Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest Movie Review: The Human Centipede II: Exactly What You Thought the First One Was Going to Be

KB: One of my most popular posts since I start Babblings, is the one from B-Sol from Vault of Horror where he reviewed The Human Centipede. This movie made major WTFckery waves because of the disturbing plot. The story is about a mad scientist who kidnaps and mutilates a trio of tourists in order to reassemble them into a new "pet"-- a human centipede, created by stitching their mouths to each others' rectums.

Since then The Human Centipede has become a sort of cult horror movie classic, even being recognized and poked fun at in South Park in an episode called HUMANCENTiPAD.

The director, Tom Six then decided to film a sequel that is more disturbing than the first. The Human Centipede II is inspired by the fictional Dr. Heiter. Martin is a mentally disturbed loner who lives with his mother in a bleak housing project. He works the night shift as a security guard in an equally grim and foreboding underground parking complex. To escape his dreary existence, Martin loses himself in the fantasy world of the cult horror film The Human Centipede (First Sequence), fetishizing the meticulous surgical skills of the gifted Dr. Heiter, whose knowledge of the human gastrointestinal system inspires Martin to attempt the unthinkable.

Over the summer, the BBFC (UK certification board) refused to grant this movie a certificate, effectively banning the movie from being shown in cinemas or DVD in the UK.

When a movie is banned, it makes you wonder how much of a WTFckery it could be. I'll admit that in recent years I've become squeamish when it comes to horror movies. I couldn't sleep in my own bedroom for a week after watching Paranormal Activity and I swear zombies will rise from the grave and take over the world ala The Walking Dead.

Since Brian's review of The Human Centipede was such a big hit, I invited him back here to watch and review the sequel. And from what I hear, The Human Centipede II is one foul and OMGWTFBBQ film.

Thanks Brian for taking one for the team so I don't have to watch and end up rocking in the corner because what has been seen, can't be unseen... 

Brian: A year and a half ago, I spoke out as a defender of a film I thought was being unfairly judged right out of the gate. That film was Tom Six’s The Human Centipede, and it was alternately being bashed by the mainstream for being too revolting, and by the hardcore horror freaks for being not revolting enough. The movie that I saw was a slick, well-made psychological horror flick being wrongly marketed as a gross-out piece of torture porn. I felt those dismissing it as too over-the-top simply hadn’t seen the picture, and was saddened by those who only seemed to be upset about not seeing enough ass-to-mouth contact.

And then The Human Centipede II came along, and Tom Six gave us exactly what we were afraid of/hoping for. In short, the sequel is everything the original was not, for better or worse. Personally, I came away very disappointed, as a franchise which began for me as a pleasant surprise quickly turned into a revolting bit of pandering to the lowest common denominator of horror fans.

To call this movie “entertainment” is really to stretch the definition of the word beyond all proportion. And while I can understand that not all films are meant to strictly entertain, that doesn’t quite exonerate this one. For example, Schindler’s List may be a harrowing experience that is far from entertaining, but at least one comes away with the sense of having experienced something important, learning something, taking something of worth away from it. Rather than, say, with this film, in which we come away wondering why we put ourselves through such an ordeal in the first place. The purpose of the film seems to be to present the most extreme and disgusting material imaginable, a goal which it most zealously achieves. Now pardon me if I don’t find that reason enough to recommend it.

Warning Spoiler...

Do you feel like curling up on the couch and watching a woman crush the head of her just-born baby as she slams down on an automobile gas pedal? Want to munch on that popcorn as someone masturbates with sandpaper? How about cuddling up with that special someone and seeing people’s lips stapled to other people’s rectums? If this is what you’re looking for, then boy, do I have the movie for you! If you fall in the category of people who might not enjoy these things, then you might want to look elsewhere for a way to pass an hour and a half.

It is well-made, to be sure, although in a totally different style from the original. David Meadows’ black and white cinematography is shocking, harshly lit and unflinchingly gritty—a far cry from Goof de Koning’s crisp, clinical full-color treatment in the first film. The decision to go with black and white is an interesting one, and certainly helps distinguish the film, adding a further layer of cold, nihilistic detachment to the already bleak subject matter.

Laurence R. Harvey is also undeniably terrific in the lead role of Martin, the mentally challenged psychopath who seeks to duplicate Dr. Heiter’s insidious operation from the original, only this time upping the ante to 12 individuals instead of three. Harvey’s Martin is a ball of childlike rage and sexual repression, whose own physical abuse at the hands of his father and emotional abuse at the hands of his mother drive him to unspeakable acts. Also interesting is the choice by writer/director Six not to have Martin speak, despite indications that he is capable of doing so. In a very different way from Dieter Laser’s Heiter, Martin makes for a very effective and deeply disturbing heavy.

Unlike Heiter, Martin possesses none of the medical knowledge or skill to pull off the unthinkable procedure of stitching his victims together mouth-to-anus, and so the “surgery” scene—the centerpiece of the film—becomes one of the most unwatchable sequences in cinema history. In fact, the movie feels like one big buildup to this moment, as we are given a rudimentary plot in which these poor folks are abducted, and then the rest of the picture is simply one long simulated snuff film in which we are made to watch this grisly procedure in detail, for seemingly no other purpose than to be utterly revolted. Well, allow me to say to Six and company, mission accomplished.

There can be no mistaking the fact that this is exactly what Six set out to do—he told me so himself when I interviewed him not long ago. The first film, in his estimation, was meant to lull the viewer, to lower their defenses for this sucker punch of a movie. According to him, this is how he planned it all along. Unfortunately, from where I sit, the first film was far superior in every way, and probably should have been left alone.

By defying expectations and giving us something of greater quality and yes, aesthetic value than we were led to anticipate, The Human Centipede became one of the standout horror flicks of the decade. And now, this sadistic and pornographic sequel has undone the artistic goodwill earned by its predecessor. I cannot in good conscience do anything but recommend you avoid it. However, knowing horror fans like I do, you probably won’t. Just don’t blame me when it’s over.

 You can also find Brian on Twitter under @b_sol

The Human Centipede II Facts: So far the movie has made $118,471 as of 10/30. The third and final movie in this trilogy is now in post-production.

From Wikipedia:
"As of August 2011, Six was already working on a sequel, to be titled The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence). Six has revealed that the film will again be very different from the previous part but will also start with its ending, so in the end the parts of the trilogy would form one continuous film about four and a half hours long, making it similar to a centipede. He also stated that the third film will answer some "lasting questions," will have a strange happy ending, and will be the last of the series as he does not want to do any more Centipede films.In an interview with, Six said the third film will "make the last one look like a Disney film. We're going to shoot the third film entirely in America, and it's going to be my favourite... It's going to upset a lot of people."

A few other Human Centipede II reviews:
NY Times
Roger Ebert

In closing, always keep your eye out for Dora centipedes crawling around:


Brie said...

Don’t judge me but to me, the most disturbing part of the review was the “masturbating with sandpaper” part? Closely followed by the baby and the gas-pedal part… You know what? That whole paragraph should come with a waning.

I agree with you, the first one was completely misjudged, I saw it more like an interesting piece of suspense with a lot of black humor, because yes it’s a disgusting idea, but I also think you’ve got to have a twisted sense of humor to come up with something like that, and also to watch it.

Also, that actor is just plain creepy, kudos to the casting people. And I don’t believe the director planned this all along, he had a clear idea of what he wanted to do with the first film, then saw how popular it was and now he’s just milking it and giving people the gore-fest they were asking for.

I’m not watching this one, though, too much for me. And what’s going on in the movie poster?

Janicu said...

Okie, I am convinced that there's no reason to watch it. But then, I'm a horror weenie.

B-Sol said...

I think the poster is meant to be a whole mass of human bodies arranged to somehow look like a centipede... Anyway, thanks to Kate for giving me the chance to review the movie here, as appalling as it was. To Brie, my apologies for the horrendous imagery there--imagine having to actually watch it! And might just be right. Maybe I'm becoming a horror weenie too lol

titania86 said...

I was actually disappointed with the first film. I was expecting a cheesy, fun, and kind of gross horror movie. I grew frustrated at the stupidity and bad decision making of all the characters the viewer is supposed to root for. I am planning to watch the second film, but I don't have high expectations.

Jenny Krueger said...

I'm a fan of B-Sol so I came over to read his review. I love The Human Centipede movies, I think they're delightful. Even though I really enjoyed the second movie it was everything I expected the first one to be.

I do have a few complaints about the movie which I'll mention in my review on my horror blog, other then that I give Tom Six two thumbs up. :)

Stephani Hecht said...

Just the concept of the movie makes my stomach roll. Then again, I think that was the director's intent.

Phantom of Pulp said...

I can't agree that the first film was misjudged as either too gross or not gross enough. I was in a third category: It bored me to tears. To me, it was a ten minute idea stretched to feature length. The performances were uniformly terrible, with the exception of the Dr., who was OK but annoying over-the-top. I liked the cinematography more on the second installment. I also review the first one here:
Thanks for your review. I always enjoy your take on these movies.

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Anonymous said...

Anything with animals is disgusting

but human centipede its a good one ;)

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