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4 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Human Centipede, The (First Sequence)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"A Film That Really Says A Mouthful"
1 stars

The history of the cinema has long been dotted with films promising to contain sights of such a depraved and disgusting nature that they all but dare potential viewers to sit though them without covering their eyes or losing their lunches in the process. This used to be an easier trick to pull off in the pre-Internet days when all that audience members had to go on were the lurid advertising and the whispers of information they were able to pry out of people they knew who had already seen it before buying a ticket and discovering whether the films actually delivered on their sordid promises or whether their claims were nothing but a lot of hot air but even today, films like “Irreversible,” “Hostel” and “Antichrist” have positioned themselves as deliberate affronts to good taste that taunt you to fork over your money to see what they have to offer or run the risk of somehow looking squeamish or uncool among your presumably hipper and hardier friends and colleagues. The latest film to take this particular approach is the new horror item “The Human Centipede” and how you will react to it will depend to a large degree on your previous history and tolerance to this kind of deliberate provocation. If you have somehow managed to go through your entire life without ever sitting through a film that has been designed solely to sicken you, it is entirely possible that you will find yourself staggering up the aisle to the lobby long before it ends convinced that it is the single most repellent and offensive thing ever created by theoretically human hands. (Of course, if you are such a person, the question remains as to why you would be watching a film entitled “The Human Centipede” in the first place.) However, if you are someone who is intimately familiar with this particular type of filmmaking--the kind who have already been exposed to the eyeball slitting that opened up the Luis Bunuel/Salvador Dali collaboration “Un Chien Andalou,” the tongue being ripped out of the screaming mouth in Herschel Gordon Lewis’ slasher-film progenitor “Blood Feast” and Divine’s demonstration of coprophagia in “Pink Flamingoes”--it is more likely that you will find yourself staggering up the aisle to the lobby after it ends realizing that it is just another would-be shocker that fails to live up (or down) to its advanced billing.

The premise of the film is simple enough. Two American babes--Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie)--are in Germany as part of a vacation trip through Europe and while driving into the night in search of a nightclub, they wind up lost in the woods with a flat tire. After wandering around on foot for a bit, they come across an isolated villa and when they knock on the door, they are greeted--for lack of a better term--by Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), a creepy oddball who quickly drugs them with glasses of roofie-laced water that he proffers to them with all the subtlety of a hammer to the head. When the girls comes to, they find themselves shackled to gurneys in a makeshift surgery in the basement along with an unknown third man. It turns out that Dr. Heiter is a barking-mad scientist who, after decades of acclaim for his ability to successfully separate Siamese twins, has decided to switch tracks and surgically fuse three people together via their digestive tracts in order to create what he calls “a human centipede.” (Just to let you know, the film claims to be “100% Medically Accurate!”) While the two unrelated girls are a perfect (if unlikely) tissue match, the third person isn’t and he is summarily dispatched but before long, Japanese stranger Katsuo (Akihiro Kitamura) comes along and when he proves to be compatible, Dr. Heiter gets to work. Amazingly, the operation is a success and for the rest of the film, Heiter puts his creation through its paces while dodging the occasional inquiries from a couple of cops asking about all the abandoned cars in the area. Out of sensitivity to readers with weaker constitutions (not to mention Venerable Mom), I won’t go into specific details of how the centipede is put together or how it eats and removes waste except to note that if you ever find yourself in such a predicament, being the head of the chain is infinitely preferable to bringing up the rear.

To be fair, the first full shot of the centipede in action is a showstopper of sorts that will no doubt have many viewers (at least the ones that don’t bolt for the exits or the bathrooms) wondering how they did it. When writer-director Tom Six came up with the idea for this film, I have no doubt that this was the first scene that he thought of but the problem with “The Human Centipede” is that he has pretty much failed to surround that particular sequence with anything else that comes close to matching it in terms of uniqueness. His screenplay essentially combines the bio-horror of early Cronenberg, the rampant xenophobia of the “Hostel” films and the anything-for-a-gag attitude of the early John Waters films and while such an approach may demonstrate that he knows his way around the cult film section of his local video store, he fails to show any aptitude for creating a particularly distinctive one of his own. As a short film, I can see how this might have been somewhat effective but stretched to 90 minutes, it quickly grows tedious. Six does demonstrate a certain stylishness in terms of the visual storytelling but comes up all thumbs in other areas--the performances, with one exception, are pretty much abysmal (then again, the characters all lack the requisite shading needed to rise up to the level of one-dimensional) and once it deploys its big money shot at around the halfway point, the film pretty much stops dead in its tracks from then on as it doesn’t even attempt to try and top itself. After a while, I found myself less mesmerized by the increasingly less hideous sight of the degradations forced upon the human centipede and more amused by the fact that almost every shot of it is staged in such a way that the breasts of the two topless actresses are concealed from view--considering all the other things that they were willing to do for the sake of art on display here, their evident reticence in this particular area does add an inadvertently hilarious edge to the proceedings.

“The Human Centipede” is garbage pretty much from start to finish--the scariest thing about it is that Six is already planning a sequel--and even those ordinarily predisposed to this particular kind of filmmaking are unlikely to work up much enthusiasm for it unless they are the type who automatically assume that anything disgusting should automatically be considered daring and transgressive. That said, there are a couple of aspects to it that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention. For one, the performance by Dieter Laser as Dr Heiter is a singular, scenery-chewing delight that almost has to be seen to be believed--he cheerfully goes so far beyond the pale that if the late, great Klaus Kinski were still alive and saw his work, even he would be taken aback by the sheer madness on display. For another, I found myself perversely enjoying Six’s relentlessly straightforward and subtext-free approach to the story--at a time when seemingly every genre film feels the need to load itself up with tons of otherwise unnecessary exposition and backstories, his willingness to strip away all of that detail gives the film an old-fashioned B-movie feel that is kind of refreshing. Finally, as pointless and nearly unendurable low-budget grotesqueries filled with stomach-churning imagery go, it is definitely a step up from “Babies.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19555&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/07/10 01:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2009 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2009 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell who would watch this sick stupid shit not me 1 stars
1/22/13 dr.lao That sound you hear is the death throws of the last shreds of Rob Gonsalves' credibility 1 stars
9/28/11 sarai aguilar this isthe most entertaning movie i have ever seen its also nasty and shocking 4 stars
9/10/11 Captain00Kirk God help my soul, I liked it.Not great, but it's entertaining.www.youtube.com/Captain00Kirk 4 stars
5/30/11 brian There are sequels. Heaven help us, there are sequels. 2 stars
5/16/11 mr.mike Had to see it in my guise as a self-styled film critic. I was uneasy hours afterward. 4 stars
4/30/11 Josie Cotton is a goddess I should really spend more time with my sweet three-dog 4 stars
4/01/11 Lindsey absolute worst, most disgusting, sickest, horrifying movie I have ever seen in my life! 1 stars
3/12/11 karamashi Disturbingly good exploitative horror. Freshest thing to hit horror in a while. No joke. 4 stars
9/01/10 johnhancock If youre messed in the head, youve found your new favourite film. Not even shocking. tediou 1 stars
6/09/10 matt 2 hot babes sewed to my ass? Sounds good, just don't make a wind chime out of my genitals 4 stars
5/20/10 Man Out 6 Bucks Mantrid(Dieter) continues the insect war on humanity by assimilating nipple-shy yank-girls. 5 stars
5/14/10 Sugarfoot It really isn't scary or disturbing. Just tedious. 1 stars
5/02/10 karamashi A dark and nasty little shocker that keeps its cool. 4 stars
5/02/10 Apollo BIg fat stupid mess 1 stars
11/11/09 michael about as enjoyable as watching a 2 hour rape scene. Recommend. 2 stars
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  30-Apr-2010 (R)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2010


  DVD: 05-Oct-2010

Directed by
  Tom Six

Written by
  Tom Six

  Ashley C. Williams
  Dieter Laser
  Akihiro Kitamura
  Ashlynn Yennie
  Andreas Leupold

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