Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Human Centipede Takes a Wrong Turn

I was a fan of The Human Centipede (First Sequence) and defended it against detractors. But the sequel, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011), is a disappointment.


The basic problem is that the sequel is just a gorier parody of the original. The original was not particularly gory at all, using wit and suggestion to evoke the horror of the deformed destructive being (DDB), which was a combination of a mad scientist and his creation, three people sewn together mouth to anus to form a single digestive tract. In the sequel, there is no mad scientist, just a mad parking attendant named Martin, who is obsessed with making a human centipede of his own after watching it done in the original movie.

Since Martin, unlike the original mad scientist, is not a surgeon, he conducts his surgery with ordinary household tools and a whack from a crowbar as an anesthetic. In the spirit of excess, he makes his human centipede with twelve people, not three. The movie is much gorier than the original, showing all the details of the homemade surgery, from knocking out teeth to stapling mouths to rear ends. (I saw the unrated version and don't know what this all looked like in other versions.) This is slightly comic, and frequently disgusting, but it is never horrific. There was more to fear in the original mad scientist's speech and diagram of how he would do the surgery than in watching it done.

Then there is Martin himself. Morbidly obese, he is not much of a pleasure to watch, especially because we often have to watch him naked or nearly naked. Again, this is not horrific, just unpleasant.

The movie is in black-and-white except for certain brown splats on the screen that indicate the digestive system of the human centipede is working. This type of joke would go well in a scatological teen comedy, but it seems out of place here.

George Ochoa
Author
Deformed and Destructive Beings: The Purpose of Horror Films

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