Having been a bit of a horror fan when I was growing up, when you see a movie advertised with claims of “most horrific film ever made“, “the ultimate video nasty“, “so gross you’ll spoon out your eyeballs and feed them to the neighbours cat” (OK, I made the last one up…) you can’t help but take notice!
Being a lover of noodling on the Twitter-pipes, I noticed that Bristol’s Watershed cinema (twitter.com/wshed tweet: @wshed) ace purveyors of art house films (and from time to time, vile degrading filth) were showing The Human Centipede. On a whim I took it upon myself to draw this silly little picture and tweeted it at them. Turns out this little sketch went down so well in their office, they used it as part of their promo materials in their display cases and offered me 2 free tickets! Thanks Watershed :D (more on the significance of these x2 tix to follow…!)
With Pete Jackson’s seminal zombie splatterfest ‘Braindead‘ having long been my favourite film, which incidentally just like Tom Six‘s ‘Human Centipede’ got past the censors without a single cut, how could I possibly resist? I’ll watch it so you don’t have to! Read on to find out what happened…
The First Sequence
So, my fiance flat out refused to even discuss the film, let alone come along and watch it with me! So a good friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) decided to accompany me instead; the plan was to have a couple of drinks and watch the movie, but things didn’t quite go to plan…
I drew this picture whilst I was sitting in the waiting room of the A&E department of BRI to try and describe what I’d just been through.
Unfortunately, my poor friend managed to get something stuck in his throat on the walk down to town. I can tell you it was not a particularly pleasant journey trying to get him through Victoria Park and down to civilisation with a soundtrack of coughing, hacking, barking, hocking, gipping, snorting, gurgling, puking and a harrowing cacophony of upside down rainbow emetics. He could just about breathe but his gag reflex had gone haywire. I managed to get him to the Bedminster ASDA’s toilets where much finger/throat and back-slapping action ensued trying to dislodge what he believed to be a piece of rogue sweetcorn stuck in his windpipe from a previously bolted down tuna & sweetcorn sandwich. When things didn’t improve, we ended up in the tiny ASDA security office with a group of bemused looking staff and first aiders, before the paramedics were finally called.
I want to point out that this is not the first time that I’ve sat in the BRI with the same unlucky friend under somewhat bizarre circumstances. The staff have always been highly professional and a model of medical calm. I had a glimpse of the usual BRI friday night whilst I was waiting, listening to a rather dazed guy covered in blood wandering up and down describing how he’d been set upon and knocked senseless by a group of lads at a bar somewhere in Bedminster. But, thankfully after anaesthesia of the throat and the application of a large piece of curved surgical steel, my friend was released in enough time to hook up the friends we’d arranged to meet earlier.
The Middle Part
Aside from saving me from the clutches of an inevitably gruelling hangover by spending the first half of my evening at the BRI instead of chez Renato’s, and having witnessed first hand the grim fandango of A&E on a Friday night, I felt suitably desensitised to the worst that Tom Six has to offer.
There’s no real point in describing the plot of this film as its splashed all over the internet, but what I will do is describe the experience of sitting through it as a movie goer!
I think there were two walk outs during the film; it’s definitely not a first date movie that’s for sure. But lets cut right to the chase, I really enjoyed it! Yes the material is vile, disgusting and depraved; the core premise being a deliciously Cronenberg-esque fantasy, but its charming in its own peculiar little way. I saw Lars von Triers‘ misogynist angst-fest ‘Antichrist‘ (also courtesy of the Watershed) a little while back and similarly enjoyed that, albeit for very different reasons. Whereas Antichrist is beautifully shot and in my opinion a very playful film, toying with both film language and technique, Human Centipede is a straight up in your face ‘look at me and how disgusting I am’ schlock body horror. I’m not saying it isn’t slick and very well put together, because it is. It just comes at the subject matter from the opposite direction of totally in your face horror and is all the better for it.
Dieter Laser makes an absolutely fantastic mad German doctor; if I was going to be kidnapped, mutilated, tortured and humilated I’d be happy for it to be him wielding the scalpel and horse whip! The thing that most entertains with this grotty slice of cult cinema is its inadvertent blacker than black humour. Apparently Six wanted it to be deadly serious, but its sooooooo absurd you can’t but help laugh your way through the brutality. One of the funniest moments in the whole film came courtesy of a guy in the audience behind me who quipped “I hope she goes in the middle” [of the human centipede] when one of the annoyingly hammy American leading ladies tries a futile escape attempt… Dr Heiter dutifully obliges.
This film is a disgusting, nasty little tale with a suitably depressing ending, but for all its publicity bluster remains a fairly standard cliched horror. The premise involves two naive American tourists being abducted and abused by a crazed German doctor, wrapped around an admittedly raw core concept that propels it into the world of cult media fantasy. Fortunately its pulled off with enough flair and gusto to make it a genuinely refreshing spectacle for a seasoned gore hound.
The Back end
I’ve read quite a few interviews and reviews of the film to give a bit of background to this article. Tom Six was apparently co-creator of the original Big Brother series shot in Holland, which is perhaps why he’s chosen to wallow in such perverse subject matter. It turns out that the sequel is already in production and being shot in London called ‘Human Centipede II, the full sequence‘ which involves another human centipede 12 people long!
I can’t really fathom why some film-makers feel inclined to create such grubby examples of gross depravity or why people like myself feel compelled to watch them, but they exist and there is an audience for them. If you have the stomach for this kind of thing, you’ll love it. Its no way near as explicit as it could have been, and to be honest it was quite restrained on the gore front, simply leaving the very concept of what you are watching to do the work. If you don’t take it too seriously, it rewards you all the more.
After the movie we went for a drink next door at the old Murder bar to discuss what we had just sat through. Bizarrely, we found ourselves judging the late night flotsam and jetsom staggering past us through the eyes of Dr Heiter. At one point we were accosted by a truly obnoxious drunkard and his two friends, and we couldn’t help but think ‘he’d be the middle part…!’