MPI // 2010 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 5th, 2010
"You never go ass to mouth!" -- Dante Hicks, Clerks II
Someone decided to make a movie about a mad doctor who sews people's mouths to other people's butts and the first person eats, then poops, then the second person eats the first person's poop, then the next person poops, and...ah, but already you've read too much and I've just started crying.
Let's move on.
In what must be a first on film, a crazy German doctor, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, in one of his first and hopefully last American films), decides to leave behind his successful career separating conjoined twins to become the equivalent of Dr. Moreau, only not as people-friendly. In the good doctor's remote, sprawling house sporting a laboratory with instruments that would make Hitler crap corncobs, Dr. Heiter kidnaps victims to be retrofitted as a new creation: a walking, eating, defecating human insect. All goes well until the people involved in said experiment decree this is not the ideal way to spend a Saturday night. During the last half of the movie, there are a lot of images that will make you wish you had been born blind. And deaf. And possibly without the capacity to feel human sadness. Right now I wish I didn't have any fingers so I didn't have to share all of this with you unfortunate readers.
Well now, wasn't that a wholly unpleasant experience. In the pantheon of disturbing horror movie constructs, The Human Centipede just may take the cake. You won't want to eat solid food a week after seeing this movie. And for the first time ever, you may also want to pass on using a commode until next Arbor Day. Director Tom Six has come up with an idea that makes me want to bathe in the invisible innocence of children and dry off with the towel of chastity just to feel halfway clean again in my soul. Every passing moment of this film is filled with sheer dread because we know what's coming -- one of the worst human fates imaginable, save for being forced to watch Jersey Shore, A Clockwork Orange-style.
Horror movies can be fun. They can be silly and filled with goofy images and titular scares. Then you have The Human Centipede, an experience that surpasses 'fun,' drives past 'disturbing,' and takes a flying leap off the ravine of 'insanity' into the cavernous darkness of 'Oh dear Lord, please scrub those images from my poor, crying retinas.' You'd better know full well what you're getting into before popping this movie into your player, lest you find yourself in the middle of an experience that makes I Spit on Your Grave and Hostel look like a Scooby-Doo animated movie marathon.
Look, I'm not here to tell you that The Human Centipede is a good movie. If I said that, I can only presume the rapture would come early leaving only me, a DVD player, and this movie as the last items on earth. I mean, look at the premise of this...thing: three people are sewn together buttocks to mouth and eat each others excrement. You couldn't make that into a conventional 'good' movie if you were given Steven Spielberg, Frank Capra, and a bag of pure sunshine all working together with magic pixie fairies in a field of singing tulips. However, I'm going to go on record as saying The Human Centipede is an effective movie. As a reviewer, I found everything I saw to be about as pleasing as having a monkey fling his poop at me while being dangled upside down from my pinky toes. Yet I cannot deny the film's sheer, visceral power -- it scared me, it creeped me out, it horrified me. In fact, I don't think I'm being overly dramatic when I say it made me feel as though everything good in the world had been tied up in a burlap potato sack and beaten to death with a rusty rake.
I do not know what the two lead girls (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) were paid to be in this film, but whatever it was they should have held out for more money. I can see their agent's pitch now: "You're basically going to naked from the waist up and attached to someone's bung hole by your mouth while wearing a diaper. But I promise, it'll be done tastefully." He lied. These two poor women have three functions in this film: be bimbos in the first third, act terrified during the middle section, and then emote with their faces imaginarily sewn to someone else's rump for the final leg. I can only imagine it was an awkward celebratory dinner after each actress's families and friends saw this film.
Dieter Laser -- whose name alone inspires feverish nightmares the likes of which could topple lumberjacks -- plays the role of the mad doctor Heiter with more relish than a Chicago-style triple hotdog with the works. The man looks like a classroom lab skeleton outfitted with beef jerky skin and two beady marbles for eyes. Laser is so convincing I'm guessing his own mother decided to suddenly become 'unlisted' in the phone book after this film was released. There's also Japanese actor Akihiro Kitamura, but I'm sure he has shamed his entire family with this film, so the less said about him the better.
So, there you have it. One of the most horrible premises and cinematic experiences ever committed to celluloid. The movie works in its own twisted way, but then again so does a bird eating spider and I don't have much desire to spend a lot of time in that creature's presence. Tom Six was able to make the movie he wanted to make without much compromise, though clearly the trade off was the devil gets to use Six's soul as toilet paper in Hell's only Mexican restaurant.
This movie is recommended only for die hard horror fans, or those who want to clear out a family reunion in the worst way imaginable.
The Human Centipede is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a movie draped in darkness and evil. That being said, the transfer looks pretty good. MPI has made sure the blacks are all solid and the colors are dreary but clear. So, there you go -- you want to see a line of surgically sewn together humans, you might as well see it in the best digital way possible.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in English, Spanish and Japanese. Dialogue is clear, the music is ominous, and you can clearly make out the times when someone is making a suckling sound on another person's anus. There's a sentence I never thought I'd write in a review.
The extra features include a deleted scene (more like a behind-the-scenes look at a deleted scene), a behind-the-scenes featurette that is fairly rough, an interview with director Tom Six, some casting tapes that show audition footage for the main actresses, a foley session (one word: gross), some alternate posters, a feature commentary with director Tom Six (I honestly listened to only snippets since I had zero interest in sitting through this movie twice), and finally a trailer for the film.
There's war, there's pestilence, there's famine. Once you've enjoyed those rewarding activities, you're ready for The Human Centipede.
The Human Centipede is the feel-good movie of the year, if your definition of "feeling" involves God being dead and the universe collapsing in on itself like a dying star.
* The Human Centipede's full title is The Human Centipede (First Sequence). Supposedly there is a sequel in the works, but reports indicate we won't actually know that until we see the four horsemen arrive on storm clouds filled with locusts and blood.
** I feel that number grades are arbitrary and unwarranted for a movie like this. I give the acting a 1 and the story a 100 because nothing in this movie makes any sense in the scope of human taste, and my review should accurately reflect that.
Review content copyright © 2010 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (German)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scene
* Audition Tapes
* Poster Gallery