Image credit: Movieline.com
First off — do you have your barf bag ready? Good. You’re going to need it.
If you thought “The Human Centipede” was enough to make you regret eating your lunch (or eating anything, ever), Dutch horror filmmaker Tom Six is back with a sequel, “The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence),” that comes out this Friday. In the former, the film revolves around a sadistic doctor who captures three unwilling victims for a hideously deranged experiment: linking them via surgery, mouth to anus, as a living “centipede.” In his new feature, Six is out to make his first film look like butterflies and daisies by comparison. Apparently, according to the New York Times, Six begins where his first film leaves off (the films are connected on a meta-level, oh joy), in which an insane parking attendant (see image above) in Britain seeks to create a 12-person centipede . . . with a staple gun. Feel free to reach for that barf bag now.
Remarkably, Six’s lurid fascination with grossing people out and the human digestive system has sparked a lot of international debate on freedom of speech and censorship. The New York Times reports that “The Human Centipede 2” has been rejected by the British Board of Film Classification, or the UK’s version of the Motion Picture Association of America. Consequently, “The Human Centipede 2” can’t be legally shown anywhere in the UK. If the ban sounds harsh, maybe the scene involving the main character wrapping barbed wire around his penis to rape the woman at the centipede’s rear had something to do with swaying the BBFC’s opinion. But fear not, “The Human Centipede 2” will be showing in American theaters near you, with the most controversial scenes (such as the aforementioned example) cut out.
So is the film good? The jury is out and driving away as fast as they can. Admittedly, I have not seen either films, and would really not wish them upon anyone. From what I can tell, the film horrifies sensitive souls, but real fans of the “torture porn” genre claim Six’s films are a one-trick pony — even boring. It appears to me that Six is not the best example of making “art” pushing the boundaries of censorship, but rather a showman who enjoys creating hype for its own ends. In other words, Six’s films are not intended to provoke social commentary or showcase technical artistry in the horror genre, but built as an effective publicity machine. The film’s concept lends itself to viral marketing, but ends in a repetitive “look how gross I can be” scenario. Where does it all end? And can it be redirected to more productive ends?
Of course, in the world of horror filmmaking, it’s tricky to balance graphic violence and “tastefulness”— especially when the game is all about pushing people’s limits in the first place. Recent successful torture porn films like “Hostel” and “A Serbian Film” are arguably guilty of the same goals as “The Human Centipede” series. In all of these films, the highlight is watching sadistic — often sexually degrading — violence, up close and personal. What sets critically lauded horror films apart from your regular banned porno, then, is emphasis on form over content. However, the question of whether or not Six’s films fit into the “high art form” category will probably never be answered for me, since I will probably never get over its nauseous content enough to watch and judge fairly.
However, I do have Tom Six to thank for creating some entertaining reactions from film critics and bloggers. In response to the film’s scatological perversities, Dana Stevens, film critic at Slate Magazine, has tweeted things like “Really sorry I read even that plot description of Human Centipede 2. Blergh.” and other jokes in an ensuing Twitter back-and-forth. What have been some of your favorite responses to the grossness that is “The Human Centipede 2?” Please comment below to share.