Tom Six is, depending on who you ask, either a sick man out to gain notoriety using cheap shock tactics and an urge to gross out audiences or he’s actually a brilliant and smart guy who also happens to use cheap shock tactics and has an urge to gross out audiences. I already know that, from the title alone, there are a number of people who won’t read this review and who wonder why anyone would make such a film.
For those who didn’t see the first movie, and many just wouldn’t even entertain the thought, it’s worth noting that it was a pitch-black comedy with an archetypal mad scientist and many moments that would actually sound a lot more disgusting when verbalised than anything that was shown onscreen. But there’s no denying that the central concept, all about a man who wants to attach three people together to form a human centipede, is shocking and wild enough to turn stomachs and get outraged tabloid readers to put pen to paper and write letters of complaint. I don’t know how many of those who spoke out about how disgusting the movie was actually saw it but I’d say that those who were more vocal about the movie stepping way over any moral boundaries were less likely to have seen it.
This second movie, on the other hand, is just about as shocking and gross as you’ve already heard. But you haven’t heard much about how witty and smart this one is and how it’s also a step up from the first movie in quality as well as raising things in the shock factor department. It was initially banned here in the UK and then allowed an 18 certificate after material was cut that amounted to over two minutes worth of stuff. Which is sad and ironic, considering the central subject matter of the movie.
Martin (Laurence R. Harvey in the role) doesn’t really speak or enjoy life or have any fun hobbies. He spends his time watching The Human Centipede (First Sequence) and daydreaming about somehow making a human centipede with 12 people. Martin’s clearly not quite right in the head, perhaps stemming from the abuse he has suffered throughout his life, and certainly not the sort of person who should be allowed to view The Human Centipede (First Sequence). Though he is nice enough to not discriminate with his choice of potential victims, picking men and women of various race, hoping to get a star from the first movie and even including a heavily pregnant woman in his plans.
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is for those who thought the first movie was fun but didn’t deliver on the promise of the delirious title. It’s for the people who won’t flinch or turn away when real nastiness is shown onscreen. And, most interesting of all, it’s also for the people who are least likely to give it the time of day. This film is about the ridiculousness of blaming individual movies for the actions of those with unhealthy minds. It pokes fun at the issue of censorship and how futile it is while also provoking people who are easily provoked by theis type of material. Which makes it saddening to see the way that the film has been (mis)handled by the censors, who clearly don’t see the irony of their outrage.
Wisely choosing to show the movie in black and white (with only a few seconds here and there making use of the colour brown . . . . . . . . . . you can perhaps guess the context), Six manages to make things bearable. Just. The violence and general abuse are downright horrid and almost every other scene features something so painful that it will make you wince.
The acting is what it needs to be. Laurence R. Harvey looks creepy and deranged in the role of Martin and is a wholly convincing lunatic. Ashlynn Yennie bravely returns to the series and does well playing a version of herself in the film. Everyone else takes their turn in incurring the wrath of Martin and then enduring pain.
Sadly, outside of the standard reviews you will find in the mainstream media, you’re probably more likely to hear about how great the gore is or how appalling the idea of the whole thing is rather than any comment on the full movie itself. It’s actually a smart, horribly graphic, film that raises the low bar set by the first movie and deserves to be remembered for something more than just stirring up controversy. Obviously not for everyone and certainly not for those with weak stomachs.
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) may be at a cinema near you from today. But don’t be surprised if it isn’t.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: TOM SIX
STARS; LAURENCE R. HARVEY, ASHLYNN YENNIE, MADDI BLACK, KANDACE CAINE, DOMINIC BORRELLI, LUCAS HANSEN, BILL HUTCHENS
RUNTIME: 88 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: NETHERLANDS, UK, USA