When director Tom Six’s The Human Centipede: First Sequence opened last year critics couldn’t wait to get their claws out over the film’s degrading scenes of two young girls and a Japanese tourist being sewn together mouth to bum. In doing so, they missed the film’s campy black comedy, thanks mainly to Dieter Laser’s brilliantly twisted turn as mad scientist Dr Heiter, hell-bent on creating his human centipede (well Siamese triplet, actually).
So how has Six topped that? Well, he’s has made a sequel so depraved it forced the BBFC to ban it until some 32 cuts were made, and so twisted that critics are now reaching for their thesauruses for new ways to use the word ‘sick’. Welcome to The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), a film I’ve experienced, so you don’t have to. But is it as bad as the critics have us believe?
I love movies that challenge you visually and mentally, and Tom Six (or should that be Sick from now on) has certainly pushed the boat out on this one in which a mentally-ill London parking attendant called Martin, who is totally obsessed with the original film, creates his own human centipede using a staple gun and gaffer tape in place of scalpels and surgical spirits.
Martin is a truly grotesque character. With his bulging Peter Lorre eyes, corpulent belly and dirty fingernails he’s one truly repulsive-looking character with a repellent personality to match. He suffers from asthma, coughs up blood all the time, and has a mother (a really OTT performance by Vivien Bridson) who wants to kill him for getting his sexually abusive dad locked up.
Martin is in every scene and doesn’t say a word (but we know he can speak). It’s a very physical performance by the actor (Laurence R Harvey) who spends the first half of the movie selecting his victims – including a pregnant woman, a couple whose child is left abandoned in their car, and the lead actress from the first film – all the while trying to avoid another attempt on his life by his Psycho-inspired mother, the predatory attentions of a sleaze ball shrink, and the fist of a thuggish neighbour.
The second half of the film sees Martin exact his sadistic plan and create his human centipede out his 12 victims. With no dialogue, just whimpers and groans, it’s quite an ordeal to watch, especially when the grubby little monster produces a syringe filled with a laxative that causes his deluded experiment to turn into a big long bottom burp, before descending into a total bloody mess.
While there are some hints of a social satire lurking in the script, Full Sequence doesn’t match the black comedy of the original and relies too heavily on puerile gags about bodily fluids and shock tactics to really shine. Given that, Harvey’s performance is a stand-out and his repulsive toad-like character is certainly destined to enter the horror hall of fame. So did I like it, well sort of… in a perverse kind of way. Will I watch it again? No! It’s best left as one of those once-only movie experiences – unlike the original, which still requires multiple viewings.