Based on a manga made by the director, "Mermaid In A Manhole" is like a sick fairy tale. The film is about a painter whose wife has left him. He spends most of his time going into the sewers to paint the things he finds there. "This is my secret place. All my lost treasures are here. All the beautiful things I have ever lost, they are here. All the time I have lost is here. Everything is hidden in the darkness."
While in the sewer, he stumbles across a mermaid. He recognises the mermaid from when he played in the area as a child, and the sewer used to be a river. He realises that he always came down into the sewer to paint because he hoped to see the mermaid again. From now on, he will only paint her.
While painting in the sewer, he notices the mermaid has a bad infection. He takes her to his home to try and heal her and to continue to paint. The mermaid's condition rapidly deteriorates, until her full chest is covered in cysts, yet she insists on being painted. The painter struggles to find the right paint to properly depict the infection on canvas, so the mermaid asks him to slice the cysts on her chest and collect the pus to use as paint.
As the infection progresses, it takes over much of her body. In one truly disgusting scene, her boils burst and worms and other insects come out of the wounds along with pus and blood. In the end, when the painting is done and the mermaid is dying, she asks the painter to finally kill her. The painter then dismembers the body.
While all this has been happening throughout the film, his neighbours have been wondering what he is up to. When the painter kills the mermaid, the blood seeps into the neighbours flat. When they go over to see what's happening, they find the painter chopping up the body. The police are called, and come to the conclusion that he killed his ex wife, believing she was a mermaid.
Out of all the "Guinea Pig" films, I found "Mermaid In A Manhole" the toughest to watch. It was quite sad to see this beautiful mermaid dying in the most horrible fashion. The scenes where she is in pain from infection, with sores spraying blood and pus is truly disgusting, especially the scenes with worms coming out of the wounds and coming out the mermaids mouth. But I really like the story, which is quite profound.
Out of all of the "Guinea Pig" films, Hideshi Hino's contributions stand out the most. The mood of his films are the darkest, and really do have the power to affect you. He definitely put the "Guinea Pig" films on the radar and is really the man to blame for the controversy surrounding the series. I would've loved for him to continue a career in film as I think he would have made his mark in Asian cinema. I would say that this is my favourite from the whole series. I'll need to seek out some of his manga to read!
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