While doing publicity for The Human Centipede [First Sequence], director Tom Six would often quip that the forthcoming sequel would make the first film “look like My Little Pony.” It seemed to become something of a mantra from a man intent on shocking the world, and perhaps a clever means of disarming the interviewer and getting a bit of a laugh while discussing the film’s revolting central conceit. Two years later, Six has proven to be a man of his word: The cinematic equivalent of a GG Allin concert, The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence] is a film spattered with so much blood and feces that we’re not sure if we should be chuckling at the cartoonish levels of morbid excess on display, or fleeing the theater in fear that -- in the colorful words of the British Board of Film Classification -- “harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.”
If only Six had put as much effort into his screenplay as he had into his efforts to turn our stomachs, perhaps The Human Centipede 2 could be, like its predecessor, considered something more than an elaborately staged gross-out gag -- a dead-baby joke stretched out to feature length. The plot and concepts presented in this sequel operate on such simplistic, glaringly obvious terms that, aside from the amusing idea that the first film apparently exists exclusively to feed the mania for the sequel, they simply cannot be taken seriously on any level.
As a young boy, Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) was sexually and psychologically abused by his father, who now languishes in prison. But the damage done to Martin was far beyond repair. These days, Martin works the graveyard shift at a subterranean parking garage and lives at home with his loathsome mother. Meanwhile, his lonesome job affords him the perfect opportunity to indulge in his favorite pastime -- compulsively watching director Tom Six's sick horror classic, The Human Centipede. And when Martin isn't watching the film, he can usually be found with his favorite scrapbook, which is bulging with Human Centipede memorabilia. Now, Martin's movie obsession is about to lead him down a frightening path of dark and deviant behavior; using Dr. Heiter's medical blueprints as his inspiration, Martin rents a warehouse and begins collecting victims to create his own version of the Human Centipede. But unlike Dr. Heiter, Martin is not an experienced surgeon, and doesn't have state-of-the-art medical equipment at his disposal. Alas, Martin only has some duct tape, a staple gun, and some other basic household items. It may not be ideal, but it's enough to get the job done. And once Martin has all 12 pieces of the centipede -- including a very special piece whom fans of the first film will immediately recognize -- his masterpiece will be complete.
In The Human Centipede, Six created a character (Dr. Heiter) whose sick obsession with transforming and manipulating the flesh offered a frightening reflection of such real-life monsters as Dr. Joseph Mengele. With that deeply disturbing concept -- brilliantly offset by gaunt veteran actor Dieter Laser’s comically over-the-top performance -- the film managed the difficult feat of being at once campy and terrifying. Likewise, Dr. Heiter was a man who dedicated his entire career to helping people who had gotten the short end of the stick from Mother Nature, giving them a second chance to live a normal life. The striking contrast between his former benevolence and his current malevolence gave Dr. Heiter a unique character dynamic that prevented the audience from simply writing him off as a monster, and Six’s restraint behind the camera -- as with some of the most-effective horror films -- demanded that viewers use their imagination to fill in some of the more-lurid gaps of what was actually shown.
Precious little is left to the imagination in The Human Centipede 2, and though the villain in the film is undoubtedly sweaty, squat, and bug-eyed enough to elicit fits of nervous laughter, he’s also a hopelessly tired psycho stereotype. There’s nothing particularly timely or innovative about making a horror film centered on a character whose perception of reality has been warped by cinema -- Dennis Christopher did essentially the same thing over 30 years ago in Fade to Black -- and thanks to Six’s laziness as a screenwriter, his take on the obsessed fan isn’t very interesting, either. The Human Centipede 2 exists solely and exclusively to shock. Everything else (including the plot) is strictly incidental, giving the impression that Six was on creative cruise control when he conceived this sequel. Even the decision to release the film in black and white seems completely arbitrary, given that it obviously exists within the same universe as The Human Centipede. Perhaps if Six had simply presented the scenes from the first film in color within the context of this sequel, it would have given the viewer something to think about in terms of varying gradients of reality or conscience. But no, just like virtually everything else in The Human Centipede 2, it’s a creative decision that seems to have been made on a whim and with little thought.
To take The Human Centipede 2 seriously is to give it an amount of power it neither earns nor deserves. It’s exploitation in its purest form, and pretentious, half-assed exploitation at that. So go ahead and laugh along with the joke if you have the fortitude; otherwise there’s simply no point in subjecting yourself to a film that so unapologetically forces you to wallow in such filth and bile. Besides, if the basic concept of the Human Centipede films can be taken as any indicator of how the series will progress, it should come as no real surprise that in the second installment of this depraved trilogy we’re already being force-fed digested crap.
Cast & Details
- Released: 2011
- Review: While doing publicity for The Human Centipede [First Sequence], director Tom Six would often quip that the forthcoming sequel would make the first film “look like My Little Pony.” It seemed to become something of a mantra from a man intent on shocking the… (more)