HUMAN CENTIPEDE (SEQUENCE ONE)
I’m not the kind that gets easily shocked. I’ve been around the block too many times. I mean, I know what shocking is when I see it. I can identify it. It just doesn’t get to me like it does others. There’s been many a time when a friend would drop a fork, or set their pizza back down on the plate, with a queasy twist of the head once the conversation gets too detailed, or when the movie on the tube gets a tad graphic. Never had that experience myself. When the arm gets lopped off, I reach for another handful of popcorn. When the face gets split open, that’s a cue for me to make another plate of nachos. It really does take a lot to put me off my food. Come to think of it, the last time I can remember really cringing was when Ed Norton was playing that creepy nazi dude, and he made this other dude bite the cement curb before smashing his Doc Martins down the back of his head. Shiiiiiivers!
That scene just hit a nerve, sort of on a visceral sense memory thing, like being in the dentist chair when the doc suddenly has a seizure while routing around your mouth. I mean really, who likes to have their teeth fucked with!
What usually gets to me is the stuff that kicks me poignantly in the balls. I remember watching a VHS I got from opening a subscription to Film Threat, and on there was a clip of some politician who was holding a televised press conference. He somehow got to feeling cornered and pulled out a handgun and blew the top of his head off through his mouth. That DID put me off my food. But it wasn’t the blood or the brains dripping from the wall or the sudden slump of the man’s body. What really got to me was the sudden vision of his real life wife and kids watching the televised event. The thought of their pain was what was sickening to me. That’s what shocks me. Not the gore, but the human condition turned sad.
I’ve heard all the buzz around about The Human Centipede and, well, it sounds up my alley. I’ve seen a good dose of the new stuff coming out of Germany, and a story about a mad doctor who joins three people by their digestive tracks – anus to mouth, anus to mouth – so it just sounds too good to miss. Maybe this will be the film that really shocks me!
In your standard horror setup, two American beauties get stranded on the backroads of Germany while tooling around looking for an exclusive party, only to find themselves strapped to hospital beds in the basement lab of a mad German doctor. And just as promised, the two girls get sewn together with another hapless tourist (a dude from Japan). But… before he does all that, the good doctor graphically explains the procedure to his victims in vivid detail, using an overhead projector, causing me to turn the volume down due to all the screaming and swearing (from my wife …. I kid). The detailed synopsis would certainly make a few heads turn, but the real squeamish bit comes a while later. It’s not the shots of the actual human centipede, but the moment that comes which answers the question: What’s gonna happen to all that food that the German doctor is feeding the Japanese guy at the head of the human centipede? Yeah, you know what’s gonna happen. So, you better put down the popcorn and fizzy pop, because it’s pretty sick.
Like I said, it’s all pretty standard stuff – outside of the anus/mouth stuff. The action is straight forward generic horror pacing: girls get lost/creep snatches ‘em up/cops happen by/victims attempt an escape. There’s nothing new on that end, which isn’t a surprise. What did surprise me is the lack of any imagination with the story or the characters. Such a sick mind that would come up with a human centipede scenario couldn’t follow through with some new twist on the old mad doctor routine? Dieter Laser is real creepy as the doctor (looking like a cross between Ichabod Crane and Udo Kier), but that’s only because he likes to do weird things to people in his lab. Director Tom Six (who also wrote the script) missed out on an opportunity to create a unique character with Laser’s doctor, by not giving him some life beyond being the standard spooky guy. The victims are fairly shallow, as well. Like mice in a cage, they really didn’t need to name these characters, because one was no different from the other.
The one real saving grace of this film was Tom Six’ ability to keep the gimmick in check. He could have easily gone overboard with some completely ridiculous gags (pardon the pun), but he shrewdly dodges the obvious, and keeps the horror of the situation, well…. horrible.
I was hoping for a little more out of this flick, but still Human Centipede succeeds at making you flinch. You’ll never tour the backroads of Germany and get a flat tire the way you used to after you see this flick!!