Human Centipede on Blu-ray

Thursday, 07 October 2010 07:55

Dutch director Tom Six came up with his outlandish, sickening idea for this movie whilst musing over ‘suitable’ punishments for pedophiles. What if, he thought, the perpetrators had to have their mouths surgically attached to the rectums of large, sweaty truck drivers? That disquieting idea germinated into a tale about a surgeon with delusions of godhood who creates a man-made siamese triplet with a single digestive tract.

As it opens, Dr Heiter (Dieter Laser) sits patiently in his car in a German motorway lay-by. A truck driver pulls up behind him for a toilet break, and soon afterwards Heiter is calmly shooting the man with a tranquiliser dart. Cut to two beautiful women, dolling themselves up for a night of clubbing. They get lost, suffer a blow-out, and chance upon the doctor’s house whilst stumbling through the woods.

Human Centipede on Blu-ray and DVDHaving already been disturbed by a pervert and got soaking wet in the cold night rain, Lindsay (Ashley C Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) accept Heiter’s hospitality despite immediate misgivings about his strange questions and cold stare. Whilst pretending to phone for help, he spikes their drinks and thus he has the three people he requires to begin his unthinkable physiological experiment.

Dieter Laser and his character (ironically a world-leading specialist on the safe separation of siamese twins) ensure that “Centipede” stands apart from standard ‘mad scientist’ fare. Part Dr Frankenstein, part David Lynchian, incomprehensible nut-job, Heiter does lose his cool occasionally but for the most part he oozes calm intellectualism and his chilly, alien nature forcefully relays his belief that he is a god amongst men.

His body language is stiff and precise, and his face maintains an expression of intense concentration and determination, without a flicker of emotion beyond an occasional, barely perceptible, wry and very knowing grin. There is no doubt that this man is the spider, and that those who stray into his domain are flies about to become forever trapped in his demented web.

As Six tells us, the first half of the film deliberately adheres to horror conventions, and the audience - sitting back to relax - think they know what is coming next. Only they do not. The director does his best to fly off at an obscure angle and take his movie into unchartered territory, and he is partly successful.

Once the human centipede has been assembled (with Japanese actor Akihiro Kitamura’s furious Katsuro taking over from the trucker as lead ‘segment’ due to tissue-type incompatibilities), for a while the film becomes a surreal comedy. Heiter endeavours to train the dazed, panicking humans into becoming a replacement pet for his beloved ‘Three-Dog’ (no need for further explanation there!). The doctor dons riding boots after Katsuro bites him, and wields a riding crop to try to keep the centipede in line.

For a film with such a disgusting premise, the amount of gore on display is actually very conservative; the montage sequence showing the surgical procedure is over in minutes. The victims have muslin wrapped around their behinds and necks to conceal the joins between mouths and bottoms, though the back two do sport horrendous facial scars that make them look like they have inherited The Joker’s impossible grin. The movie relies on the psychological horror of the situation more than the physical discomfort, immense though that must be. Claustrophobia, disorientation and a loss of identity are but three of the sensations that must be shooting through the victims’ minds.

Where the film fell down for me was that the anticipation of the surgery and its outcome was more disturbing than the end result. Perhaps I put up mental blocks once Heiter had completed his project because it was so unnatural and appalling, or perhaps I have become numbed to the distasteful sights that the ‘torture porn’ genre has to offer. Whatever the reason, the second half of the movie is not as successful as the first, though the introduction of a couple of inquisitive police detectives does elevate the tension somewhat.

The Blu-ray version offers a stunningly crisp picture, heightening the cold, clinical nature of Heiter’s surgical laboratory. In fact, his whole house is anally clean and tidy, and the numerous pieces of unnerving artwork showing Siamese twins speak volumes of this lunatic’s mentality and interests.

The special features on the disc are quite well put together, and prove both interesting and entertaining.

  • Behind the scenes footage gives us an insight into the making of the movie;
  • two interviews with Tom Six (who seems to be surgically welded to his large Stetson hat) reveal him to be a humorous, well-balanced individual (on the face of it, anyway!), whose influences naturally include David Cronenberg;
  • a Q&A session with Six and Laser amusing compares their partnership to Herzog and Kinski;
  • a deleted scene ups the Lynchian feel with Heiter doing a bizarre, unhinged rain-like dance as he delightedly reveals his creation for the first time; casting footage shows the leading ladies getting used to being on all fours;
  • a low-quality clip on the ‘foley session’ shows a scary man in a small sound booth preparing raw and cooked meat which he intends to use for the movie’s sound effects, and then the messy mountain of unidentifiable scraps left behind 16 hours later (this feature is probably on a par with the film itself for strangeness, especially for a vegetarian like me!);
  • a trailer and a solid audio commentary from Six round off the package.

“The Human Centipede [First Sequence] (Director’s Cut)” (2009) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Bounty Films. The running time of the main feature is 90 minutes approx, certificate ‘18’ and the movie retails for £16.99 on DVD and £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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