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A brief discussion of The Human Centipede franchise, with opinions on the trailer of The Human Centipede 3: The Final Sequence

May 1, 2015

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When filmmakers push the envelope, test limits and do that which no one before them has done, we often call it art.  But when filmmakers push the envelope and then shove the contents of the envelope down your throat, it often loses its luster and shifts to an altogether different genre.  In horror, disturbing art joins the likes of Martyrs (2008), whereas the overkill gets sorted into a pile of shocky-schlocky exploitation movies.

In a recent podcast episode we had a discussion about the line between such “art” and crap.  Here’s what we discussed…

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Yeah….I’m somewhat hesitant to call it art.

The Human Centipede: The First Sequence (2009) was strongly marketed far before its release.  Not much was revealed about it, except for the–and pardon the expression I use here–but the “ass-to-mouth” theme being embraced by a German mad scientist.  At this point in cinematic history we have seen a lot of harsh, gritty movies…I Spit on Your Grave (2010; and the original), The Last House on the Left (1972, 2009), Cannibal Holocaust (1980), Salo (1975), Martyrs (2008), Inside (2007), the Cube and Hostel and Saw franchises were already upon us.  As a group of horror fans, we’ve become pretty hard to shock.  So, admittedly, creative filmmakers are left with little choice but to go to extremes to shock us.

This first film brought its three-man monstrosity intended as a piece of intense shock film art.  I’m not sure if it was art, nor would it bring pleasure to most viewers, but this film brought us something we had never seen before…something conceptually gross, disturbing and terrifying.  Making it more effective was how (as with Hostel) it was told through the perspective of the victims.  Dare I say it, but the victims’ experience was very well-acted.  Their sympathy, horror and suffering were palpable.  What little nudity there was never felt exploitative; rather it revealed vulnerability.  It was very effective and there was very little gore or violence.  In a strange way, this distasteful film was done…tastefully?  No pun intended.

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To quote my podcasting comrade, John Lasavath: “There’s a good chance this movie wasn’t made for you.”

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The Human Centipede 2: The Full Sequence (2011) followed suit with the marketing campaign of the first.  Tom Sixx boasted that this human centipede would be much, much bigger, and it was!  But more isn’t always better, Tom.  We grew from 3 to 12 segments (i.e., victims) and our assembling amateur scientist was far more grotesque than his predecessor.

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In this sequel, The Human Centipede: The First Sequence (2009) exists as a movie “in the movie,” making this something of a metamovie.  A mentally retarded, severely disturbed and abused man obsessed with Tom Sixx’s movie takes it as medical canon and pursues his own dreams of a bigger, better human centipede.  This sequel (again, now as with Hostel 2) presents its story through the mad scientist’s perspective.

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Contrasting the original, this sequel had a lot of gore and violence and the nudity felt less organic and more on the side of exploitative…everything felt more that way.  This film was just “more” of what we saw before, viewed through a sicker and more gritty lens.  It absolutely wasn’t necessary to bring us this film, but it still continued its story in a different way that felt like more than a simplistic rehashing of its precursor.

The Human Centipede 3: The Final Sequence (2015)…  Thank God for this being the “final” sequence.  I don’t think I could handle another.  Watch the trailer and gather your thoughts…

So now you’ve seen it, in all it’s Grindhouse awfulness.  How many victims does it take to shock us now?  500!!!  The shit has hit the fan and disturbed a butterfly, that butterfly flew off and landed on the nose of a yak which sneezes and causes a yak stampede quaking the nearby mountains to the point of a Himalayan avalanche leading to an irregular cooling and transpiration event as all the snow melts at lower altitudes causing a huge storm…and that storm rains yak shit on all who view this movie!

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This is a bad movie that was made bad on purpose.  The previous two films were told with a straight face.  This third film is the Sharknado of Human Centipedes.

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