The Human Centipede [First Sequence] (2009)
By: Julian on November 20, 2010  | 
DVD
Monster Pictures | All Regions, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 88 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Tom Six
Starring: Dieter Laser, Ashley C Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura
Screenplay: Tom Six
Country: Netherlands
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
100% medically accurate!, The Human Centipede's cover slick proclaims. The UK Sun asks, "is this the sickest film ever made?" I have my doubts about the first statement, and the second statement can be answered resoundingly in the negative, but Dutch writer/director Tom Six's first horror feature The Human Centipede [First Sequence] is a pretty good film, its ingenuity making up for a sometimes-sluggish script and lacklustre performances.

The Human Centipede has received far more notoriety in the mainstream press than it deserves, so it's probably worth noting for this website's demographic (presumably, most have seen Cannibal Holocaust, and probably one or more of the Guinea Pig or August Underground movies) that nothing here is likely to shock or offend too much. All of the shocks are located in The Human Centipede's basic premise, and those who know the story generally also know the gross-out quotient Six tries to introduce.

For those who don't, here's a basic rundown: Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser, a poor man's Udo Kier) is a mad surgeon who has channelled his speciality, the separation of Siamese twins, into something extremely grisly: the conjoining of living beings. Dr Heiter has tried the experiment out on his three Rottweilers (note the hilarious tombstone) but he is raring to go on actual humans. Enter Lindsay (Ashley C Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), two New Yorkers backpacking in Germany, whose car has broken down not far from Dr Heiter's secluded abode. With the help of Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), Dr Heiter can create his 'human centipede', a three-person connection rendered liveable by its anus-to-mouth connection, allowing each person to feed via the digestive tract of the person before it (or, in Link #1's case, Dr Heiter's food given via a dog pan).

Obviously, then, The Human Centipede's selling point is Dr Heiter's creation. But, incredibly, the one-trick idea doesn't wear thin during its 92 minute duration. It's not even that this is a particularly good film to look at, or that the actors are particularly decent performers – The Human Centipede's main appeal is in Six's unashamed attempts to grab his audience by the throat and render them putty in his hands. Six will succeed with some, he'll fail with others, but the vein he taps into is pure exploitation cinema of the days of yore; quality of the film itself be damned.

Director Tom Six, who speaks eloquently in the supplementary interviews on this disc, gleefully outlines his plans for Part Two, 'The Full Sequence'. He eschews the tagline for this movie, '100% medically accurate' (a claim Six assures us is substantiated by having his father-in-law surgeon work on the film at its conceptual stages) and calls Part Two '100% medically inaccurate', and Six tantalises us with the claim that Part One will be My Little Pony by comparison. Colour us intrigued.
Video
The picture is presented in 16:9. It's fairly mediocre – there's not enough light in a lot of scenes, and a bit of grain here and there. It doesn't detract though – if anything, it might have the opposite effect on this seedy little number.
Audio
The English audio is presented in Dolby 2.0, and it sounds fine. English subtitles are burned in during scenes in which German or Japanese are spoken.
Extra Features
A decent set has been assembled here. There's a feature commentary and two interviews with Six (a 24-minute press interview and a 5-minute one for the DVD); a 22-minute Q&A session with Six and Laser; a 9-minute making-of featurette; a 5-minute clip of the set; a 2-minute video of the girls' casting process; a hysterical deleted scene running for just under a minute and a half wherein Dr Heiter does a little jig around his creation; and a theatrical trailer.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Nothing outstanding, but Six has created a spirited genre vehicle that delights (or wallows, depending on your predilections) in its deranged premise. In spite of its incredibly narrow scope, The Human Centipede defied expectations and entertained throughout. If nothing else, the idea that propels the film will surely cement Tom Six and The Human Centipede as modern genre icons.

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