The tapes gained notoriety in Japan during the late 1980s and early 1990s when the sixth film of the series (Devil Woman Doctor) was found showcased in the 5,763 videotape collection of Japanese serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki. It was erroneously reported originally as being the second film of the series. It was widely but mistakenly believed that Miyazaki re-enacted a scene from the second film as a part of his crimes. Because of the initial controversy surrounding the series, the series went out of production in Japan. However, the entire series has since been reissued on DVD in the United States, the Netherlands, the UK, and Austria.
In 1991, the films received additional media attention when film personality Chris Gore met actor Charlie Sheen and gave him a copy. Sheen then watched Flowers of Flesh and Blood and, mistaking it for a genuine snuff film, contacted the FBI to report it. FBI agent Dan Codling informed them that the FBI and the Japanese authorities were already investigating the filmmakers, who were repeatedly interviewed by the Japanese police and eventually summoned to court to prove that the special effects were indeed fake.
Guinea Pig: Devil's Experiment (ギニーピッグ 悪魔の実験, Ginī Piggu: Akuma no Jikken, a.k.a. "Unabridged Agony") was produced in 1985 as the first film. It revolves around a group of men who kidnap and graphically torture a young woman in as many ways as possible, as part of an experiment on the human body's threshold of pain. The different forms of pain consist of hitting, kicking, slashing, burning, prying off fingernails and eye-gouging.
Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh & Blood (ギニーピッグ2 血肉の華, Ginī Piggu 2: Chiniku no Hana) was also produced and directed in 1985 by Hideshi Hino, based on his works of horror manga. The plot revolves around a man dressed as a samurai (played by Hino himself) kidnapping a woman, drugging her and taking her to his home. He then proceeds to dismember her and finally adds her body parts to an extensive collection.
In 1991 actor Charlie Sheen became convinced that Flower of Flesh & Blood depicted an actual homicide, and contacted the FBI. The Bureau initiated an investigation, but dropped it after Hino demonstrated the special effects used to simulate the murder in a film entitled The Making of Guinea Pig.
Guinea Pig 3: Shudder! The Man Who Doesn't Die (ギニーピッグ3 戦慄! 死なない男, Ginī Piggu 3: Senritsu! Shinanai otoko), the third film, produced in 1986, revolves around a bizarre scene in which a man cuts himself and is surprised when he suddenly cannot feel any pain. Curious, he cuts more and more of his body and realizes he cannot die, and invites a co-worker to his home (asking that he brings back sharp gardening utensils) to terrify him. As his co-worker is forced to watch in fright and disgust, he slices his way through his lower abdomen, then cuts out his bladder and part of his large intestine. Eventually, though off-screen, he even decapitates himself and remains as a living head on a table. The movie is more mocking than the earlier two, and involves an elaborate revenge against the girl who drove the main character to attempting suicide.
Although produced in 1986 as the fourth film, Guinea Pig 4: Devil Woman Doctor (ギニーピッグ4 ピーターの悪魔の女医さん, Ginī Piggu 4: Pītā no Akuma no Joi-san) was the sixth to be released, telling the story of a female doctor (sometimes appearing incognito as her cleaner), played by Japanese drag actor Peter. The film takes the form of several 'sketches' in which she treats her patients (often mutilating, killing or introducing them to novelty show acting careers in the process). It was directed by Hajime Tabe and this episode shifted the tone of the series from graphic horror to extremely violent slapstick comedy.
The Guinea Pig 5: Android of Notre Dame (ザ・ギニーピッグ2 ノートルダムのアンドロイド, Za Ginī Piggu 2: Nōtorudamu no Andoroido) is the fifth installment, produced in 1988, and revolves around a scientist who tries to find a cure for his sister's grave illness. The scientist needs a "guinea pig" to perform experiments on. A stranger approaches the scientist, offering of a body for the experiments, which the scientist pays for. When the experiments do not go well, the scientist becomes enraged and hacks the body to pieces. The stranger approaches the scientist again and supplies another body so the experiments can continue.
American guitarist Buckethead's album Kaleidoscalp contains a song titled "The Android of Notre Dame". Although the title is a reference to the film, the song itself is a tribute to Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who was murdered during a 2004 performance.
Based on a manga by Hideshi Hino and directed by the manga artist himself, the 6th film in 1988 The Guinea Pig 6: Mermaid in a Manhole (ザ・ギニーピッグ マンホールの中の人魚, Za Ginī Piggu: Manhōru no naka no Ningyo), about an artist who is trying to cope with the recent death of his wife. One day while visiting the sewers beneath the streets of Okinawa, he comes across a mermaid that he had once met as a child, when the sewers used to be a large river. She is now stranded, stuck in the sewers. He sits down to paint her, but soon she starts crying in agony. That is when the painter notices that she has boils growing all over her body, due to being stuck in the sewers for a long length of time and contracted infections. The artist takes her back to his home, and after a brief period of time, the mermaid develops lacerations and begins to bleed. The artist uses the blood and pus from the wounds to paint her portrait, but as he does so her condition worsens and the mermaid dies.
Making of Guinea Pig (Mêkingu obu 'Ginî piggu') is a 1986 behind-the-scenes look at the first three Guinea Pig films.
'Making of Devil Woman Doctor' (Mêkingu obu 'Ginî piggu 4') is a 1986 behind-the-scenes look at the fourth Guinea Pig film, Devil Woman Doctor.
Guinea Pig: Slaughter Special (ギニーピッグ 惨殺スペシャル, Ginī Piggu: Zansatsu Supessharu) was produced in 1988, working primarily as a "worst-of-all" special, showcasing the most gruesome moments from the first four films.
Guinea Pig's Greatest Cuts is a "best of" montage special covering all six films, produced exclusively for the 2005 Unearthed DVD boxset. It has also been re-released as a double feature DVD, packaged alongside Devil Woman Doctor.
In 2002, the now-defunct German company Devil Pictures released a region-free, limited-edition box set which collected the six feature films, the Making of Guinea Pig documentary, and the previously-unreleased Making Of Devil Woman Doctor. Each set was individually numbered (from 1 to 3000) and also contained a T-shirt and a poster depicting the box art from The Devil's Experiment. In spite of its name ("Guinea Pig - The Complete Series"), the set did not include Slaughter Special.United States
In 2005, the US company Unearthed Films released the first truly complete box set with all six features, both Making Of documentaries, Slaughter Special and Guinea Pig's Greatest Cut. The set also had many extra features, including the manga on which Mermaid In A Manhole is based on. Unearthed Films has also released the movies as double features, and included reversible cover art featuring the original Japanese covers.