DVD Review: THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE [FIRST SEQUENCE]
18 – 88mins – 2009
Written by: Tom Six
Directed by: Tom Six
Starring: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura, Andreas Leupold, Peter Blackenstein, Rene de Wit, Bernd Kostrau
It's impossible to not know what to expect from a film called The Human Centipede. If the hype and controversy hadn't spoken for it, the title tells you everything you need to know – this ain't no moralising Disney fairytale. And yet, fully prepared and watching with sadistic anticipation, I still felt my stomach turning as deranged German doc Heiter (Dieter Laser) presented an acetate-aided lecture on his conjoined-creature-concept to his three drugged, bound and struggling subjects in this controversial Danish horror.
Blood aside, other than a couple of scalpel slices to a kneecap and the dissection of an arse, you don't see a great deal of gore in First Sequence. In fact, once stranded American's Lindsay (Ashley) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) are sewn ass-to-mouth, ass-to-mouth with kidnapped Japanese tourist Katsuro (Akhiro Kitamura), bandages cover up most of the scars. But it's the sheer thought of the perverse conceit which freaks you out – especially when centi-lead Katsuro can no longer hold his bowels...
Yep, there's some pitch black humour sewn into the body horror here – particularly the blatantly obviously photoshopped pic of Doctor Heiter's treasured “Three Hound” – but if you can't look beyond the revolting central idea, then you won't be in stitches (guffaw) for fear of spewing. Indeed, I felt queezy just catching glimpses of the maaaaaaaaaaaad surgeon's Siamese-themed “art”.
First time writer/director Tom Six's plot is somewhat on the lean side – as if he felt the shock of his twisted creation would carry a 90minute feature – but what The Human Centipede lacks in development it more than makes up for in tension. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, as the futility of the victim's situation never lessens and the clinically bright presentation and abundance of medical jargon lends the torture porn an uncomfortably realistic edge.
Dieter Laser is a camp delight as the psychotic genius with a god complex and far too much hospital equipment in his basement, and even though the bratty American girls are hard to take seriously as they argue in the woods at the start of the film, you have to appreciate how game the actresses are tackling a script that constantly searches for all new cinematic lows. It's a shame there is no subtext to add weight to the wackiness, but if you're looking for the ultimate chill ride, The Human Centipede is your vehicle.
In a CR@B Shell: On the one hand (or knee) The Human Centipede is an abhorrent and disagreeable controversy with a paper thin plot, but on the other it totally delivers as an uncompromising and excruciating body horror B-movie. I just don't know if I'll be able to stomach 2011's Full Sequence...