A Sick Sadist's Story

Movie Title: The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009/2010)

Every writer or aspiring writer at some point finds herself writing a piece merely to showcase one particular aspect of a work. It may just be a character the writer thinks is cool, a super power, a scenario, a moral message, or a cause that is suppose to have us stop and think. In most such cases, the love is not the finished work, just one piece of it. The work itself is an excuse to showcase one small part of what is probably an inferior whole product.

Gaining steam and causing incredible controversy in 2010 is The Human Centipede (First Sequence), a 2009 independent film birthed from precisely the above motive. It exists only to tell the story of a sadistic ex-doctor, whose fantasy - whose stop-at-nothing obsession - is to make human beings into a “three-human human,” connected from anus to mouth, crippled, and made to walk and live like a centipede. He started with his three-made-into-one dog. Now he moves up to humans.

The gorehounds are not a new breed. We've had generations of blood being splattered upon walls and furniture while those who can't get enough on-screen bloodshed are eating pizza and drinking Big Red. Entire series' of terrified teens being hacked to death by men with hook hands has totally lost its effect. It's just not new anymore. No one bats an eye when they see them, which is why we keep seeing more of these droppings of drek, in hopes of their becoming a sensation.

How do you break new ground in the horror genre? Do what The Human Centipede did. It broke new ground, so much so that Roger Ebert said: "No horror film I've seen inflicts more terrible things on its victims than ‘The Human Centipede.’” I'm ready to say the same right now. But before you go out and see it, make sure you get your eating done now. Any post-movie dinner plans are sure to be cancelled.

What is Director Tom Six saying with his Human Centipede project? Nothing, nothing except that he wants you to sit and watch every belabored and long scene as two clueless girls and two average men scream and cry, protesting their captivity and demanding to be released, only to be dumbfounded by their perpetual helplessness. This is a gross sadist's tale that knows no shame. But you've got to commend its shameless audacity and single-mindedness of purpose, however narrow.

The premise of the film is brilliant, or brilliantly simple is more like it. It possesses the creativity of a childlike “mad scientist” villain who fixates to a fault on his dark, wicked wiles and shifts big levers on the wall. Dieter Laser is "Dr. Heiter," a first-rate surgeon and menacing villain who will make your skin crawl in less than 5 seconds of seeing him. He says in so many words: "I don't like human beings." Would that every mad scientist was so overtly outspoken. But what can I say except: I really, really like this guy!

Two clueless girls, ditzy American tourists, get a flat and find themselves out in the middle of nowhere. They end up in the living room of Dr. Heiter, at first noticing the weird artwork on the wall. You can try and guess where things go from there. But speaking of guessing, The Human Centipede is sometimes predictable, but the beauty is that you have to wait a little longer than anticipated, and you aren't disappointed when the expected happens. The only deeply respectable performance – and one of Oscar level candidacy – is that of Laser's. You've not met a villain like this, one with such explosive passion for his perversion—and without a lick of sympathy for his scarred-for-life victims. 

About one-third of the screenshots are too long, but they are not a setback like the overacting on the parts of some that would trump Captain Kirk's most emphatic line. In those long shots is time—time taken to bring out the details of the suffering. It is horrifying to think of an IV needle yanked out of an arm, and it is horrifying to see the water getting red with a woman's blood as she waits and swims, trying to stay out of harm's way. It is horrifying to look up and see a madman through the ripples of the water, wondering where he goes when he leaves and what he will do next. It is the waiting that builds suspense while what you are made to imagine is worse than what is actually seen. And what is seen will stay with you long after the film ends—trust me on that one!

It's too much for most of us to even think about...a line of three people connected at the anus and mouth. The one at the front says: “I have to shit. I'm sorry. Forgive me.” This is butt-bare, sensational shock value at its most grotesque and worst. Word has it that even the test audiences couldn't cope. It's hard to think about the top-up female nudity or the aggrandized gore when faced with something like this. I'm betting you already know whether or not you are going to see this film.

Filmed in the Netherlands, a lot of the dialogue is in German, with the English translation printed at the bottom of the screen. This was 91 minutes of the most repulsive and yet compelling viewing I have ever seen. Writer and director Tom Six tells a story of sadism, the likes of which, quite frankly, have not been witnessed until now. And Six is already working on a part two, The Human Centipede (Full Sequence). We will never really know if this sick, sadist's story is a description of the Dr. Heiter character's fantasies, or that of the writer and creator of the character. One thing I am certain of: it took an unusual mind and motivation to put this together. 


Grade: A- (4 stars) Recommended!
Rated: No MPAA rating
Director: Tom Six
Summary: Two lost girls in Europe unknowingly arrive at the house of an ex-surgeon psychopath. 
Starring: Dieter Laser "Dr.Heiter," Ashley C. Williams "Lindsay," Ashlynn Yennie "Jenny," Akihiro Kitamura "Katsuro," Andreas Leupold "Detective Kranz," Peter Blankenstein "Detective Voller"
Genre: Drama / Horror