Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Trick or Treat: Human Centipede trilogy

If there is one thing you can't deny Tom Six's Human Centipede trilogy, its that his films have garnered the notoriety that he wanted for them. Most people know the premise now: a mad retired doctor decides that he wants to create a "Siamese triplet", by sewing three people arse-to-mouth. The subsequent films expand on the number of humans, with the twelve people in the sequel, and a ridiculous 500 in the third film. Renowned for being hated, Roger Ebert even refused to give it a rating, stating that the first film "occupies a world where the stars don't shine". While Richee was very reluctant to watch these films, I offered to be the poor sucker to watch all three of them, in one day no less, because its our Trick or Treat month and these are the most horrifying films I could think of to watch.


I'm sure I'm meant to be impressed by the parallels with the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, whose human experiments where horrific and real. I'm also a bit perturbed by the fact that this so called world famous doctor (played by Dieter Laser) still insists on called conjoined twins "Siamese twins". And how could he think this would work? Any doctor worth their salt would know that humans are not autocoprophagic, we do not get extra sustenance through eating our own feces. The film is moronic in its claim to be "100% medically accurate", but who can blame Six for wanting to build up hype for this type of movie. Remember, he couldn't even let his investors know exactly what the movie was about.

The initial set up for the centipede is as cliched as they come, with two American tourists (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie), unable to speak the German language, getting lost in the woods with a flat tire and going to the nearest house with a light on. They are joined by another captive, a Japanese man called Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), who is perhaps the best part of the film, ad libbing most of his lines. His final monologue, in Japanese and not understood by the doctor, adds a little bit of poetry to what is a mostly unimaginative film.

While the premise of a human centipede is indeed disgusting and completely inhumane, the film is not particularly gross, and even the famous deification scene seems to go by, completely unremarkable. However, you don't even need to see the film to know its a disgusting premise, and that is what Six does well. Despite what you may of heard about this film, it is pure exploitation, designed only to shock.



I'm quite clearly the wrong audience for this. If the protagonist is mentally handicapped, why is he allowed to operate a hand gun? How many car park attendants are allowed guns anyway, especially in the UK? How does nobody report all these people missing? Why am I watching this? Oh yeah, these films have now got notoriety. Taking on a more meta route, it turns out the first film was just a film, and this film is real life, and the mentally challenged Martin (Laurence A. Harvey) has become obsessed with the film, even creating a scrapbook of it. Needless to say he wants to create his own "centipede".

When you start watching this film, its disgusting and offensive, more so the treatment of Martin by his mother, who blames him for putting her husband, his father, away in jail, despite the father sexually abusing him. He seems to be able to attack people indiscriminately and with ease. And then you realise that this is just a terrible, terrible film. I can't even say its a parody, because that would suggest that the filmmakers where capable of understanding something other then their masturbatory ideas of what a horror film should be. This film throws every cliche at you, so much so it even becomes boring. It's like this film is playing chicken with the audience: lets see who can be the most disgusted first.

This movie plays to the lowest common denominator, and gives no fucks to the intelligence of the audience. This is a video nasty made 30 years too late. This is a William Castle gimmick that people can see right through. Where there should be wit and integrity, there are fart noises and masturbating with sandpaper. Even the ending is a cop out.



When there's nothing left to mock, you mock yourself. While the previous two films hinted at some absurd humour, this one goes full bat shit crazy, even mocking Ebert's criticisms at one point. Laser and Harvey return in yet another meta retelling, this time with Laser as a screaming manic prison warden, who likes to snack on dried clitorises, and Harvey as his poorly Southern-accented accountant. The self-referencing is out of control, as not only do they show off the previous films again, but they discuss the South Park episode and the porn parodies. Tom Six himself even pops in as himself to give approval to the prison using the human centipede idea as the ultimate prison deterrent.

Six drastically over estimates the star power of Laser. A screaming racist misogynist as your lead character, as someone who appears in nearly every scene of the film, is the worst part of this film. It is quickly grating, and any kind of effectiveness he gave as Dr. Heiter in the first film is swiftly pulled out from under your feet in this hateful role. The promise of a Hollywood actor may of been delivered, but Eric Roberts as the Governor looks like he is there because he had nothing better to do. A satire of people's views about prisoners is attempted, but to no degree does the story even take it seriously. Clayton Rohner as Dr. Jones is perhaps the most interesting character, an unlicensed doctor with conflicting attitudes towards the human centipede, but is underused.

This film so desperately wants to be a grindhouse masterpiece, a shock horror to tell your friends about. The first film may have succeeded with that, but this one has flushed any goodness out of its system. Like the prisoners in this version, it would need a healthy injection of revitalising vitamins in order to survive, but instead it is left to decay. By the end of it, this franchise ceases to be horrifying, or funny even, but just boring. This is what happens when you become complacent.


I've heard these films describe as being "genius", and usually as being abhorrent. The truth? These are just plain bad. The shocks are forced, and there is no actual attempt to make these films good. I understand that not every film has to be enjoyable, but can't I at least maybe appreciate the effort? Whatever Tom Six does next it will get attention, but please god try harder, man. And don't ever watch these films one after each other. You will just end up with a headache.

But what if this was a trick or treat piece of candy? Hell, you wouldn't even go to this house for candy. Give this house a wide berth.


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