A man is making snuff/tutorial videos in his basement, and in this episode he's showing the audience everything they need to know before making masterpieces out of their victims using rope.
Guy Pearce has made it pretty clear through different sources that he is a huge fan of Japanese horror, and maybe especially the torturing kind such as "Tumbling Doll of Flesh" and similar. As you know, those are extremely hit or miss for me. I don't like the above mentioned at all, I find it extremely boring, meanwhile I have a place in my heart for the "Guinea Pig" flicks due to them being where I started with this subgenre. I'll be frank and say that while I have been very curious about "The Rope Maiden" and have wanted Guy Pearce to succeed with it since he seems to be a great guy, I was always concerned about the tribute-ish approach that "The Rope Maiden" seemed to have. The saving grace here is Guy Pearce himself, as he decided to tribute more than the torture flicks of Japan, and went out of his way to make it a black comedy in a very Japanese fashion.
The short is done sort of like a found footage thing, but it's not always executed as such so I don't know if they intentionally dropped the ball there or if they figured that other parts were more important. Either way, it portrays a man's home video where he guides his audience (think of a modern Youtube tutorial, but on a found tape) in how to torture victims and scare them for maximum success. Things like how the location should look. The main focus of this "episode" is the use of rope, and how to make your own human decorations using rope.
Again, this short could have been as boring and pointless to watch as many of the flicks it pays tribute to, but due to the silly black comedy used through-out it actually entertains! The comedy comes from the poor dubbing (and syncing), the random Japanese commercial clips, the way the victim is handled and maybe most of all because it is played straight from the start, even when he is eating cookies next to his victim.
The effects are okay, it's better than some of the Japanese ones but it doesn't quite reach the very best. Because the movie is in VHS quality, it helps the effects (I'm sure German splatter directors miss the VHS days!) look more realistic. Even when they don't look that real, it doesn't matter since the movie is just a few seconds away from another silly moment. You're quick to forget about those effects then.
The main issue with "The Rope Maiden" might not be an issue at all, but to me a full-on tribute production always loses some of the flair. There is no doubt that Guy Pearce's tribute is a very accurately portrayed one and there's a lot to admire in that, but I can never shake that specific feeling. In the end, it IS a short film and it IS a start to something. I would love to see Guy Pearce adopting the core of "The Rope Maiden" and make something else that doesn't forget about the origins, but that steps further away from it. But a fact is a fact, and "The Rope Maiden" is a very well crafted tribute to one of the most popular underground subgenres - the wacky Japanese extreme films.