The premise behind director Tom Six’s mad-scientist thriller The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is sure to make most people’s skin crawl. But, if you’re not like most people and have grown elephant balls watching films that depict torture and eye-socket rape, the idea of a surgeon sewing people together mouth-to-anus to form a human centipede may seem too outrageous to be frightening.
Relax. You’re in good hands.
Six does an impressive job of avoiding cheap torture-porn thrills and direct-to-DVD cheese. Once past the film’s sensational hook, the horror of being abducted—for whatever reasons—begins to set in. Humor is peppered throughout the story, but it is dark and organic, birthed from the insanity of the ordeal at hand. Before you know it, you too are being held captive for 90 minutes of white-knuckle anguish.
Lindsay and Jenny, played by Ashley C. Williams (a true find) and Ashlynn Yennie respectively, are American tourists in Germany. On their way to a party, their car gets a flat and strands them on a desolate backwoods road. Neither of the girls knows how to change a tire so they decide to walk through the woods in search of help.
While some may roll their eyes at the set-up, I think it’s effective in establishing the characters’ lack of resourcefulness—something that will cost them dearly when faced with a life-or-death situation. Besides, not everyone knows how to change a tire (don’t judge me).
The girls eventually stumble upon a secluded villa owned by Dr. Heiter, a retired surgeon specializing in the separation of conjoined twins. Dr. Heiter is played by German actor Dieter Laser (think Christopher Walken meets Anthony Perkins), who turns in what is sure to be one of horror’s most memorable villains.
The good doc looks the ladies over and invites them in, but only after making sure they’re alone. He offers them a roofie-laced beverage and can barely contain his eagerness to harm while attempting small talk.
When the girls awake, Dr. Heiter reveals his plan to join them, and a Japanese abductee named Katsuro, ass-to-mouth to form a human centipede. The doctor explains that this will only be possible through a surgical procedure that will fuse their gastric systems.
Once stripped and sewn together (boy-girl-girl), it’s only a matter of time before Katsuro has to take a shit … into Lindsay’s mouth. It’s the moment Dr. Heiter (and—just admit it—you) has been waiting for. “Feed her! Feed her,” he commands, pleased and titillated.
Lindsay, however, refuses to eat shit and die. Though stuck in the middle of Dr. Heiter’s human centipede, she orchestrates her final daring escape.
The Human Centipede took Best Picture honors at the 2009 Scream Fest LA Film Festival. The film also won awards for Best Horror Film and Best Horror Actor (Laser) at the 2009 Fantastic Fest.
The Human Centipede is available today on VOD (check your cable listings) and expands nationally for limited theatrical midnight showings on May 7.