the little things. The saw cuts through flesh and bone akin to a tough log, and off it goes. He models the foot-long foot-less part of the leg to the camera like a trophy, an Xbox achievement should pop up any second.
Let’s not neglect the other leg, now. Our masked monster takes a saw to her kneecap – which, in another science lesson, is the fourth hardest bone in the body, and it shows here. In a morbid black comedy moment, we see his struggle as he naively tries to prove he has the strength to complete this task. Earning an A for effort, he abandons the cut, and decides to move up a few inches, and holy shit does it cut like butter compared to the patella. Next up, the first of MANY money shots, a straight razor to the eyeball in a scene that gives one flashbacks of Un Chien Andalou and, more recently, Hostel – yes, this is Bouquet’s eyegasm scene, and holy shit did Marcus Koch and his team make this cringe-worthy – just look at all that fucking goo! Because that’s not enough, in what will probably become the most iconic images of the film, a hacksaw is taken to our poor woman’s mouth – aggressively sawing her open, turning her into a Pez-dispenser while her one broken eyeball flops around, dripping eyeball goo down her face, other eyeball open, seeing everything. After she looks like Kakihara in Ichi the Killer, the decision is made to disembowel her, I mean, it only seems fitting that would be the next step here. The fucked up part of this scene isn’t the disemboweling – no, it’s the fact that she is still alive, and reacting, either voluntarily or not, her tongue is writhing in her mouth as her entrails are haphazardly torn out. Perhaps Harlan Ellison said it best in his seminal story of the same title, “I have no mouth, and I must scream.”
After her intestines are all over the place, as well as other organs, the call is made to remove the tourniquets, “We are going to bleed this flower out,” the director says casually. Then, in a synchronized effort, all the tourniquets are removed, and our Pez-dispenser friend starts to leak all over her white sheets. Just to add insult to …well, multiple injuries, NOW she is sexually defiled. Imagine the shittiness of everything, then the “I finally get to die” part, then “Seriously?!” I don’t know, I would be pissy about that whole situation, maybe that’s just me.
Well, she’s dead. She can be at peace. Nah son, lets rip her chest open more and see what prizes we can grab out of her. Baphomet reaches in and grabs her now-still heart. He looks at it, inquisitively fingering the ventricle holes – like you wouldn’t, and decides to pull a Jason Goes to Hell and takes a bite of the heart, dat protein! It would appear that he has done well, as the director states “Good job, I have to change my fucking underwear!”
Well, that was intense…oh wait, we are only half done! There’s a whole ‘nother body here! I will not give a blow-by blow-by-stab-by-chop or spoil what happens in the second half – some things you just need to see for yourself, I will just say, it would make the Cenobites orgasm. It appeared that our first victim was just a warm-up, as there appears to be more hatred in round two – could it be perhaps that she was wearing a crucifix – something that is alluded to a few times in the preparations, as well as during round one with such statements as “I bet you wish you were Christian, don’t you?” being mysteriously said to our non-crucifix-wearing contestant. That’s one of the beauties of Bouquet is that there is an underlying story – this isn’t just chop chop stab, there is a tale submerged in all this blood, but often more subtly. It is through random lines said or events that happen such as one camera man flipping out saying he can’t do this anymore, then being reminded that his family is at stake – what led to this situation for him? On top of that, there are constant mentions of “the producers,” a higher position dictating that these men, monsters that they are, are just errand boys in the big picture. Could there be an entire snuff empire?
After round two, we see the editing process, even the editor wears a mask, and he is told to make sure the print goes out as soon as possible – do these fiends have a schedule to keep? That may be answered when we are introduced to round three. Sworn to secrecy, all I can say is if round three does not rustle your jimmies – upset you – in some way, you are not a human being, you are a complete and utter sociopath. Round three will go down in history as one of the most fucked up endings to any movie. It exists as a failsafe when it comes to that crucial second mentioned in the introduction – if you have not yet had that introspective second, that possibly life-changing second, round three will ensure it, you will also need to take a shower after this, it’s only too bad you can’t scrub your soul clean.
It is also worth mentioning the subtle soundtrack to this film – we are not watching the finished product, the snuff film, we are watching a behind the scenes version of it all, hence the editing process shown at the end, we have the VIP pass to this atrocity. We see cameras running out of film, 2nd and 3rd units being called upon, and VHS ordered to “shine” at the money shots. That being said, it is more natural to have a soundtrack for this, though it is more akin to ambient noise than say a James Horner-esque score. The soundtrack, composed by Jimmy Screamerclauz, director of Where the Dead go to Die, and Kristian Day, is more akin to the soundtrack of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Tetsuo: The Ironman, or even the first Silent Hill game – it’s that unsettling, sharp staccato rhythm that genuinely makes one uncomfortable, and it works perfectly in this film. They also brilliantly used those same staccato rhythms in the trailer, which adds maximum squirm value to the atrocities you are witnessing.
Bouquet of Guts and Gore is not a film one should watch for entertainment, which brushes on that whole sociopath thing mentioned earlier, but rather as a tool – this is violence, it is ugly. None of the violence in this movie is sensationalized, at least in the way that say a Saw movie would portray it, sure, the violence is the main character in this film, but at the same time, it is respected, never exaggerated or glorified – but rather shown as a character in its own element, a candid view of an animal, all seen through the un-blinking lens of a camera, with the big question asking, who are you for watching this? If you didn’t have that moment of asking yourself that, answer or not, then you are doing it wrong.