Blu-Ray Review: The Human Centipede (First Sequence) & (Full Sequence) – Boxset
Review by Stephanie Scaife
I have to admit that I did not relish the prospect of having to sit through a double-bill of The Human Centipede when the screeners came through my letter box. I’d seen the first film at FrightFest in 2009 and hadn’t been particularly impressed, and when I heard about the sequel I actively avoided it as it just didn’t seem like something I’d want to watch. Turns out I was right.
Re-watching The Human Centipede (First Sequence) I had much the same feelings about it as I did the first time: that it’s an outlandish concept that would have made a great short, but when dragged out to feature length it becomes somewhat tedious, and once you’ve gotten over the central idea it’s a fairly predictable and bog standard genre staple. We have our mad scientist, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) who has become obsessed with the idea of creating a “human centipede” by surgically joining 3 people together ass to mouth, thus creating a singular digestive system. As luck would have it 2 American tourists, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), turn up at his house one evening after their car breaks down nearby. Not one to miss an opportunity when it arises, Dr. Heiter immediately drugs the girls and confines them to the makeshift operating theatre that he has in his basement. With the addition of another hapless tourist in the form of Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura) he now has all of the pieces of his centipede in place, so he sets about attaching them together.
Obviously this is an outlandish and bravura concept that is as wince-inducing as you would imagine, but once you get past that we’re given nothing more than a standard sort of slasher film where our victims and Dr. Heiter embark on various games of cat-and-mouse around his palatial home. Predictably, it doesn’t end well for anyone involved. What worked about the first film was its pitch black sense of humour; it knew it was ridiculous and had fun with it, making it far more watchable that I’d initially thought possible. But overall the film is let down by its predictability and reliance on genre constraints. It’s worth a watch for sure, even just out of sheer curiosity, but it’s definitely not something I would consider buying and revisiting through choice.
The Human Centipede (Full Sequence) is an entirely different kettle of fish, and I found it to be exceptionally dull and tedious. It was like director Tom Six sat down and thought to himself, “what are all the most degrading and disgusting things I can think of that will offend as many people as possible?” and then proceeded to put all of these things into a film that is barely strung together into any sort of tangible plot. Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) is a vile little man who is obsessed with watching The Human Centipede (First Sequence), which he does ad nauseam, oftentimes whilst masturbating with sandpaper. Martin has become so obsessed with the film that he decides to make his very own human centipede, this time with 12 people instead of 3. This is after all a sequel, so everything has to be bigger and more extreme. So Martin, who works as a security guard in a car park, sets about capturing unwitting victims and storing them in a warehouse until he has his perfect 12. This is interspersed with scenes of Martin at home, having nightmares about being sexually abused as a child by his father whilst his vulgar mother continually threatens to kill him and herself.
As Martin is a twisted man with no medical experience, his creation of the human centipede is much messier than Dr. Heiter, providing the opportunity for some pretty disgusting things to happen, which is the sole point of this film. There really is nothing more to it; there is no real plot to speak of just a series of incidences stung together to tie up everything from child abuse to Martin raping his newly created centipede whilst his cock is wrapped in barbed wire. To me this isn’t shocking, it’s just boring. All of the humour from the first film is lost, leaving nothing to like at all. I’m not a fan of censorship, I believe that as adults we should be able to choose what we watch, but on this occasion I was glad to watch an edited version of this film. Mostly because it made it shorter.
It’s a shame really, because Tom Six always comes across so well, an enthusiastic and charismatic guy who really wants to push boundaries within the genre. It’s a problem that he doesn’t spend as much time on plot as he does on creating completely outlandish concepts. For me the highlight of this experience was a DVD extra of the Foley session, which proved fascinating. How did they create the barbed wire rape noises you may wonder? By stabbing a pig carcass. So there you go, you learn something new every day.
Released for no other reason that I can fathom other than it being Halloween, I see no reason to own special collector’s edition of these films. I honestly have no issue with films containing extreme content, but I think that ultimately they have to be more than just that. You only have to look so far as Gaspar Noé or Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs to realize that it is indeed possible, which is what I’d recommend doing instead of watching The Human Centipede.
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) & (Full Sequence) Boxset is out now on Region 2 DVD and Blu-Ray from Monster Pictures.