The jury is still out for me because I can’t quite make up my mind, but it may be that The Human Centipede (First Sequence) will go down in my book as the most disturbing movie I’ve ever seen. Director Tom Six boldly goes with his bio-horror feature — deemed “100% Medically Accurate” — where no director has gone before, or should go, for that matter. A sadistic doctor is so obsessed with creating his own “pet” that he conceives of a plan to stitch together three unfortunate people thereby creating a “human” centipede. If you stop for a moment to ponder the “anatomy” of such a creature, you’ll realize that it involves a serious ass-to-mouth arrangement.
Two young American girls with more enthusiasm than sense are traveling through Germany. They agree to meet a friend at a popular night club. For some inexplicable reason, they take a short-cut through the woods. When their car breaks down, they wander like lost children until they stumble upon, in the best Hansel and Gretel fashion, a house belonging to a mysterious and very creepy-looking man named Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) from whom they seek help. What they find is their worst nightmare come to life. I mean, wouldn’t alarm bells go off in your head if you noticed your host had an abstract painting of conjoined babies hanging on his wall? And, apparently our dimwitted heroines never read the memo that women shouldn’t accept drinks from strange men. Only something sinister can come from a situation like this.
When they wake from their drugged sleep, Lindsay and Jenny (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie, respectively) find themselves helpless, strapped down on hospital beds and hooked up to IVs and other medical gadgets. Struggle is useless. Here, they along with another victim Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), a Japanese man with a strong sense of national pride, learn of their fate at the hands of the good doctor: The trio will be reassembled into a “human” centipede.
Director Six’s film strikes me to be as much a Nazi revenge fantasy, as it does a horror movie. One look at the stone-faced Dr. Leiter — he of the black shoe-polish hair and spackle make-up — calls to mind real-life Nazi madman, Josef Mengele, who experimented with conjoining twins, among his other innumerable atrocities. It seems like no accident that our victims are a Japanese man and two American women. If the anatomical arrangement of bodies means anything, then the doc issues the biggest fuck you to the Americans who are placed one after the other at the tail end of the Japanese man. The digestive system being what it is, we all know that what goes in, must come out. You get my meaning. It’s a double blow considering America prevailed over the Germans and the Japanese in World War II. For winning the war, the Americans are literally forced to eat shit.
Control and degradation gives Heiter a sexual rush. Witness how his lids lower slowly and his eyes roll back each time he makes an incision, removes some tissue, or injects a sedative or lethal concoction. The centipede’s waking after surgery sends him into paroxysms of erotic bliss as he embraces a mirror and kisses his reflection, so overcome with his own twisted genius.
The rest of the film is a catalog of cruelty, subjugation, perversion, and degradation as Heiter puts his “pet” through its paces. It’s hard to stomach his barbarism and the victim’s suffering even for a horror film buff like me. More than once I wondered if I should just walk out.
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) had the dubious distinction of rendering me speechless, something that rarely happens. Once it was over, I sat there dumbstruck with my chin scraping the floor. I’m forced here to assign a starred rating, and that’s difficult. It’s a film intended for the diehard filmgoers, horror fanatics, and midnight circuit viewers who take risks and can appreciate the twisted artistry of Tom Six. To the general filmgoer and casual horror fan, consider my review a public service announcement and stay far, far away.
By the way, if you think the madness of The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is more than enough, think again. Tom Six’s follow-up, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is due in theaters in 2011.