Stories intended to frighten the living daylights out of the audience are among the oldest forms of entertainment around. There is something about the adrenaline rush that accompanies a good old fashion fright that gets the blood pumping. Of course somewhere in the back of your mind there is a little corner that knows you are safely watching a movie and are not actually in danger but the flight or fight response responsible for our reaction to horror flicks is so strongly ingrained in our psychological and physiological make-up that we can become completely taken over for a moment or so at least. The two major divisions in approach to horror are psychological or visceral; build the terror in the mind or slam the horror into the gut of the viewers. Once that is decided the film maker then has to choose between the ever popular supernatural antagonists of one that is frightfully real. In the case under consideration here, the Dutch horror flick ‘The Human Centipede’, the film maker uses a very fitting hybrid approach creating a movie that is bizarre but with a nagging sense that it could happen. This film is almost beyond comprehension. It is practically impossible to state a priori weather the film works or not. I usually try to take into account the vision of the film maker judging the merit of the movie by how well it reflects that vision. In this case the goal of the film maker, Tom Six, to make a flick that will instigate controversy by being unimaginably disgusting. Well, Six did succeed wildly in this endeavor at least according that that criterion. When you include audience entertainment as a de facto requirement of any film than its success will depend more on personal objectively measured qualities than pertains with moist films. Sure, liking any film is by nature objective but this flick is so off the beaten track there is pretty much nothing to use as a comparison. One thing is quite certain; if you can manage to sit through the entirety you will come away with a strong opinion regarding it. This is not the kind of movie that leaves the audience ambivalent.
Tom Six is making a sizable splash in the jaded horror community with this his initial foray into the genre. His previous films were comedies that received less than stellar acceptance and directing a season of the Dutch variation of the reality television series ‘Big Brother. How a film maker can make the move so quickly from light projects like those to something as dark , twisted and demented as ‘Human Centipede’ is equally far past understanding. The concept for this story apparently came from Six joking around with his friends pondering what a suitable punishment would be to inflict on a pedophile. From this the idea of ‘The Human Centipede’ took shape, no pun intended. The premise here is sickening. An insane surgeon becomes infatuated with the idea of creating a human centipede’; to this end he devises a procedure that will connect a group of human beings anus to mouth. I’ll pause here for those with a weak stomach to take care of business. Yes, this means the first in line is the only one to receive fresh food not previously processed by another’s alimentary track. For the two hapless victims downstream feeding time is pretty awful. Six apparently consulted with a surgeon to authenticate the technical ‘accuracy’ and ‘possibility’ of this ultimately unorthodox procedure. Even with this ‘endorsement’ potential backers were not given details concerning the actual connection in fear it would turn them off. You think? Reportedly several actresses just walked out when given the details of what would be required by their performance.
Mr. Six did not abandon the established precepts of the genre. The film begins in a very familiar fashion. Two young women, Lindsey (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) are on holiday vacation from the United States in Europe. It must be an imperative that every young woman tourist has to drive at night deserted road through the woods. Predictably the young ladies get a flat and have neither the inclination nor proficiency to change the tire themselves. Needless to mention it is a very dark and stormy night. Here’s a little piece of advice for you girls traveling abroad. If you find yourself in a similar situation RUN; It is much better to remain sopping wet and cold than anything your perspective host has in store for you. The lamentable Jenny and Lindsey find themselves knocking on the door of Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser). It turns out that he is one of leading surgeons when it comes to separating conjoined twins. In his deranged professional opinion separating people is no challenge at all. What really interests him is joining people together via their digestive systems by connecting the anus of one person to the mouth of another stringing his ‘patients’ together in a hellish daisy chain. The girls are horrified when they discover they are to become part of Herr Doctor’s fiendish experiments. He intends to connect them to a captive truck driver but he proves to be medically incompatible with the young women. Ultimately that function as well as the admirable position of first in line goes to a Japanese tourist Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura). If you are being forced into participation in this experiment the first place position is the one to hope for. . Eventually a pair of policemen, detectives Kranz (Andreas Leupold) and Voller (Peter Blankenstein)come poking around ruining the doctor’s fun just as he is making some headway.
One factor to his credit is Six avoids going overboard with the graphic details avoiding the buckets of fake blood and entrails that many horror hopeful rely on. Then again in this particular instance just the discussion of the procedure and a few glimpses of the creature are enough to induce a sick feeling in the stomachs of the audience. A few cringe worthy topics are employed here. Going under surgery is the ultimate surrender. While under anesthesia you are completely st the mercy of the surgeon. The opposite is also threatened; performing the procedure while the patient is fully awake, aware of every agonizing moment. Then there is the nearly universal taboo involving the consumption of fecal matter off the chart. This is a macabre story sure to test the resolve of any torture horror aficionado.