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Overall Rating
1.3

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 10%
Pretty Bad: 10%
Total Crap80%

1 review, 4 user ratings


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Human Centipede II: Full Sequence, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"With Six, You Get. . .Well, It Ain't No Eggroll"
1 stars

For those of you who somehow managed to miss the 2009 gross-out horror epic "The Human Centipede"--and good for you if that is the case--it told the story of a mad German scientist who decided to take his unparalleled skill at separating Siamese twins into a stomach-churning new direction by kidnapping and drugging a couple of American bimbos and a Japanese man so that he could surgically attach them head-to-hinder (you can imagine, though if you ever plan to eat, sleep or love again, you probably shouldn't) in an effort to create the titular creation and demonstrate that there are certain situations in which it is infinitely preferable to be the lead person instead of bringing up the rear. Although bottomlessly tasteless, repulsive and devoid of any real entertainment value to anyone other than the kind of hard-core fanboys who drop the word "transgressive" as often as Dick Cavett used to deploy the name "Groucho," I suppose that if one had to delve deeper into it--and that, after all, why I am paid the moderate bucks--the film did happen to have a couple of elements that could be said to have been of interest. The singular, shall we say, performance by Dieter Laser as the lunatic surgeon was kind of fascinating in the way that he managed to find a bizarre balance between cool control and scenery-chewing madness. Considering just how lurid and disgusting of a premise that the film had, director Tom Six's decision to utilize a pristine, clinical and utterly antiseptic visual style--dominated by bright whites and shiny surfaces--was an arresting choice that quietly accented the odd and gruesome nature of  what was going on in the center of it all. And while the notion of such a thing as a human centipede was enough to put most right-minded people off their lunch for the immediate future and certainly wasn't developed as anything other than as an excuse for a barf-bag extravaganza, the basic idea was interesting enough to make one wonder  how it might have developed if it had fallen into the hands of someone like David Cronenberg back in the early days when he was churning out button-pushing genre films that successfully combined the art house with the grindhouse.

    Although plenty of people would have been happy to see "The Human Centipede" simply disappear without a trace, the premise was so calculatingly lurid that it became some kind of a cult favorite among hardier moviegoers who took to consider simply sitting through its parade of atrocities without barfing to be some kind of badge of honor among their peers (even after some observers began to note that, as with so many geek shows in the past, cinematic or otherwise, the film was nowhere near as disgusting as the advance hype suggested) and it even began to edge its way into the mainstream via reference on such television shows as "South Park" and "Community." Therefore it was perhaps inevitable that a follow-up film would be made and when that happened, it would most likely need to up the gruesomeness factor in order to compensate for the inevitable lack of surprise the second time around. As a result, Tom Six has returned with "The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)" and I can assure that it is just as stupid, squalid and revolting as the first one, except for the frequent passages when it is stupider and even more squalid and revolting than previous, and that there is no point in which it is at all leavened by any of the minor points of interest that I grudgingly admitted to in the previous paragraph. Trust me, these are not the hand-wringing whines of anyone who quails in the face of horror movies beyond the usual PG-13 multiplex pablum--even the hardiest horehounds are likely to be put off by its combination of grotesque imagery, overweening pretensions and countless moments of outright sadism aimed at both the characters stuck on the screen and those stuck in the theater as it unspools before them.

    The conceit this time around is that the original "The Human Centipede" was just a movie and our story now takes place in the real world where it is the singular obsession of Martin (Lawrence R. Harvey), a fat, lonely and borderline inarticulate weirdo who has made it the central focus of his life. As unlikely as that may be, it makes sense when you consider the rest of his grim existence--he lives in a cramped London apartment with his monstrous mother (Vivian Bridson), noisy neighbors and a pet centipede and works as the apparently single security guard at a mammoth parking complex where he passes the unending downtime by watching the film on a tiny monitor in his booth and occasionally pleasuring himself with the aid of some handy sandpaper. (Almost forgot. Mom--you might want to check out early on this particular review.) Already on the border of psychosis thanks to years of psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of his father, as diagnosed by a sneezy-seeming shrink (when he isn't blatantly looking at his patient in a decidedly unclinical manner himself), Martin finally crosses the borderline when his mom tears up his prized scrapbook of "Human Centipede"-related memorabilia.

    After caving in Mom's skull and then propping her up at the dinner table, he sets off to not only bring his favorite film to life but to outdo it by snatching and subduing no fewer than twelve people in order to create his own personal mega-centipede. Of course, Martin lacks a few of the things that made the mad doctor's experiment in the film such a success. Instead of a sterile operating room, he is operating out of a filthy warehouse that looks so grungy that being centipeded might not even be the worst thing to happen to anyone stuck in there for a prolonged period of time. Instead of the mad doctor's precise set of surgical skills, Martin lacks the kind of deep-set medical knowledge required to treat a boo-boo, let alone conjoin a group of unfortunate souls. And while the mad doctor had judicious editing and effective prosthetics to create the largely bloodless illusion of a human centipede, Martin has little more at his disposal than a staple gun to create his highly imperfect sutures. On the other hand, he does have a certain degree of ingenuity and at one point, he even lures actress Ashlynn Yennie, who played the unfortunate rear end of the cinematic centipede, to England (under the pretense of auditioning for a Quentin Tarantino film) to unwittingly recreate her role in the real-life version. As Yennie is the only person to be featured in a prominent role in both "Human Centipede" films, I can only presume that she is either Tom Six's muse or his hostage. Either way, she definitely needs a better agent.

    Although the original "Human Centipede" was charged with being one of the most repulsive and disgusting movies ever made, largely by people who never actually got around to watching it themselves, most of those who did actually sit through the whole thing noted (some with relief and some with disgruntlement) that outside of the sight of the centipede itself, the film as a whole was nowhere as gross as expected. This time around, Six uses his film to respond to that criticism by creating a movie that is as viscerally repellent as the original promised to be, presumably to criticize both those who felt that it went too far as well as those who felt that it didn't go far enough. Those of you with longer memories will recall that Tobe Hooper deployed a similar conceit when he sequelized his own notorious genre classic with "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2" no less than a quarter-century ago. Back then, however, Hooper had the radical notion of backing up his graphic bloodletting and limb-severing with dark humor and adroit social commentary that viciously satirized the success-at-all-costs mindset of the Reagan era (with the cannibalistic family going around killing yuppie scum and serving them up to their own kind in the form of their award-winning chili), Texas gun culture and unnecessary sequels and as a result, he transformed what could have been the crassest cash-in follow-up imaginable into a one-of-a-kind horror-comedy masterpiece that, as much as I revere "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," I strangely prefer to the original.

    By comparison, Six demonstrates none of the wit, tension or, dare I say, panache that Hooper employed all those years ago. As a horror film, it sucks because there is never any genuine sense of tension or unease to be had--since virtually every frame is designed to offend the sensibilities in some way or another, whatever impact they might have possessed in theory quickly dissipates into outright tedium. The meta-movie aspects are both pretentious and irritating and while I assume that Six is merely having fun with how fans of his films are perceived by depicting one as a burbling psychotic, this depiction is likely to rub many of his actual fans--such people do presumably exist--as badly as Woody Allen rubbed his fans with his alleged portrayal of them in his great "Stardust Memories." (Yes, I have just linked "The Human Centipede II" with "Stardust Memories"--top that, Armond White!) The performances are all nondescript with the exception of Lawrence Harvey wholly demented and utterly non-verbal (excluding grunts, groans, moans and the like) turn as Martin--for better or worse, he is certainly memorable and I hope his work leads to several long and lucrative years on the horror convention circuit because once his work becomes more widely seen, I suspect it will be virtually impossible for him to ever book another respectable acting role, let alone a hotel room or car rental. As for the gore, Six offers up one grotesquerie after another--ranging from standard mutilations to the unfortunate deployment of laxative to the nasty disposal of a newborn infant--and while things are toned down a bit due to the decision to shoot the film in black-and-white (save for one moment which will no doubt go down as the tackiest homage to "Schindler's List" ever committed to film), the sights are disgusting enough to put off straight-laced viewers and sloppy and repetitive enough to put off the more jaded denizens of the midnight movie circuit.

"The Human Centipede II" is too grotesque to work as a traditional horror movie, too self-consciously "controversial" to be genuinely transgressive at a time when something as resoundingly square as "The Help" has made poop-eating commercially viable and concludes with a final twist that is such a complete cop-out that even those hardy few who are still on its side up until that point are likely to part ways with it as a result. Speaking of parting ways, I would like to take this opportunity to announce that I am now officially washing my hands (among other body parts) of all things "Human Centipede"-related. I watched and reviewed the first one because it seemed like a potentially intriguing curiosity and nothing more. At first, I had planned on skipping this one entirely but relented on the basis that any review of it would result in a somewhat elevated hit count, especially considering the fact that most reputable critics are likely to give it a pass entirely. However, every man has his limit and I vow at this point that if Tom Six decides to push his luck again by offering the world "The Human Centipede III," I will be going nowhere near it. However, in the spirit of compromise, I will say that if Tom Six unexpectedly signs on to direct "Sex and the City III," I might have to give that one a look after all.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=23008&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/07/11 08:29:59
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2011 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2011 series, click here.

User Comments

3/05/15 Charles Tatum Tired exercise in shock value 1 stars
5/21/12 mr.mike No controlling moral authority. 2 stars
5/10/12 Marty too many logistical mistakes. black-white sucks but still very gross. no point tho. enjoy! 1 stars
11/08/11 Man Out Six Bucks Not far off from the real London 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-Oct-2011
  DVD: 14-Feb-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  07-Oct-2011
  DVD: 24-Feb-2012


Directed by
  Tom Six

Written by
  Tom Six

Cast
  Laurence R. Harvey
  Ashlynn Yennie
  Dominic Borrelli
  Georgia Goodrick
  Lucas Hansen
  Emma Lock



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