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Old 06-17-2005, 08:58 PM
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Guinea Pig: Devils Experiment/Android of Notre Dame




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: August 17, 2002

Released by: Unearthed Films
Release date: 6/21/2002
MSRP: $29.95
Region 1, NTSC
Full Screen 1.33:1



Human beings are not invincible. We are created in such a way that both our mind and body are vulnerable to abuse, and that is the flaw that makes horror films work. Horror films, of any kind, exploit our vulnerability to fear of abuse and violence and affect us in a personal way. When done correctly, a horror film should be able to both entertain and frighten. Enter the Guinea Pig line of Asian films; motion pictures designed to repulse with ultra-violence and gore. Both Devils Experiment and Android of Notre Dame have been placed on a single DVD by Unearthed Films, so let's take a look at these two Guinea Pig films.

Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage...

The Story

inline ImageDevils Experiment is about 3 unnamed men who, together, torture an innocent woman to the point of death. Saying anymore about the plot would be mundane, so I will use the conveniently used title cards used throughout the film to explain the nature of this torture: Hit, Kick, Claw, Unconscious, Sound, Skin, Burn, Worm, Guts, Needle. The "highlight" of this film would be when maggots are poured all over the open wounds of the tied up victim.

inline Image I enjoy films with gore and extreme violence. Movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Beyond were so effective because of these attributes. Devils Experiment (which ineptly forgets to use an apostrophe in the title) is gory and unsettling, but this is not entertainment, this is sadism. The gore and violence are merely exploited to create a repulsive and disgusting film, rather than used to tell a story. We enjoy watching the torturing in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre because we are rooting for this girl to survive the night. It may be brutal, but we know in the end, that there will be a payoff for the suffering we have had to endure. There is no such payoff in Devils Experiment. The girl is left dead and hanging at the end of the film, and that is it. There is no point in watching the film other than for sadistic pleasure.

inline ImageDevils Experiment is not artful, it is disgusting and brutal. Watching it made me disgusted in being a horror fan. When I support horror, I mention the class behind it, and how the violence is used to support the story. There is no story here, and the torture is done solely for shock effect, making this hardly a film at all. It is listed on the back that the filmmakers did not submit their names to be credited for the film, proving that there was at least some intelligence behind the film. They knew at least that the "film" they were making was so horrible that they would never be able to live it down.

inline Image Android of Notre Dame is about a dwarfed man with a dying sister. She is sick and dying, and upon seeing her in her last breaths, Dr. Karazawa vows to discover the origin of mankind, so he can keep her alive for eternity. As he works, a man by the name of Kato calls him, telling Karazawa that he knows what he is doing. Kato wants the dwarf to show him his laboratory, and wishes to extort the small man. The dwarf kills him, and uses him to understand the human anatomy. His sister is near death, and the dwarf must hurry if he wishes to be able to transfer his knowledge about eternal life onto her.

inline Image Compared to Devils Experiment this is an improvement, but so would be being raped by an elephant. The acting is poor and pretty hammy. The narrative does close with a sad but effective ending, but unfortunately the theme of the film is lost amidst the mindless gore and bloodshed. This is much gorier than Devils Experiment, but because it is used in a narrative, it is easier to accept. Bodily fluids fly left and right, and limbs are decapitated freely, and with all this bloodshed, there is little time to develop a story of any kind. It is a shame, because Android of Notre Dame had a decent premise that could have been explored deeper, but at its conclusion, it ends up being nothing more than a gore showcase disguised by a shallow plot.

Perhaps it is a blessing that both of these films have been placed on the same disc. That means one less disc that respecting horror fans need to overlook when shopping for their next horror DVD. Devils Experiment is insulting, and Android of Notre Dame is slight entertainment at best. Together though, this makes for one of the worst Double Feature discs one could possibly find.

Image Quality

inline Image Devils Experiment was shot on 1.33:1 video and sent in to a distributor, so its video quality is understandably fairly poor. There is color bleeding, and the few colors that are seen in the film, which are blood red and grass green, are washed out and unappealing. Shadow definition is extremely poor, and the blacks are weak and lack any depth. The print is fairly sharp though, considering its videotape master. Also of note is a sometimes distracting line of static fuzz that fills the very bottom of the film for almost its entirety.

Android of Notre Dame is an actual film, and therefore it does benefit from a somewhat higher production value, though it still suffers from all the problems of Devils Experiment. The print is again in 1.33:1 full frame and the colors are very drab and their lack of vibrancy is almost depressing at times. The print is cleaner than Devils Experiment though, and remains fairly sharp. Still though, this is a weak transfer overall.

Sound

Both films are presented in Japanese Dolby Digital stereo with optional English subtitles, and they sound pretty bad. Since both films are mainly visual in their expressive tactics, so the sound is basically a non-issue. Both films sound somewhat muffled and poor, but given the lack of music and dialogue, viewers shouldn't really care much.

Supplemental Material

inline Image There is not a single supplement for either film, and for the first time, I consider this a blessing. There is a static menu screen to choose between films, and one chapter selection screen for both films combined.

Final Thoughts

Both Devils Experiment and Android of Notre Dame are extremely gory films with little redeeming qualities. Android of Notre Dame at least has a narrative which makes it watchable, but Devils Experiment is so masochistic that it leaves me wondering who could actually enjoy such a movie. The audio and video transfers are pretty poor, and the supplements are non-existent. I recommend these films to no one, but if you enjoy watching this kind of slaughter then you know what to expect. But at $29.95, those interested might find a train wreck to be more enjoyable and affordable.

Rating

Devils Experiment

Movie - F
Image Quality - C-
Sound - C-

Android of Notre Dame

Movie - D
Image Quality - C
Sound - C-

Supplements - N/A

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - Devils Experiment - 43 minutes
  • Running Time - Android of Notre Dame - 52 minutes
  • Color
  • Unrated
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • Japanese Stereo
  • English subtitles
Supplements
  • N/A

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