The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence] (2011)
By: Stuart Giesel on March 13, 2012  | 
IFC Films (USA) | Region A | 1.78:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Tom Six
Starring: Laurence R. Harvey, Ashlynn Yennie, Maddi Black, Kandace Caine
Screenplay: Tom Six
Country: Netherlands
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The Human Centipede [First Sequence], revolting central concept aside, was a remarkably restrained movie in terms of leaving most of the gross stuff up to viewers' imagination. This notorious sequel, however, leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. Every sickening moment is presented in graphic detail, and even the film's distinctive black and white cinematography fails to mute the overall effect. Still, you have to hand it to writer/director Tom Six -  he claimed that The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (hereafter known as HC2) would make the first film look like My Little Pony by comparison. This much is true. The claims that the third movie will make this film look like a Disney movie are, to put it bluntly, both impossible to believe and deeply troubling.

For those who missed the first film in Six's proposed trilogy, it revolved around unbalanced scientist Dr Heiter (Dieter Laser) who saw the fulfilment of his life's work in the creation of a human centipede - specifically, three people joined arse-to-mouth, with one digestive system. The film was promoted as being "100% medically accurate", as if anyone with a bit of medical know-how would be able to duplicate the centipede in real life. Well, the sequel plays on that. HC2 sees the events of the first film as just that - a film - being habitually watched by an obsessive, hobbit-sized, mentally challenged man named Martin (Laurence R Harvey) who works at a security desk in what is presumably London's least secure and populated parking garage. Martin is so consumed by the events of Centipede that he's planning to make his own in real life, but instead of three people he wants to use twelve. There's some backstory about how Martin was abused by his father at an early age, the results of which include dear old papa being sent to prison and mother wanting to kill both herself and Martin because of how much of a nightmare her life has turned into. But ultimately the film is in two distinct parts: the first being Martin's activities in the parking garage as he goes about unsubtly collecting specimens for his human centipede, and the second involving the creation of said centipede in a dingy warehouse. Unfortunately for Martin (and more unfortunately for the poor victims) he doesn't have any of the medical skills of Dr Heiter, so things get a tad messy.

There are two things going for this sequel. Instead of creating a bog-standard sequel which ups the ante of the original, director Six has cleverly framed the sequel around the conceit that the first film was a film, and the ugly events of HC2 is the "real world", and the gritty black and white cinematography emphasises this. Additionally, Six has found a wonderful lead in Laurence R Harvey, who has a terrific squat, toad-like presence and bug eyes that are truly suited to this sort of material. His performance is truly fearless and uncompromising (not taking away from the actors who make up the centipede and spend much of the movie naked and degraded). Martin has no lines to speak of in the movie, so he has to communicate through facial expressions and sounds which range from squeals of delight through to farting noises when he's urging his victims to move their bowels in the film's stomach-churning centrepiece (Six throws in a tiny bit of colour here as his homage to Schindler's List, though of course the colour brown replaces red).

Despite these components, there's not much more to HC2 than a procession of bloody, horrifying images accompanied by truly distressing sound effects. You might think the events of the first half are pretty horrifying, and they are (especially in the uncut version) but that's got nothing on the second half. Because there's only a shred of dialogue, the audience is left with only a series of disturbing images and sounds as Six cranks up the tension in this wholly unsettling scenario. There are scraps of very black humour throughout, but that's only temporary relief from the barrage of hideousness. So essentially it's perfect for a horror film buff who thinks he or she has seen it all, but it's a definite no-no for anyone who couldn't stomach the first film or who hasn't heard (let alone seen) other extreme cinema like Cannibal Holocaust, Salo, Martyrs or A Serbian Film.

Wowsers in Australia and the UK have decided that adults can't see HC2 in an uncut form - half of them probably never saw the film in the first place and only heard about its more controversial moments - but that's only resulted in the film gaining more publicity than it would have otherwise. In an age of digital streaming and downloading it seems like a pointless display of hand-wringing, because naturally more people will now be interested in seeing HC2 just to see what all the fuss is about. And, to be honest, the fuss is pretty unwarranted. HC2 is a grimy, nasty little film to be sure - any movie with amateur knee surgery, tooth-breaking, arse-stitching and rape is bound to stir controversy as Tom Six intended - but ultimately there's little else that will linger in the memory.

Director Tom Six has certainly one-upped the unique concept of the first Human Centipede and made a striking sequel in a purely visual sense, helped immeasurably by a strong and grotesquely memorable central performance by lead Laurence R Harvey. But despite its attempts at generating controversy, there's little else on offer other than a parade of unpleasantness.
The Human Centipede 2 was filmed in colour and converted to black and white in post, and the results are good if not breathtaking. Detail is nice, as is contrast, but there are some scenes that suffer quite badly from aliasing, most noticeably on the front bumper of a car in the parking garage. Not as sharp as one would expect, but it doesn't detract too much from the overall experience.
Audio is very strong and impactful. Dialogue is clear and the sound effects go a long way to creating an atmosphere of dread, surrounding the viewer with all sorts of horrifying effects - screams, cuts, splats, and the expelling of every sort of bodily fluid imaginable. I don't recall any music other than the thump-thump-thump of an annoying neighbour's sound system.
Extra Features
The Blu-Ray disc is pretty weak in terms of extras. The best feature by far is the audio commentary by writer/director Tom Six and star Laurence R Harvey. The commentary is chock-full of interesting information and behind-the-scenes stories. Both Six and Harvey make likeable and informed commentators, even if a lot of self-congratulating abounds.

Tom Six discusses the sequel and some of the controversy in Interview with Filmmaker Tom Six, as well as some information on the third Human Centipede. For some reason the interview is conducted with the camera practically shoved right into Six's face, making the entire session quite odd to look at. It's clear from his responses that Six is a passionate and talented filmmaker, so it'll be interesting to see what he does next once he gets the Centipede trilogy under his belt.

Set Tour of Warehouse gives a rundown on the film's primary shooting location. Foley Sound Effects shows how some of the icky sound effects were created. And Making The Poster is a look at how the unique and clever poster for HC2 was created. Honestly, all of these featurettes are pretty fricking dull.

There's a deleted scene (fairly pointless) and some trailers/promos - nothing to get excited about.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Definitely not a case of a sequel rehashing the first in a grander way, The Human Centipede 2 is in many ways a creative and bold move for writer/director Tom Six, even though he's lathered on a whole mess of controversial content just for the sake of it. Unfortunately, aside from all the wince-inducing gore and holy trifecta of shit, piss and puke, there's not much else of note apart from Laurence R Harvey's unique screen charisma. Definitely not one for the squeamish or anyone who is about to undertake any significant surgery.

Note that the Region A coded US Blu-Ray from IFC Films is the complete and uncut version of The Human Centipede 2, containing all the content that had been edited out for the Australian and UK releases.

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