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American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock (2016)



010 - American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock (2016)

bloodshock1b.jpg?zoom=1 - American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock (2016)Starring Dan Ellis, Barron Christian, Gene Palubicki, Maureen Pelamati, Lillian McKinney, Shiva Rodriguez

Directed by Marcus Koch

The Guinea Pig series of films made in Japan in the 80’s and 90’s are legendary. Even though they were rarely more than elaborate demonstrations of extremely realistic gore effects, they caught media attention when Charlie Sheen famously watched the second entry in the series and was convinced it was an actual snuff film. One call to the FBI and an international investigation later, the series had become synonymous with the most extreme horror available.

Unearthed Films bought the rights to the series and has released excellent editions of all seven of the original films.  Now, with the help of Indiegogo, they’re attempting to restart the series here in the States as American Guinea Pig. Their latest film, titled Bloodshock, premiered at 2016’s Texas Frightmare Weekend, and… well, it’s a disappointment.

Like the original Guinea Pig films, there’s a bare bones plot to set up the vignettes of violence and gore.  In Bloodshock a man is delivered to an asylum of some sort where he’s repeatedly tortured by a doctor who is apparently trying to harvest his blood as some kind of drug, getting off on the endorphins emitted during extreme pain.  As wacky and medically inaccurate as that is, we’re not watching a Guinea Pig film for plot structure.

That’s where Bloodshock goes wrong, however.  Filmmaker Marcus Koch seems to forget what made the Guinea Pig movies what they were: extremely realistic and over-the-top gore effects demonstrations.  Too much time is spent on building the relationship between the nameless male victim and his similarly nameless female neighbor passing notes between cells.  The film is nearly entirely in black and white, which is a terrible choice for a gore film.  Koch said in a post-screening Q&A that he thought it gave the film a unique look, but again, this isn’t any ordinary film.  It’s meant to be a Guinea Pig film, which only exist to let the grue flow in the most realistic and graphic way possible  Draining the color out kills the detail to the FX and the impact of the red stuff.

The biggest misstep, however, is the critical one: The torture is boring.  Guinea Pig films escalate in gore and violence until some massive, final crescendo.  We get the climax here, literally and figuratively; and while it’s the one part of the film presented in color, it’s not even really, truly gory.  There’s blood, sure, but that’s not the focus of the scene.  The torture leading up to it is repetitive.  Most scenes revolve around sawing or breaking bones.  After the third or fourth bone is exposed and sawed through, the audience isn’t cringing; we’re hoping we can move on to the next scene that might offer something new. That’s an unforgivable sin in a Guinea Pig film, where each scene should escalate from the previous in a ballet of the most gruesome gore imaginable.

By the time the film ended at Frightmare, at least two people were audibly snoring. That’s just not a good sign.

Without the label of Guinea Pig, Bloodshock would be a relatively harmless movie that’s very light on plot and heavy on torture porn with an odd and surreal climax. But if you’re going to slap a title with as much baggage as Guinea Pig on the front, you’d better bring it. Bloodshock just simply isn’t gruesome or transgressive enough to come close to the heritage it hopes to continue.

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User Rating 2.77 (13 votes)





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