“I Finally Watched Human Centipede” -OR- “[Insert Ass-to-Mouth Joke Here]”

HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE) (2009)
There’s a reason it’s taken me awhile to sit down and say what I wanted to about Human Centipede (First Sequence). For one thing,  writing about it means thinking about it, and thinking about it means…well, THINKING ABOUT IT. Secondly, I have a complicated relationship with this movie, which begins when some friends and I saw it as the trailer attached to Kick-Ass. (I have a complicated history with it as well.) The opening of the trailer gives immediate indication that it is a preview for something of the “thriller/horror/parody of either” persuasion: Rainy night. Pretty girls. Broke-down car. Seeking refuge from a stranger. This all looks familiar enough. But then…something begins to change.

"...so lonely, I am. If only I had some visitors to turn into ze monsta'."

Cut by cut the trailer is breaking down the story for me. (But this can’t be what the WHOLE movie is about, can it? This is just one of many atrocities the movie has to offer, right? Like a Saw trap; there’s probably more crazy torture coming and they’re just showing us the most inventive and revolting in the trailer…Please tell me I’m right.) But it’s true – HC is a whole movie about THIS; this concept that someone actually sculpted into an entire screenplay. A screenplay that was directed by someone whose nine-to-five job was living in this world…someone with a mother, no doubt! A movie featuring actors (each with their own mother, let’s not forget) who were happy enough to add a starring indie role to their resume, even if it meant having to explain said big break to their families and showing up to premiers where afterwards people ask, “now, were you the middle one or the back one?” A movie in which a mad German doctor abducts subjects for his “ultimate” experiment.  MAKING a Siamese triplet!

The story, or as much as I can stomach telling you, goes like this: Two girls, lost and broke down abroad, find their way to a house on a dark rainy night. Their host seems happy they’ve arrived, like he’s been waiting for them his whole life. “What luck!” his face seems to say. [Now, let’s pause here for some quick advice: If your car breaks down and you find your way to the door of a man looking like the one above, with slicked back hair, and sporting a thick German accent, just move along to the next house. Even if it’s five miles away. However, if you are so stupid as to enter, and you see gigantic living-room wall art depicting conjoined fetuses, don’t come crawling to me on 12 legs crying that he roofied your drink.]

"I see a raw uncooked turkey. You?" "I see an awkward conversation with my parents about taking this role."

This particular host is an ex- (we can only assume why “ex-“) surgeon who was once at the top of his field (which we infer is separating conjoined twins). In fact, he’s so obsessed with conjoined-ation(?) that he’s already conducted one experiment on his dog….er dogs…er, tri-dog. We know this because he sadly carries around a snapshot of his late, beloved, K9x3.

The man knows a Kodak moment when he sees one.

So his NEW up-the-ante experiment is conjoined human triplets…but not connected hip to hip, or even head to head. Think about it. Don’t make me say it. Christ, how can you not have heard at least THIS much about HC, that I have to come out and say it?

ASS-TO-MOUTH-TO-ASS-TO-MOUTH-TO-ASS! One mouth, one butt, three people! There! Satisfied!?

Remember, I garnered almost all of the above from the TRAILER, in which Dr. A-t-M informs his victims, who are tied to gurneys, of their fate with the help of a dry erase marker and an overhead projector. High school biology was never like this! (…holy shit, that’s an awesome tag line for this movie.)

"I'm not much of a arteest, but trust me -- a magician with zee scalpel!"

A few fleeting minutes of unsavory visual bursts later, the trailer is over and if you’re a NORMAL person, you’re a little unnerved. By a trailer! By the context! By all that it implies! My immediate reaction was to turn to my movie-going companions and say something like “i wouldn’t watch that with a loaded gun in my face.” It reminded of me of what the trailer for Mommy, Dearest did to me when my dad took the six-year-old version of me to see Popeye. What it did to my childhood!

Despite the douche bag in our party who “can’t wait to see it” I was relieved when the preview for some dumb-ass comedy came next to help push away the memory of what I’d just seen…what I’d been made to think about. But I knew it would take nothing less than a full-length feature to scrub away the memory (too bad it had to be Kick-Ass). Unfortunately, the preview for HC was the first thing we started talking about as soon as we left the theater (which should probably tell you a little about Kick-Ass). But I stood my ground. I’ll watch a lot, but I won’t watch people surgically forced to ____ into someone’s ____.  See? I can’t even say it.

Yes. The movie goes THERE.

Well, it turns out the guy in our party who REALLY wanted to see HC wasn’t even a horror fan and was kind of a douche to boot. Having already suspected his douchiness I wondered, if he can take it, so can I. Right? Then it just became this topic that came up from time to time. I waffled. I wondered. I downloaded it. I told people they could watch it at my place and we’d experience it together, like that would have made it more …fun? I talked to people who’d seen it. I’d pretty much let the movie’s main conceit fizzle away into an abstraction in my subconscious. And then finally, I watched it at home alone.

As I had originally suspected I left the experience wishing I could get my hands on some Silkwood-style wire brushes to scrub away the lingering afterthoughts from my horror-ready, yet still rather sensitive, brain.

What's got 3 heads, 12 legs, and is hiding under this sheet?

To anyone who’s said this movie isn’t as gross as you’d think: you should have your imagination checked for blown fuses or shorted wires. I don’t have to SEE “2 girls/1 cup” to know that I don’t want to see it. I guess what these “isn’t-as-gross-as-you-think” people meant is that a lot of the gore is implied. To that I say: so what?! Am I still aware that that poor girl’s jaw is being removed so that it makes it easier to attach her face to her friend’s hinder? Yup. Am I still aware of the price the girls are going to pay when the starved “head” of the centipede (the third victim of Dr. A-t-M, a young Chinese man who speaks in subtitles only) starts scarfing down food? Yup.  I don’t need to see shit or knives gouging skin to know that there is shit present and the gouging of skin going on. Gore might have actually softened some of the lingering ick-factor from the HC experience because when there are blood and guts flying around, it kinda’ helps you get into the spirit of things. It helps reinforce the “it’s-only-a-movie” wall you’ve built around your psyche which allows you to enjoy things like David Cronenberg movies and crazy shit like HC.

"Wmmmphhfff?!"

All of that said, you may be shocked to hear me say that HC is not a bad movie. It looks sharp, is competently directed, acted, and paced –and really, when you think about it, it’s a fairly unique take on the old “mad scientist” movie. So kudos for all of that I guess. But a well-made movie does not necessarily rate a Facebook “like” from me. This is not a recommendation. I recognize that the first Lord of the Rings is an amazing technological and artistic feat that (probably?) does right by its literary source material, but that didn’t keep me from seeing it and knowing immediately that I would never see it again or any of its sequels ever. HC, for its part, is at least an engaging experience, insofar that you WILL be paying attention to what is going on. It’s not even the most offensive movie I’ve seen this year. (That honor goes to the appalling Dead Girl which I’ll review soon) but I don’t ever want to watch HC again. Please don’t make me.  I don’t want my mind to revisit those places. I don’t want to to think about those things again. And now that I’ve finally written this all down, I guess I won’t have to. *cleansing sigh*

"Before I turn you into ze monsta', first I share mein secret gingerbread man recipe."

Of course, you may have noticed the cheeky “(First Sequence)” part of the title which, natch, implies sequels. But you know what they say: Make me watch a human-ass-to-mouth-freak-show once, shame on you. Make me watch a human-ass-to-mouth-freakshow twice, shame on me.

For freaking out friends, ending bad dates, or sending lingering relatives home: ***
For all other movie-watching circumstances: ** – two out of four stars

~ by willnepper on March 29, 2011.

3 Responses to ““I Finally Watched Human Centipede” -OR- “[Insert Ass-to-Mouth Joke Here]””

  1. Another great review Will. I love the douche references.

  2. I think I approach this movie same as you. Our takes (even without seeing) are decidedly similar. I learned what 2 Girls/1 Cup was & said, I don’t even need to go there.

  3. Utterly indited subject material , Really enjoyed reading through .

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