My interview with Tom Six, Dieter Laser and Laurence R. Harvey at Nuke the Fridge.
Shock value is not just a factor in horror movies. In fact, comedy tends to be a bigger genre for shock. However, to shock in a horror movie is a distinct sort of exercise, and I like the Human Centipede’s approach to pushing the shock factor as far as it could go. This is a genre in which we seek out shocking things, presumably, and I believe that is a healthy, cathartic exercise. But given that, the exercise becomes complicated after decades of graphic disemboweling, disgusting mutations and disturbing abuses. You can’t just get more graphic. You have to get more creative. Making a human centipede is actually a rather creative way to play on people’s fears of bodily violation and scatological disgust.
Of course, the original Human Centipede was hardly a centipede. Centipede means 100 feet, and there were only three people. That’s why it was only the First Sequence. The sequel grew the centipede exponentially, but still didn’t come close to 100 feet. But, since we’d already seen a head feed the rest of the centipede, the sequel needed more than just ass to mouth. Well, they removed the bandages so that it looked like the mouths were literally on the asses (I’d love to see that makeup artist’s demo reel), and throw in some sand paper masturbation, barbed wire sex and fetuses. You can’t accuse the sequel of repetition.
The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) is a prison movie, because what Shawshank Redemption really needed was more human centipeding. I do love the continuity of these movies. Human Centipede II was about a deranged fan of the first movie. Now the third part has Dieter Laser as the warden and Laurence R. Harvey as his assistant. They have both seen The Human Centipede movies too, and I’m actually surprised it takes them so long to think of the inevitable, but that’s dramatic build.
I did nitpick the 100 feet so this film finally answers that question. Where else but a prison could you find 50 victims, let alone 500? They should call it The Human Millipede, but then there are some other centipede offshoots even I couldn’t have predicted.
When the film is trying this hard to degrade human beings, it no longer even registers that they’re people with sense of shame and dignity. You just go to a level removed from the humanity and simply analyze the technique of degrading. Morality is moot at this point.
Sure, the blatant misogyny directed towards Bree Olson could be upsetting, but if they want me to be upset by that, I wouldn’t give them the power to upset me. I’m enlightened so I don’t agree with her portrayal, but she’s in on it. She accepted the role as a willing participant so it may even appeal to her as a cathartic visual essay on how she feels being ogled by a camera. When the film tries to degrade men, it looks funny. So yes, degrading women is still more disturbing than degrading men by virtue of it looks more genuinely degrading to the women. Maybe that’s on us. We’re just more used to seeing women degraded so it looks stranger when it’s men.
So as a treatise on commodified shock and degradation, Human Centpiede III passes the Franchise Fred test. It does continue the series tradition and take it to another level. I also don’t believe this is the final sequence. There will always be a bigger chain of ass to mouth and more meta ways to deconstruct the previous installments. Franchise Fred approves. See you at Human Millipede.