THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE)
If you’re anything like me, you spend a good portion of your day pondering the idea of sewing three human beings together ass-to-mouth. Well, there’s good news my friends, because Dutch filmmaker Tom Six has taken this existential quandary and put it on glorious celluloid with THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE). The film has been making the festival rounds for the last year, churning stomachs all around the globe. This sick puppy makes HOSTEL look like ON GOLDEN POND, and has been picked up by IFC films for distribution. Expect to see it soon at your local Cineplex in IMAX 3-D. Just kidding, I wish. This will undoubtedly be a straight-to-video, limited release at best. It’s probably better that way. I don’t know if Joe Six-pack is ready for Tom Six’s “vision”.
Hopefully you’ve ascertained from that first paragraph whether or not you’re the type of person who will get a kick out of viewing THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. If so, read on. The “story” is centered on a whack job surgeon Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, a scene stealing German actor who comes off as a cross between Boris Karloff and Udo Keir with a side of Christopher Walken) who specializes in separating Siamese twins. The good doc has been retired for a while, but he’s got this problem, see -- he just can’t stop thinking about body modification surgery. The guy has got a real jones, and up until recently has been able to satisfy his obsession with his beloved “Three Dog”, three Rottweilers that he has sewn together, you guessed it, ass-to-mouth. Sadly, Three Dog is dead, and now Heiter is ready to take things to the next level by trying this process on human beings.
After a brief selection process, Evil Patch Adams settles on three subjects for his experiment. They are two annoying stranded female tourists (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) and a Japanese guy (Akihiro Kitamura) who speaks no English. I never quite understood the logic as to how these three were determined to be the perfect segments for the ‘pede, but it probably had more to do with what actors would be willing to stick their faces in each other asses than any real story concerns. Either way, when the surgical hijinx finally ensue, the actors tackle their “roles” with real aplomb. They spend the second half of the film shuffling around on all fours, heads nestled sweetly into one another’s ass cracks. The real trouper of the bunch is Williams, who after a brief escape scene is selected to be the middle segment. She’s got it coming at both ends. Good job, Ashley!
Anyway, there’s a little more story involving some boring detectives, but really who cares? You’re here to be grossed out, and in that department THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE succeeds. The gross outs are more implied than visceral (there’s a great scene where the workings of the centipede’s shared bowel tract is, shall we say, explored) and the film does a great job getting mileage out of its limited budget. A good example of this is the climactic “chase scene” which will go down as the slowest and least distance covering chase of all time. The film looks good and is shot and edited well, the rigging is top notch, the best boy second-to-none blah blah blah. What’s important is here is that THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE it is an entertaining film built around a flimsy but wonderfully gross premise.
And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Over the last decade we have seen the horror genre taken to extremes with the whole “torture porn” movement of the HOSTELs and the SAWs and their legion of imitators. There are some who would like to see things go back to a simpler time of good storytelling and legitimate suspense and scares, and you know, I’m down with all that. But horror always has to strive to push boundaries, and as I sat there watching THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, I felt a strange swelling. That swelling was pride, pride in the fact that there was one member of the human race, an artist dare I say, that was willing to take his alarming, anally fixated fantasy and put it on film for the whole world to see. The world needs more “visionaries” like Tom Six, and anyone who calls themselves a fan of cinema should stand behind this type of inspired nutjob if for no other reason than to see the beaten, horrified looks on patron’s faces as they shame-walk out of the theater, the terrible, shameful weight of what they’ve just witnessed crushing down on them with sickening finality. Six has already promised an even more disturbing sequel, and personally I can’t wait.
Screw AVATAR, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE is the real “game-changer” of 2010.