Friday, September 10, 2010

The Human Centipede (First Sequence), or A Title That Delivers, If Nothing Else

I could've sworn I posted this. Oh well, enjoy!

Writer/Director/Producer: Tom Six
Starring: Ashley C. Williams, Dieter Laser (Lexx), Akihiro Kitamura (Heroes), Ashlynn Yennie
Run-Time: 92 minutes
Release Date: Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Rating: Not rated in the United States

When my girlfriend first described The Human Centipede to me, I was mesmerized by the prospect. Being the horror movie buff I am, I read up on the film, watched the trailer, and listened to the buzz. To say I was pretty excited to see what all the fuss was about was an understatement. Having finally seen it, I feel torn. Either it wasn’t as hardcore as everybody said it was, or there’s something seriously wrong with me.

The plot is pretty simple. German surgeon and mad scientist Dr. Heiter (Laser) kidnaps two American tourists, Lindsay (Williams, who’s only other role was an uncredited Nelwyn villager from Willow in 1988) and Jenny (Yennie, another relative newcomer, her only other role being ‘Thai Kissing Girl’ in something called Evan and Gareth Are Trying to Get Laid), as well as Japanese tourist Katsuro (Kitamura, who turned out a memorable performance in a season four episode of Heroes), and tells them all he’s going to turn them into a human centipede, linked from ass to mouth. A great man once said, “You never go ass to mouth.”

And so, the movie unfolds just as Dr. Heiter promises. The audience is treated to a mercifully abridged surgical procedure that covers bits and pieces of the process he lays out for them, and before you know it, he’s turned them into a human centipede. The second act of the movie follows the unlucky trio and their masochistic master as he trains them in how to move as a single unit, watches with glee as the inevitable first bowel movement comes to pass, and beats them at the smallest hint of disobedience. The third and final act of the movie is pretty intense as the mad doctor’s grand scheme of being a messed up weirdo begins to unravel, leading to a fairly intense climax and an ending that will stick with you.

The movie, billed as “100% medically accurate,” was certainly disturbing, but I was disappointed to find that the only part I couldn’t bare to watch was a particular portion of the surgery montage involving tooth removal. It is definitely not for the weak of heart, but I was let down that I didn’t feel like I was going to lose my lunch. For all the hype, my inner gore-hound was only partly sated.

Of course, that’s not to say it wasn’t without merit. Dieter Laser plays the part of mad scientist with a fantastic zeal, able to calmly explain the grotesque procedure he’s about to perform and minutes later have that wide-eyed insanity as he strikes his new pet for not obeying his commands. Ashley Williams and Ashlynn Yennie both pull off vapid American tourist girl with ease, and for what it’s worth, played their rolls as Middle and Caboose as well as could be expected. Kitamura was the only one of the three who had a speaking part post-surgery, and he did a great job through-out. The other, minor characters, the few there were, all performed their roles satisfactorily, but didn’t stand out. To be fair, this movie wasn’t about them.

Roger Ebert gave this film no stars, not because it was bad, but because, as he puts it, “It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine.” I disagree. It was an entertaining, stomach-churning turn on a formulaic subgenre, and while it isn’t as disturbing to me personally, I’m sure many of you will have to take a break to run to the bathroom.

Score: 7/10.

Fun Fact: Filming for The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) began in June, 2010. According to Tom Six, First Sequence was just a taste, to get the audience’s feet wet. He described it as "'My Little Pony compared with part two." Full Sequence will feature, presumably among other things, a twelve-person centipede. Sign me up.

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