Trailer Tuesday: The Human Centipede
Every year there's at least one horror film that gets people talking - whether its about how scary, gory, gross-out, shocking or downright disturbing it is. Last year it was Lars von Trier's Antichrist. This year it's indie horror flick The Human Centipede, or, if you want to use the film's full title, The Human Centipede (First Sequence). And believe me, the more you read about it, the more you're likely to develop morbid curiosity about the movie. And having the desire to watch this one is a potentially very dangerous compulsion, like the need to touch a hot stove plate.
The trailer for The Human Centipede sums up the movie's premise well enough: Two young American woman, having apparently learned nothing from the 2 Hostel movies about the dangers of roaming Eastern Europe looking for a good time, get a flat tyre while searching for a German nightclub. Hopelessly lost, they seek help from a nearby house, only to find themselves at the mercy of the mad surgeon who lives there. You see, said surgeon is an expert at separating conjoined twins but has always dreamed of surgically crafting his own conjoined being - a 'human centipede,' with 3 people connected end to end by their gastric system.
Just, uh, digest, that descriptor for a moment and then let the disgust set in. As Kevin Smith stressed so many times in his Clerks II script, "you never go ass to mouth."
Now The Human Centipede's big claim to fame, apart from positioning itself at the pinnacle of the Torture Porn horror sub-genre (which is all about degradation, sadism and mutilation), is that it is being touted as "100% medically accurate." Apparently the procedures that wretched surgeon Dr. Heiter uses are entirely feasible - at least from a theoretical standpoint. Also, the second and third parts of a "human centipede" could apparently survive for years if their diet was supplemented by a drip (God knows what happens when #2 and 3 get a cold and can't breathe out their noses?). This is of course all according to The Human Centipede's writer-director - the curiously named, and no doubt eager for hype, Tom Six.
Judging by the trailer, the acting in The Human Centipede is pretty damn amateurish on the whole. This said, of the cast of unknowns, Dieter Laser, who plays the twisted surgeon, has scooped a handful of awards, potentially positioning his character alongside Saw's Jigsaw as a 21st Century horror icon, and successor to the likes of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. It's worth noting at this point that work is already underway on a Human Centipede sequel, entitled The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), where the doc will up his ambitions and attempt to connect 12 people.
The Human Centipede has won several awards at Horror Film Festivals around the world, yet the response from critics and the viewing public has been exceptionally mixed. The film is just 46% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, where some reviewers are either calling it disturbingly memorable and original, or an absolute bore that is not only a bad movie, but far tamer than it should be. Without having seen The Human Centipede, my gut feeling is that the film is far stronger in concept than execution.
The Human Centipede has been touring the world's film festival circuit, and has even screened in South Africa as part of the 2009 SA Horrorfest (where the film incidentally won the Best Ensemble Cast Award). The Human Centipede has also just had a limited cinema release in New York in late April, and is currently available in North America as Video on Demand. It's unknown if or when the film will open in South Africa. It may go straight to DVD here, or, more likely, briefly pop up on the cinema circuit for a week in a year's time. If you're into this kind of thing - i.e. perverted thrills - you may want to keep your eyes on the local release schedule in the coming months.