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Human Centipede (First Sequence)

tn_humancentipedeTHE HUMAN CENTIPEDE is the buzzed about “dude it’s the most fucked up ever” horror movie of the moment. I had heard it mentioned about ten thousand times but honestly managed to never see a poster, a trailer or a still from it or even really know much about its plot or origins other than the fucked up thing that happens in it. I guess there’s probly not much overlap between people who haven’t heard of this yet and people who are into crazy fucked up shit, but if you somehow manage to be in both camps I say stop reading this, cover your ears and go watch it immediately, and you will be surprised. I kind of wish I could’ve done that, but of course if I hadn’t heard about this madness I wouldn’t have made the effort to see it. It’s like that old zen coan, does crazy fucked up shit really happen in a movie if nobody ever watches it?

mp_humancentipedeBy the way, I should mention that this is not very faithful to the video game at all. There’s no mushroom or spider or anything. But I guess it’s supposed to be kind of an updated version.

The movie opens with a man parked on the side of a road fondling a strange photograph. A truck driver pulls over behind him and goes into the woods to take a shit. The first guy, a nicely dressed older gentleman, kind of an Udo Kier type, follows the truck driver and shoots him, and it cuts to the title. The scariest part of the title is the “(FIRST SEQUENCE).” The guy says it in the movie too, and I don’t know exactly what it means, but it implies they want to make a whole series of these fuckin things. Could be the new SAW or STEP UP.

I liked going into this movie not knowing much about it, because it kept me completely off balance. It takes place in a nondescript area, some trees, a couple roads, one house, could be just about anywhere, and I was surprised to find out it was supposed to be Germany. The protagonists are two American girls who don’t speak or understand German and a Japanese guy who only speaks Japanese, so nobody else knows what he’s saying (except us, using the power of subtitles). On the credits you see names like “Dieter Laser” (the star), “Tom Six” (the director) and “Holeg Spies” (music) and you wonder if these are even real names or if nobody wanted to take credit for this.

But it’s well made, shot like a real movie, and actually not very graphic at all if that’s what you’re worried about. It’s only incredibly god damn disgusting in what it makes you think about, not what it shows. I’m sure soon enough this will seem like a tame idea and there will be jokes about it on all children’s cartoons, but right now the idea of (HERE IS THE SPOILER) having your mouth sewn to some guy’s ass and forced to swallow his shit and then shit that out into somebody else’s mouth is considered a little bit, you know, unrefined. Indelicate.

The Human Centipede character is going to be a fucking phenomenon – expect dozens of ass-to-mouth-to-ass-to-mouth costumes at next year’s Comics Con. Expect a hundred cuddly stuffed critters and collectable action dolls. In fact Human Centipeding will probly become a common fun activity for youths like flash mobs, streaking or parkour.

So okay, these American tourist club girls get a flat tire and find themselves knocking on the absolute worst door looking for help. I mean really, if you think about it they very well could’ve knocked on the door of another psychotic doctor who drugs and tortures them, at least chances are in favor of the guy torturing them in some old fashioned way that’s not nearly as bad as this human centipede business. So this is just some really, really, really, really, really bad on luck on the part of these poor girls. Before the shit goes down they seem kind of stupid and whiny, like the type of characters normally associated with bad horror movies, but even though I don’t relate to them I immediately feel bad for them when they get in this situation.

In fact this is the rare horror movie where you’re feeling bad not just for the characters but also the actors for having to crawl around with a harness attached their face near somebody else’s ass. They have bandages to cover it up so I’m sure they’re not really smelling the ass, but it couldn’t have been fun, in my opinion.

I think the sickest aspect of the movie though is that it kind of makes you want to see how this whole human centipede thing is gonna work. Once the doctor has revealed his plans (in fact he draws out a diagram and explains to the victims what he’s about to do to them and how beautiful it’s gonna be) one of the girls escapes and there’s your usual slasher movie type cat and mouse chase. Normally what makes a sequence like that work is that you want to see the girl escape, you’re rooting for her. But in this movie you’re torn between “jeez, I hope she gets away” and “well, if they’re gonna make a movie about this idea they better have the balls to actually do it.” I mean don’t get me wrong, in my personal opinion this experiment has no scientific validity. But it would be kind of pointless to make a human centipede movie without a human centipede. And the movie made me feel bad for realizing that.

Don’t worry though, it’s all in fun. I mean that honestly. As much as this is based on a foul and cruel idea it’s not as far as I can tell one of those pretentious ones that thinks it’s showing the world some tough love by rubbing their nose in the ugliness. It actually has a very dry, very dark sense of humor I think. It’s not played for laughs but this guy’s particular brand of evil is so absurd that there is some humor in stumbling across it. Or at least it’s funny to see him carry an unconscious man and a rifle from the car to the house awkwardly like he’s trying to carry too many groceries at once.

I thought Dieter Laser was very good. I think I’ve heard people say he was too over-the-top evil, but I don’t agree with that. I mean yeah, maybe he’s over-the-top evil in the sense that if he was your neighbor you might say “that guy creeps me out, he seems like some Nazi doctor or something,” but you wouldn’t believe that to be literally true. He just seems like a weird unfriendly guy. He’s mostly very quiet and only very occasionally gets worked up into hysterics and evil giggling. I buy it.

The character says that he’s an expert at separating Siamese twins, so you realize he gives those DEAD RINGERS twins a run for their money in the freaky fuckin weirdo department, and that’s saying something. I wonder if they met on a separating Siamese twins chat room or convention somewhere if they would get along. I think they probly wouldn’t. They’d probly be intensely jealous of each other, be completely hypercritical of each other’s work and become bitter rivals. They’d call each other hacks, charlatans and posers.

It’s not as menacing as it probly sounds. It reminds me of something Stuart Gordon would do, although he’d probly put some gore in it. I mean, no offense to Stuart Gordon, I’m not trying to say that he would think about sewing mouths to butts. But if he did think of that, or if somebody else gave him a script about that or whatever, maybe he would’ve made a movie kind of like this. I’m sorry Stuart Gordon. I didn’t mean to implicate you in this. Never mind. Stuart Gordon had nothing to do with human centipedes. It’s not his style.

When I tell people I saw this they ask “Did you like it?,” which is a legitimate question. I’m not sure I got a legitimate answer though. I think I did kind of like it. It was interesting to watch and see what unfolded. I don’t regret it. But I would like it better if at the end they reared up like a horse and beat the shit out of him. That would be some freaky ass revenge right there.

I’m not looking forward to the second sequence unless they get a big budget from a studio and try to make it more mainstream accessible, like PHANTASM 2 or ARMY OF DARKNESS. I’m sure James LeGros would make a good centipedologist.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 30th, 2010 at 2:12 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

43 Responses to “Human Centipede (First Sequence)”

  1. I once knew a Dieter Laser, who is a pretty respected businessman in my area. So the name “Dieter Laser” is not just real, there are at least two of them!
    And btw, here is the Sock Monkey Centipede:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/08/11/sock-monkey-human-ce.html

  2. my favourite bit is the way he says the line “rape drugs”

    when people ask me what i thought of this, i say “i dont know if i like it but you should watch it”, which is probably a cop out i guess

  3. the “rape drugs” line is funny cos he says it to a guy he just slipped them to (or is it one of the chicks) and they’re like OMG IM GONNA GET RAPED, but we the audience know that this guy is an asexual creature for whom rape drugs are just another tool for making human centipedes, and Mr Laser lets all this indifference come through when he says the line, and it’s like ha ha you think you’re gonna get raped but you’re in for something way worse cos this movie aint called THE RAPIST

  4. I was pleasantly surprised by this film.

    I caught a late showing at my city’s independant/arthouse cinema 2 nights ago with my brother.

    Everyone there had a lot of fun, with much laughter had (and a number of women turning away from the screen during surgical procedures – not being sexist, that’s just what I saw). But I think by the end, pretty much everyone had been won over/desensitized enough to just roll with the film.

    What surprised me (aside from just how humorous it was) was how well made a film it was. I had heard from others who had seen the film that it was borderline unwatchable, etc… But it was well crafted, in my opinion.

  5. I liked it. And I also think it has taken a lot of crap (no pun intended) needlessly just because of its concept. People hear about the film and their minds launch into hyperbole mode just thinking about the implications. But the movie itself is quite tame, only a splatter of blood here and there (resulting from gunshots and other usual, non-centipedic sources). You can see a lot of worse and more graphic stuff just by clicking a wrong link on the Internet. And certainly films like the Saw series and Hostel are much more horrific in the gore and bodily fluids department, not to mention all the weird shit Japanese productions like Machine Girl. Human Centipede is more like Funny Games in that regard. Not that much violence is shown, but it’s the transgressions of “safe” boundaries is what makes it creepy, which I think is great. And it gets people to imagine thing much more horrible than they really are.

    A lot of the films success is also thanks to Dieter Laser. He is indeed really great as the mad scientist. He has the just the right kind of intelligence, reptilian looks and unhinged craziness to elevate the inherently pretty ridiculous core concept of stitching faces to asses.

    I’m interested to see where Second Sequence (or is it called Full Sequence, I can’t remember) takes it. I’m wondering if what makes this film work is because of actual talent from the director, or just strangle luck and coincidence – getting a guy like Laser to play the main part, and having zero budget so nothing graphic could be actually shown. If the sequel goes over the top, blows its budget into showing people shitting into other people’s mouths, then I’m calling this just a fluke. But if he manages to restrain himself and really continues to intelligently explore what makes things creepy, and continues to push people’s comfort levels without actually being really crass and exploitative about it (looking at you Saw films), then I think we might be looking the next great horror film director here.

    But for now, this is just an interesting, low budget film that has a killer, unconventional concept and isn’t afraid to go for it, the hell with what anyone says. I can’t picture Eli Roth doing a film like this.

  6. “I’m sure soon enough this will seem like a tame idea and there will be jokes about it”. Trust me, there are alot of jokes about this on the Internet. There´s even merchandising.

  7. I thought “the buzzed about “dude it’s the most fucked up ever” horror movie of the moment” was A Serbian Film. I’ve not seen either myself yet, but that’s the one that’s ignited most debate in my internet haunts.

  8. *SPOILERS*

    So I haven’t seen Human Centipede. I most likely never will. Don’t take it personally, just a personal choice. But it’s not nearly as fucked up as A Serbian Film. He put together three grown adults into the human centipede. A Serbian Film manages to fuck a newly born infant to death. Yeah, life in Serbia probably sucks for a lot of people but there are probably a few things you don’t film and put into a movie.

  9. The next sequence will involve a dozen people in the Centipede. That’s a lot of poo.
    http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/topnews.php?id=14921

  10. man, you have to wonder if the first guy can physically eat enough to sustain eleven other centipedettes. Shit would sure get weirder if the ones towards the end started to get malnourished and die off.

  11. also, I posted this in Potpourri already but I figured might as well hit the actual film —

    HUMAN CENTIPEDE director Tom Six —

    I was in the audience at the American premiere. I got all kinds of reactions. I saw people vomiting, people left the theatre because they couldn’t handle it. I had a girl who was too afraid to talk to me afterwards, she thought I was totally nuts.

    In Japan they laughed during the whole film – they couldn’t stop laughing.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-10867439

  12. My prediction to make the next one different is that the 12 people are volunteers.

  13. HT – “You can see a lot of worse and more graphic stuff just by clicking a wrong link on the Internet.” Amen to that. I still remember when fuckers would just sneak a link to Tubgirl into the most benign contexts. Goddamn Tubgirl, man.

  14. Dieter Laser is apparently back for the next one. Which has led me (and others) to speculate that he’s probably going to play a separated Siamese twin to the first doctor, which would explain why he might have gone down that type of career path and then through the subsequent mad doctor phase.

  15. I feel stupid asking this, but what’s a “coan”?

  16. I think it was just a typo on Vern’s part because he has spelled it right in the past, it’s spelled: Kōan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dan

    It’s a zen thing.

  17. despite the hype, i think this movie really holds it`s own. but not in the way i expected.
    you see the poster, you watch the trailer, and you think you`re in for some deranged, tough as nails, zero humour affair like the French film Martyrs for example. while i do consider that a great movie, this one stands on it`s own as an engaging concept, and packed with some really great (very dark) humour.

    Dieter Laser is an excellent villain for a film like this, and however the movie itself ages, i`ll hold his mad scientist character in high regards for a long time i`m sure.

    that`s about all i have to say. i like it.
    +1

  18. I agree, and I think this review nails the movie, BTW. It’s actually kind of a shrewdly brilliant move on Tom Six’s part. The concept is horrible enough to get people talking, which piques the curiosity of anyone who’s into the genre. But when you actually see the movie it’s a relatively classy affair that sticks with you because it’s so well made. If it was just some tawdry scheizer porn I don’t think any of us would be talking about it.

  19. @Gwai Lo- Tubgirl. Yeah, I googled it. Oddly benign and disgusting at the same time.

  20. And I forget what talkback I gave my opinion in but I also agree that A SERBIAN FILM is the current winner of most-fucked-up-shit-I-ever-did-see-until-the-next-one-comes-along award.

  21. brandon curtis – aww man, seriously? I do not wish Tubgirl on anyone. Why did I bring her up? DAMN YOU TUBGIRL, GET OUT OF MY LIFE

  22. Eww! Gross! Pass!

  23. I do what I can.

    BTW, I didn’t mean Tubgirl was benign. She’s as malignant as it gets. I meant that I remember a time when people would slip her into an innocuous looking link and all of a sudden you’d be staring at a chubby Asian girl in a bathtub firing explosive orange diarrhea out of her ass and into her mouth. As in, someone in an AICN talkback or something would be like “hey look, I found a picture of Nicolas Cage in the Tim Burton Superman costume!” and then BAM TUBGIRL!

  24. this shit isn’t available from netflix :( fucking fail

  25. dieselboy, it’s because it doesn’t come out til October 5th.

    You get a fail for not properly using Google to search release date. And it will be available through Netflix.

  26. Part of the thing with TG is, and I’m not endorsing it, but her shit is orange so it’s just not that gross. Also, I’d just eaten and was amazed I wasn’t more disgusted.

    Also, “Serbian Film” is fucked, bad. We couldn’t watch the bit with the newborns, we closed our eyes then after the guy chanted “newborn porn” we waited thirty seconds or so and opened our eyes. We’re pretty good at not mentioning that we’ve seen the movie, probably even pretty good at forgetting about it then somebody Tubgirls me by saying “Serbian Film.”

  27. Aw, man, I guess I’m finally going to have to see Human Centipede. I was avoiding it simply because it doesn’t live up to its title. I’m not buying any human centipede with less than 50 people on it. Centipede means 100 feet. I’m not even counting the hands, it’s got to be feet. I know he’s working up to it, but come on, you’re promising something here.

    I was actually more afraid it would just be a boring movie where nothing happens and it’s just selling the shock title and concept. Hearing it actually goes there intellectually means I’ll have to at least join the club of people who’ve seen it.

    Oh, and Stephen Colbert made a reference to it in his Emmy nomination clip. So it’s officially mainstream now.

  28. Was this one even released in cinemas? I don’t remember it being on over here, not even in the arts centre that shows limited distribution films…

  29. It sure was, Paul. I saw it at the IFC theater in Manhattan. It was kind of a weird crowd: half English professor types who wouldn’t have seen it if it was playing at any other theater, half urban youths in gigantic multicolored sneakers and their foal-like, shiny-dress-wearing girlfriends. Waiting in line, I didn’t think they’d be able to take it and was hoping it was going to be one of those experiences you hear about where people faint or run out of the theater to vomit, but the crowd actually really got into the movie. Even the English professors were laughing and squealing from beginning to end. The only one who looked like he couldn’t take it was the one other guy in the audience I pegged to be a horror fan. As for me, the part that made me wince was when the human centipede was trying to crawl up the stairs and the back segment was dragging dangerously behind. The only thing worse than getting centipeded is getting suddenly and violently UNcentipeded, if you catch my drift.

  30. Jareth Cutestory

    August 31st, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Paul: It’s also currently playing in Toronto at the Underground Cinema, which is an independent theater that shows a mix of stuff that just left the theaters but isn’t on video yet (like KICK ASS a couple of months ago), classic horror/badass (ARMY OF DARKNESS, DEATH WISH 3) and stuff the mainstream won’t touch (EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP). I like to think that most major cities have at least one theater like this.

  31. Lawrence-thnx for the heads up!

  32. Well that covers Canada and America, but not Europe. :( Can’t see any advertising for it over here, at least not anything that’s not on the Internet. Guess this one goes in my “get secondhand DVD” column.

  33. Jareth – where is The Underground Cinema in Toronto?
    i frequent Bloor Cinema, and occasionally The Fox and The Royal, but I’ve never heard of this one. do tell.

  34. oh, and it seems like every one of those theatres has been playing Exit Through the Gift Shop, and i STILL haven’t gotten my ass out to see it. :(

  35. @Paul: Can only tell for Germany. No release in cinemas as of now, but it plays during the Fantasy Filmfest in some cities,
    Dont have time to see it when it plays in Munich because I still reside here in Shenyang and dont return in time. But
    I secured tickets for Rubber. Anyone seen it?

  36. dan: Did you see that screening of REC 2 at the Bloor Theater a couple of months ago, the screening where they let the Satanists hold an exorcism before the show? That was cool.

    The Underground is actually the old Golden Classics cinema in Chinatown, just north of Queen West. They used to play kung fu movies in the 1980s. Underground Cinema re-opened the space recently with a wider range of films. Here’s the web site:

    http://www.torontoundergroundcinema.com/index.php

    When you get to the mall entrance at 186 Spadina, keep walking to the very back of the corridor, then go downstairs on the North side. They don’t make much effort to let themselves be found. It’s a nice theater, bigger than the Royal and cleaner than the Bloor.

  37. Maybe I’m old fashioned but the idea of this movie makes me feel kind of sickened, but mostly it makes me feel sad.

  38. Well, I didn’t go with it. After he’s got them sewn together, all he does is make them walk like a dog in his garden. That’s it? You go to all this trouble to do something so grand-guignolesque and your next idea is to take ’em for a fucking walk? I would have been more interested in seeing them climb up the stairs. How’d they get out of the basement, anyway, when the film clearly establishes that walking around is both nearly impossible and unbearably painful?

    I could not suspend my disbelief in three more crucial ways. Firstly, those stitches would have ripped-out at the first fart. Sorry but that’s just physics. Secondly, they could easily have killed the man at any time after they woke up from the operation. Six strong arms against two skinny legs win every time. Thirdly, there is no nutritional value to shit. The middle body would have died withint days – ditto with body #3. To say nothing of the festering infections that would have spread acorss all bodies and killed ’em in a couple of days…

    Yeah, I know, one can argue I’m looking for logic where it’s not called for but what can I say? I couldn’t take that walk with ’em. Ultimately, it had this gross-out concept and didn’t do much with it. Isn’t the next sequence supposed to be six blokes? I hope it’s not twice as long!

  39. This movie sucks ass, Vern. Literally, of course. But seriously, this is an awful, awful movie, and not because it’s oooh so trangressive and shocking. Just because it’s crap. Because the acting is crap. Laser gets a lot of mileage out of looking weird, but I never thought for the moment that there was a character there. Just a bunch of annoying mannersims. And those women were horrible. It was a relief when they couldn’t talk anymore, but I still just wanted it to end. The script is garbage. The only reason anyone does anything is so that we can have a human centipede. There’s not a recognizable human being or even just a human emotion in the movie. It probably looks a bit more expensive than it was, so credit Six, the cinematographer and production designer for that.

    I was completely grossed out by the trailer, and felt like I had to give the movie a shot, but the trailer is so much more effective. What I imagined was so much more disturbing than watching these poor (and terrible) actors flailing about for eighty minutes.

    Six had enough story and character development for a two minute trailer. The rest is filler.

  40. You nailed it, Vern. I don’t always agree with you (Phantom 2009 was 10X better than Phantom 1996), but this time, you friggin’ nailed it dude.

  41. Wait…subtitles? FUCK!

    When I watched it, there were no subtitles and I thought that that was the most brilliant aspect of the thing. It really added to the nightmarish disorientation of the situation. But, if I simply did not have the DVD set properly, then I’ll need to re-evaluate my experience. Still pretty effective and horrifying but without what I consider the film’s masterstroke. Hmm…

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