Gotta love these Asian horrors, they pick a formula, make it their own and generally make it ten times more horrific than anyone else. Meat Grinder is no exception, yet another blasted “torture-porn” movie, but with added Oriental kick! Vicious in places, bizarre and at times highly confusing, you have to love the fact they couldn’t possibly put together a torture film without giving it some intention and back story which is often hard to follow. Meet Bus, her daughter, and her lovely little noodle bar. Bus’ husband has died and left her with a load of debts which she tells the nasty debt collector she can pay and that she does not want to lose her noodle bar. The film begins with a guy looking for his girlfriend who used to work with Bus, and he turns up at her restaurant looking for her. We soon realise that Bus is a bit mad as she cuts off his leg and throws him in the basement. She adds spices and flavourings to his wound and stuffs the same in the poor guy’s mouth, and leaves him, tied up and soaking up all the flavours.
You get the picture, Bus has realised that human meat is a big seller and she needs more of the stuff! Basically, Meat Grinder is an excuse for Thai director Tiwa Moeithaisong to put together lots of sickening violence. As I said before though, it’s all done for a reason. Bus is haunted by her daughter and is hearing voices in her head. You’re never quite sure if her daughter is alive or dead as the difference between fantasy and reality is distorted really well, so that you end up actually sympathising with Bus and, almost, agreeing with her actions. I say almost. The back story of her troubled childhood, threatening Mother, bizarre behaviours of her Dad and now this connection with her dead/alive daughter have all turned Bus into an innocent mess in desperate need of some help.
The back story, as it is so well mixed with the current, often gets a little too confusing. Characters are introduced, like a love interest and another young girl who seems intent on pissing Bus off and murdering her little girl, and if you’re not careful you will miss why they are there. I’m not saying the story moves too fast, it’s just things happen and often you are left to figure it out for yourself, which is refreshing. However, it does mean that you have to put in some effort, but added to that the viciousness of some of the violence and the fact you will quite often be left slightly disturbed and unhinged, can make concentrating slightly difficult.
So, I keep mentioning the violence, and since this is a torture-porn film, just how bad is it? Well, initially this was banned, but as far as I’m aware it has been released uncut. Bus likes to kill people, often customers, and stuff them with spices down in her basement. One poor group (not saying who they are as it will spoil the film) really get what they deserve. After enjoying a noodle dinner, Bus comes out, meat clever in hand and slices them up in a wonderfully over the top burst of pure viciousness. Blood is splattered all over the place, with Bus covered in the stuff. Throats are cut, heads chopped off, even a blasted head is smashed into a nail on the wall. It’s glorious!!! If you love the claret, then this film is for you. The tiny little noodle bar quite literally turns into a slaughter house, and it doesn’t stop there. Bus kills quite a lot. One poor chap is tortured, horribly. The nail being ripped off the finger, which has become a bit of an Asian tradition, is pushed even further here as some poor guy has every finger nailed to the floor with a hammer and nail. In extreme close-up, the nail is put on top of the finger nail, and then bashed with a hammer. If you are slightly squeamish, then this is guaranteed to make you feel rather ill!
The film is full of fantastic torture scenes, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, there is a small element of fun in its wickedness. It also boasts a hectic soundtrack, and the banging techno music is used to the best of its ability as a riot takes place outside Bus’ noodle stand. To be honest I have no idea what the protest was about, but the police were going mad and the protesters running like crazy, and Bus, the innocent by-stander, gets dragged along for the ride by some stranger. Many scenes in this film don’t make a lot of sense, but hey, sometimes things aren’t always supposed to be clear. Just enjoy the film for what it is, a thrilling, vicious, possibly too clever for its own good, engaging horror with bite and a strong story. It has violence galore, and a good, strong, believable central character that you will have no problem taking sides with. Great stuff!