Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Title: The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Director: Tom Six
Released: 2009
Staring: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura

Plot: Dr. Heiter (Laser) was once famous for his surgical skill in separating Siamese twins, though now he has much darker designs, as he kidnaps a trio of tourists, with the intention of binding them together to realise his ultimate obsession.

Review: Ever since the buzz started with this film, there were countless bloggers eager to donate thier space to air their excitement about the release of the film, while for myself it resembled nothing more than horror once more getting lazy and resorting to sheer shock tactics than real horror to convince the movie going public to hand over their money. So finally I bothered to sit down and watch it, after spending far too much time hearing people raving on about how shocking and disgusting it was, though having now witness it for myself, I can safely say it’s more the concept rather than anything shown on the screen which raises these comments, so gore hounds are bound to find much to gripe about here, especially seeing how the majority of the original buzz seem to hint at the film being more gory than it is. Here the power of suggestion is really being more prominent, than anything resembling the extreme gore and violence Director Six had hinted at, but then Six seems to care more about coming across as much as an oddball as he can, which is no doubt all part of his intent to generate further publicity for his films, when essentially he is the same as the child who deliberately chews with their mouth open, knowing that it will generate a negative reaction. Still this hasn’t stopped the hype machine from working overtime, to raise this film way above being another forgettable horror title, especially with the production notes stating that it has been proclaimed “The most horrific film ever made” while curiously emitting who had bestowed such high praise, something questioned upon the films release by the British newspaper “The Guardian” who also brought up the claim when they interviewed Six, who responded shiftly by proclaiming that it had been given by UK tabloid “The Sun”, a claim further questioned when they also proclaimed the closest “The Sun” had some in their review was “sickest film ever?” and even that claim was followed by a question mark.

So what about the film? Well Six wastes zero time in establishing Dr. Heiter for the oddball he is, rather than go for a slow reveal of his madness, as we are minutes into the film and we have him stalking a truck driver with a tranquiliser rifle, while said driver is filmed taking a dump in the woods. This of course after instigating that the Doctor is a fan of masturbating to pictures of his supposedly beloved dogs, the extent of this love certainly could be questioned when you find out, exactly what happened to them later in the film. Still the film continues to move at this brisk pace, while certainly not doing much favour for the local tourism, seeing how one local is portrayed as a filthy pervert and it’s not long before the fiesty Lindsey (Williams) and her shy and easily lead friend Jenny (Yennie) have stumbled across the home of Dr. Heiter. Once in the home it quickly descends into what is essentially just an extended chase sequence, as Six attempts to create some drama before the realisation of the twisted fantasy of Dr. Heiter. Sadly it’s once he has his Centipede that the film runs out of steam quickly, as having blown his load on this nightmarish creation, Six now finds he has nowhere to go and with the shock of seeing three people surgically graphed ass to mouth soon wearing thin, there is a stupidly large amount of the run time devoted to Dr. Heiter attempting to train the centipede, frequently attacking the conjoined trio with a riding crop, as they struggle to adapt with the only real shock during these scenes coming from the now well documented “Feed Her” scene, but again this is heavy on the power of suggestion than anything see.

The origin of “The Human Centipede” is supposedly drawn from similar experiments carried out by the Nazi’s who reportedly had tried the same thing with dogs, but not with humans, with the closest example of these experiements being attempted on humans, being “The angel of death” Josef Mengele’s experiments in creating artificial conjoined twins. Still the Nazi link is certainly present here with fellow Centipede member Katsuro frequently branding Dr. Heiter a Nazi and while Dr. Heiter’s connections to the Nazi’s are never revealed, it is strongly hinted at by Six, which if it wasn’t due to the strong performance by Laser who helps the character rise above such a clumsy label, so that his obsession is drawn more from his aclaimed work as a surgion seperating conjoined twins and with a lesser actor could easily be written off as poor characterisation and it’s only Laser’s performance that stops the character from becoming a sheer caricature. Still if Six really wanted us to believe that Dr. Heiter is such a crazed doctor, why do we have scenes of him in his garden wearing jeans and a t-shirt? It makes even less sense when every other scenes to be about gaining the maximum amount of creepiness from this character, from the long lab coat and mirrored glasses to his obsession with keeping his home as surgically clean as possible and these random scenes take the audience out of the moment, by having them question the sudden change in style for the doctor.

With Laser busily chewing the scenery, it’s certainly a tough act for the other actors to follow, but then their performances end up being fairly limited with Katsuro’s spending the whole film cursing the doctor (quite understandably) while the girls act continually scared. I did question though why Katsuro was included in the film as if it was purely a question of having a lead character who didn’t speak English, why didn’t Six just use a German speaking character? My only conclusion I could draw, was that it was for similar reasons that Raymond Burr showed up as an American reporter in “Godzilla” (1956), which had essentially been so that it would be an easier sell to American audiences, with Katsuro’s inclusion being an attempt to do the same except for the Asian market, whom in recent years has been battling with the new wave of French shockers for who can produce the freshest shocks and certainly a key market for any new horror release.

I have no doubt that this film has it’s fans, but when you look past it’s surface shocks and the gloss of the occasionally pretty cinematography, it’s becomes a flimsy film at best and once you trim down the centipede training sequences, from their almost voyeuristic length, it also becomes a film which would struggle to make feature length. Still the shocks have bought in the bucks and with “Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence” already in production, with Six promising an even larger centipede of 12 people, it really does make me wonder were he expects to take the film, outside of just going over the same ground he covered in the first film. Still if Six can manage to put as much effort into his film making as he does trying to convince us all of his oddball behaviour he might still surprise us as a film maker, once he moves onto less grotesque projects whose only aim is to clearly offend, disgust and shock, rather than create anything resembling true horror.


  1. I too was curious if it would hold up against the hype. No. Not a fan.

  2. He's already trying to build similar hype for the sequel, with the teaser trailer, which honestly works more against him than anything.


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