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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. Written by
Chris Mayo <email@example.com>
Strangely fascinating and extremely offputting at the same time
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.
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