Splatter: Naked Blood (1996) is about a young scientist who invents a new kind of painkiller. The first problem with it is that it works by turning pain into pleasure. The second problem is that he tests it on unsuspecting women undergoing a clinical trial on an experimental birth control. Things go horribly awry, and the women begin systematically mutilating themselves. One of the women enjoys food, so she deep fries her own hand and eats it. Another woman enjoys jewelry, so she adorns herself with homemade piercings made out of knives, crotchet needles, and forks. But things really take a turn for the worse when director Hisayasu Sato sabotages his own film by trying to make it an artsy David Cronenberg-style meditation on the hybrid nature of eroticism and human flesh. Or something like that. Unfortunately, in Splatter: Naked Blood, this involves one of the women having what looks like virtual reality sex with a VR goggle-wearing cactus. Words alone cannot describe the freaky strangeness of this scene. Sadly, I sent my copy of the DVD back to Netflix, so I was unable to provide a screenshot of said cactus. However, after spending literally hours sorting through images on google, I finally found a rough approximation. Another problem with the film is its long and tedious setup. We learn that the young scientist has abandonment issues, and his father committed suicide by drowning himself in the ocean, and that he’s living in his father’s shadow, and he feels alone in the world, and none of this really matters. I could always rent Bergman’s Persona if I want a film that explores the emotional wreckage of our inevitable human disconnect. What I wanted from Splatter was more splatter and less chatter. And no cacti.
Splatter doesn’t work because all of its terrific special effects and old-fashioned, stomach-churning fun is ruined when Sato tries to employ a highbrow auteur theory of film making to a genre of film that really can’t accommodate it. And this is why I highly recommend Botched (2007). Unlike Splatter, it has no pretenses of exploring the complexities or exotic corners of the human condition, but instead knows its own limitations and opts for the simple ambition of having fun. A professional thief (played by Stephen Dorff, who’s terrific in this role) is forced by a powerful crime boss to steal a religious artifact from the penthouse of a Moscow skyscraper. He’s accompanied by sidekicks who are equal parts bloodthirsty thugs and clumsy Marx brothers stooges. They manage to steal the artifact, but things go badly when the elevator gets stuck on the building’s 13th floor. They’re forced to take hostages, including an alpha-male security guard who has learned all he knows from soldier of fortune magazines, and an icy corporate vamp. Then things go from bad to bizarre when it turns out that they’ve stumbled into the lair of a pair of murderous twins, one who fashions himself after Ivan the Terrible and claims to be his descendent, and the other a crazed prioress complete with a posse of evil nuns. Ivan dispatches the unlucky hostages with deadly, blood splattering booby traps and by decapitating them with his sword in a spinning, spiraling move that looks like a combination of ballet and disco-dancing. Other scenes involve Ivan chasing his victims through the maze of corridors on the 14th floor in a mockup of a Benny Hill sketch. Reviews of the film have tended to describe it as 1/2 comedy, and 1/2 Hostel, but I don’t see the comparison to the latter. It’s a squishy, gloppy, bloody, fun mess of a film, more along the lines of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, with absurd combinations of the horror and heist genres, and with a little history, and even a love story thrown into the mix.