Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in the Manhole

Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in the Manhole
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5.8/10 by 12 users

An artist finds and rescues a mermaid in a sewer. He takes her home with him and she develops sores all over her body that begin to pustulate and bleed. He uses what oozes from her sores to paint her portrait. When he can no longer handle it anymore he breaks down and dismembers her body.

Title:Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in the Manhole
Original Title:ザ・ギニーピッグ マンホールの中の人魚
Release Date:July 25, 1988
Runtime:
Genres:Foreign, Horror, Romance
Production Co.:Japan Home Video
Production Countries:Japan
Director:Hideshi Hino
Casts:, , , ,
Plot Keywords:painter, mermaid, worm, gore, blood
Alternative Titles:
  • Za ginî piggu: Manhôru no naka no ningyo - [JP]
  • Ginî piggu 5 - [JP]
  • Guinea Pig 5 - [JP]
  • Mermaid in a Manhole - [US]

Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in the Manhole Reviews

  • Gross, bizarre, ghoulish and darkly funny
    by squeezebox on 24 January 2003

    16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

    Originally part of the notorious underground video series GUINE PIG (which came to the public's attention when actor Charlie Sheen mistook an episode for an actual snuff movie), GUINEA PIG: MERMAID IN A MANHOLE is the only one to have gained a cult status outside of the series' infamy. People unfamiliar with the series need only know that it is largely made up of extremely gruesome, brutal and realistic footage of people (mostly women) being tortured, mutilated and murdered (sometimes self-inflicted). Guinea Pig 2: Flowers of Flesh and Blood (the one that sparked the Sheen controversy) is a 45 minute long video in which a woman is graphically dismembered and disemboweled. MERMAID has aspirations beyond simply grossing its viewers out (though it doesn't skimp on that), and goes more for a David Cronenberg-esque atmosphere of disease and decay, meant to disturb as much as repulse. The story involves an artist who gets his ideas from items he finds in the sewer. One day, while rooting around for inspiration, he comes across a real live mermaid. She is injured and sick, from years of living in all the filth and muck. He takes her back to his apartment and places her in his bathtub, where she slowly begins to rot. He paints her as her condition worsens. Sores appear all over her body and erupt in multi-colored pus, which he uses (at her request) to continue painting the portrait. Blood, slime and worms squirm out of her skin. She vomits worms and slime. Eventually, her intestines burst out of her body and ooze onto the floor. It's really, really gross. All through this he continues to paint her picture. Blood-drenched and nightmarishly bizarre, but with moments of dark, offbeat humor sprinkled throughout. If you have the stomach for it, and you can find it, this is an interesting little movie for fans of bizarre and/or grotesque cinema. Easily the best of the Guinea Pig series.

  • Hino gets a plot
    by xterminal on 7 July 2000

    12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

    Guinea Pig III: Mermaid in a Sewer (Hideshi Hino, 1988)

    Mermaid in a Sewer, one of the four Guinea Pig films directed by Hino, is the only one that rivals The Flower of Flesh and Blood in notoriety and popularity. Unlike its more graphic and brutal cousin, Mermaid in a Sewer (often translated as Mermaid in a Manhole, Mermaid in the Bathtub, or any other number of similar titles) actually has a plot to it. An artist (Shigeru Saiki), obviously modeled on Hino himself (Hino's style is unmistakable), draws his inspiration from things he sees and finds in his local sewer system. One day, what he finds among the muck and stench is... a mermaid (Mari Somei). Yes, a mermaid. A very attractive one at that (and one is forced to wonder what, exactly, would motivate an actress to play a part like this...). We find out, after the two have conversed a bit and he's done a preliminary sketch, that she is wounded. He takes her home (how he gets her there without anyone noticing is beyond me) and installs her in his bathtub in order to take care of her.

    You can see where this is going, I'm sure. Wound + sewer = bad, bad things.

    I'd comment on the acting, dialogue, etc. if I actually understood Japanese. Sometimes watching films in foreign languages with no subtitles is good for the soul, I guess (though anyone who happens to have a script from either 2 or 3 in English who'd be willing to send a copy my way would be remembered in my will, and not with a debt). The couple who lives downstairs from the artist (Masami Hisamoto, Tsuyoshi Toshishige) pop up every now and then to give what would seem a comic turn to the film, which only adds to the disgust and horror. If you get nightmares easily, this is not a film you ever want to see. As Joaquin Phoenix said in what was one of only a handful of lines in _8mm_ that's actually worth remembering, "there are some things you can't un-see." I could never pop this tape into the cassette player again, and certain images would remain as fresh in my mind as they are right now. It's that bad. *** 1/2

  • Strangely fascinating and extremely offputting at the same time
    by Bogey Man on 21 October 2002

    9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

    This is my 2nd writing on this film here on IMDb. Guinea Pig 4: Mermaid in a Manhole (1988 or 1991) is directed by Japanese comic book artist Hideshi Hino who has directed also the most infamous Pig, Flowers of Flesh and Blood which is the second film in the series. His artistic abilities are clearly visible in Mermaid but they are hard to notice with all that puss filled, maggot and worm crawling mayhem on screen.

    When the artist (Shigeru Saiki, who has a part in Takashi Miike's Audition (1999), too!) finds the mermaid (Mari Somei, a sweet girl, but whose motivation to act in this film is still pretty far beyond me) in the sewer, he understands the sewer used to be the place in which he played when he was a child and now the beautiful river has been turned into an ugly and filthy sewer. He also saw the mermaid as a child, and now he finds her again, severely injured, contaminated and trapped inside the death hole called sewer. The artist takes her home and starts to paint her and perhaps, take care of her, too, but the creature seems to be more interested in the painting as she wants to be painted before she dies. She has the ability to communicate with the artist without any words. What follows is terror.

    The film has some symbolism at the beginning in the sewer, and one could interpret it as a statement about humans exploiting nature and turning it all into smelly and rotten areas of society's excrement. It all is very pessimistic and also nihilistic (to say the least) and these themes are pretty usual in Japanese (underground) cinema.

    There are some great details, too, and I mean those statues and "faces" on the wall in the artist's apartment. Also the finale in its madness is pretty memorable because of what weird happens to the artist's painting. The ending is almost surreal as we don't know what actually took place for real, and it just makes the viewer feel even more amazed after this one hour terror experience.

    This film is almost as extreme as they get and as mentioned in my earlier comments, full of worms and other similar creatures coming out from the mermaid's mouth and body and the scenes are more than repulsive. Still, due to those mentioned positive points I found after second viewing, I can slightly say this isn't as nonsense and meaningless as I firstly wrote, but still, I am pretty forgiving. The actors are pretty horrible and over act all the time, but fortunately they don't manage to ruin the whole thing.

    I would definitely like to see some other work of Hino's as he hasn't done too much in the field of cinema, but I don't have any idea where to get his comic books or other works. Still, Mermaid in a Manhole is one unique film, but extremely loathsome as well.

  • Truly sickening gorefest.
    by HumanoidOfFlesh on 23 November 2003

    12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

    A painter named Hayashi(Shigeru Saiki)finds a wounded mermaid(Mari Somei)and saves her.He takes her home and puts her into his bathtub where she keeps decomposing,the spreading disease spurting blood and pus.Hideshi Hino's "Guinea Pig 4:Mermaid in the Manhole" is easily one of the most disgusting horror movies I have ever seen.The make-up effects made by Nobuaki Koga are incredibly revolting.The character of Hayashi is pretty sympathetic and the film has a mood of a very sad romance.The mermaid represents painter's wife and "all the beautiful things" he has lost,so she is bound to rot and vanish too."Mermaid in the Manhole" works as a piece of extreme art,so anyone who loves Japanese horror should give it a look.However if you're easily offended avoid this one like the plague.

  • Simultaneously Disgusting and Beautiful
    by w00f on 11 November 2003

    12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

    Wow.

    I have rarely seen a film that manages to be intensely disgusting and poetically beautiful at the same time. Despite the reputation of the Ginipiggu films, this wasn't the most intense gore I've ever seen... Fulci's "Paura nella città dei morti viventi" is more disturbing, if not more graphic, and certainly far more violent. Fulci's film doesn't come close to the visual poetry that "Mermaid" exhibits in places, nor does it delve into the places in the soul that this film did.

    Confused yet?

    The basic story of "Mermaid": a Japanese artist has a penchant for lurking in a sewer near his home. We find out that this is because a beautiful mermaid lived in the river that once flowed where the sewer now sits. While skulking in the sewer one day, he finds the mermaid. She's been living in the darkness for decades, having become stranded when the city was built. The painter visits her repeatedly, and one day notices a horrible infection beginning on her abdomen. He realizes that she's gotten this infection from being trapped in the sewer for so long, and so he takes her home to care for her and paint her.

    The mermaid is the embodiment of the painter's childhood dreams, his innocence, and his joy. The infection is the decay of his own being, his psyche itself. As the film progresses, so does the infection, slowly disfiguring the mermaid until she comes to resemble ground beef covered with tumors that ooze multi-colored pus and occasionally give rise to masses of worms. She won't die, though, until he finishes his painting of her. She does die (which is an obvious outcome from the early part of the film -- but not the *ending*), and she does so slowly, painfully, horribly, and very graphically. If the thought of a boil-covered, bleeding woman lying in a bathtub filled with her own blood (and other fluids) while vomiting up blood and worms seems unpalatable to you, do NOT watch this film. I could easily see some of the scenes inducing a reversal of peristalsis in many viewers. I've seen some intense horror flicks and some very "realistic" gore, but there were definitely some nauseating and difficult moments for me in "Mermaid".

    There's also a scene wherein the mermaid has died and we see flowing paint obscure the paintings that the artist has rendered from his childhood memories as he dismembers her body, ostensibly for disposal. If I told any more, though, I'd be giving away the ending... and that wouldn't be fair.

    If you've got the stomach for it, I would highly recommend this film. The acting is solid (the dialogue is in Japanese with English subtitles), and the production values are quite good for a straight-to-video effort. This was a top ten seller in Japan for two months when it first came out, and with good reason. In many ways, this is a really excellent film, and it balances loathing and almost Poe-like horror with a certain inner beauty. I'm not generally a big fan of Japanese horror, but I haven't seen anything else that manages such a fine balancing act.

    "Mermaid in a Manhole" is available in the US only through Unearthed Films. It's worth the effort and expense to get hold of a copy.

  • I'm sorry sir, but the fish is off.
    by BA_Harrison on 24 May 2010

    6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

    A painter takes to visiting the sewers to find inspiration for his art; there he discovers a beautiful but seriously ill mermaid who he takes home and places in a bathtub. As the mermaid's condition grows progressively worse, with tumours spreading all over her body, she implores the artist to make her the subject of his work, using the seven colours of pus from her sores as paint.

    Bodily fluids; worm vomiting; a dead foetus; graphic dismemberment: Mermaid in a Manhole certainly packs a lot of tasteless imagery into into its 63 minutes, but compared to the sadistic ultra-violence of director Hideshi Hino's earlier Guinea Pig movie, Flowers of Flesh and Blood, this one is a walk in the park: for the most part, Hino replaces realistic gore with messy, multi-coloured goop and absurd, misshapen growths that are too divorced from reality to be truly stomach churning. Even when the mermaid dies and the distraught artist maniacally chops up her body, finding a fully grown dead foetus inside her body, the fantastical nature of the story prevents matters from being too disturbing.

    That is, at least, until the film's ambiguous ending, which suggests that the mermaid never really existed and that the artist, driven insane through a sense of loss, has actually hacked up his heavily pregnant, terminally ill wife. Now that's a lot nastier than him chopping up a mythical creature, doncha think?

  • Paint me with the seven colors of my pus
    by GoregirlsDungeon on 22 September 2009

    5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

    '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. 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-colored 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 surprise, I didn't hate 'Mermaid'. "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 cartoon-ish. 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 it follies. I'm giving this one a day pass but rent it at your own risk!

  • A Treat of A Film
    by CMRKeyboadist on 28 June 2006

    6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

    This is the 4th installment in the notorious "Guinea Pig" series and if you have seen any of them you know by now what you are getting yourself into.

    Unlike "Guinea Pig 1 & 2" this movie is actually a story about an artist who has just recently lost his wife. One day he decides to go into a sewer that he used to go in when he was a child. While down there he discovers a beautiful mermaid whom he saw many years before when a child. When he discovers that the mermaid is ill he decides to take her back and take care of her. This becomes more work then he bargained for. The mermaid starts getting puss pockets all over her body which ooze multiple colors. She then asks him to make a painting of her as she is dying, which he does without question. As the movie goes on, she gets more and more diseased and the artist doesn't know what to do.

    Well... this was quite an interesting film. Not exactly what I was expecting from the series. Not to say that it was not a good movie, because I thought it was rather good. I don't know what fans of the series would think of this film but it definitely has its ultra gore moments. One scene in particular with the mermaid vomiting worms. Very gross. 8/10

  • Magical stuff, both poetic and emetic
    by t-birkhead on 5 August 2008

    8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

    I'd say that this is probably the best of the Guinea Pig movies, at least from an artistic standpoint. The folks that say this is pointless or mindless are really missing out because this is as affecting a study of a sad, lonely mind as I have ever come across, with interesting ambiguity to the events being shown, and of course, tons and tons of grue. The plot I shall not dwell upon since others here have and there isn't much to it anyway. The important thing to note is that the painters wife has left him. In light of this fact it is easy to see that the entire film represents his desperate attempts to hold on to beauty, running away from the horror of reality until he cannot escape anymore and must face up to it. More unnerving than all the pus and worms here is the prospect of reality ultimately destroying hope. Of course, its equally possible to not think about the psychological implications of this one and still enjoy it as an exercise in grim and exceptionally well done special effects. Putrefaction has never been so prolonged, detailed and grossly colorful as it appears here. I can't say I found it actually sickening since I have definitely seen more unpleasant things, but some will undoubtedly find this pretty foul. People deterred by the subject matter or by this films pedigree as part of the Guinea Pig series are really missing out though. This is a masterpiece of transgressive cinema, far more worthwhile and valuable than the rest of the series and a marvellous treat for anyone that can stomach it.

  • The beauty of grossness
    by Macholic on 24 October 2004

    3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

    *MINOR SPOILERS* Recently widowed painter spends all his time shifting through the local sewer to find motifs for his paintings. The sewer is build where the river dried up and he played at as a child, but the river's frogs and dragonflies are gone and now he is starring at dog cadavers, aborted fetuses and worms and he comes across a mermaid in the sewer, he met her as a child in the river. She stranded in the sewer when the river dried up. But the mermaid has a nasty infection, so he brings her home. She wants him to paint her and not spend time to treat her, so the infection grows worse, much, much worse! The viewer is treated to boils, pus, worms and blood. All very gross made, yet this is a very moving film as well, it is clearly the most artistic of the Guinea Pig movies, the ending is ambiguous, you have to see for yourself. This little gem of a movie is laden with atmosphere and symbolism, it has beauty midst its grossness. 8/10

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