The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009) movie poster

(2009) dir. Tom Six
viewed: 05/08/10

It’s often said that they don’t make movies like they used to, but in the case of The Human Centipede (First Sequence), I have to say that they didn’t make movies like this before, either.  The film, whose title is intriguing enough in itself, is a case of almost pure concept and then the attempt to make a movie out of it.  The concept is even more bizarre and outre than the title begins to imply.  Read forward if you have the stomach for it.

We have a semi-classic horror trope of a mad scientist.  But this is a mad scientist with and idea that it’s hard to imagine Mary Shelley ever considering.  This mad scientist has a dream of creating a human centipede, by way of plastic surgery, and more than that, he wants them connected from mouth to anus, creating a single gastric system.  Yes, indeed.

Influenced perhaps by David Cronenberg and more recent Japanese horror films, with perhaps a dash of “torture porn” thrown in, writer/director Tom Six has a film whose concept is definitely on the outside of even some of the more deranged and surprising films that have perhaps ever come out.  And this would be particularly impressive if the film could quite live up to the concept.

The scientist is a German doctor (with a little Nazi experimentation in his core) who abducts a young Japanese man, a truck driver (whom he deems unfit), and two traveling American bimbos to make his great creation.  He explains his plan to the frightened and angry captives and then performs his surgery on them, successfully creating his human centipede, which he then attempts to train like his previous creation, a Rottweiler centipede (or 3 Dog, I think he calls it).

The film isn’t poorly or cheaply produced, and the mad doctor, played by Dieter Laser, is creepy right out of David Lynch’s central casting.   It’s a reasonably well-made affair, with developing tensions and few cheap thrills.  It’s just that with such an outsized concept, in a sense, despite some surgical scenes and a fair amount of shots with the bandaged centipede whimpering and screaming in Japanese (he got to be the head), it doesn’t perhaps become gruesome or explicit enough (or perhaps have enough more story or logic behind the concept.)  Something is missing, and I don’t mean that it needed more segments (though a sequel is supposedly in the works with a 12-person creature).

It’s far freakier than your average disturbing horror film, which I am guessing that you’ve assumed if you’ve even read this far.  And the concept is so bizarre, bizarre enough to draw me to it, as with others with perhaps too warped of a sense of entertainment, that  it’s apt to give it credit for what it’s got going on there.  It’s certainly not for the squeamish.

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