The Human Centipede has a notoriety that far outweighs its modest viewership. Folks are okay with the idea of three people getting sewn ass-to-mouth, but it’s the rare weirdo that actually wouldn’t mind seeing it. I am that weirdo.
Tagline: 100% medically accurate
More Accurate Tagline: 100% medically accurate. In Germany.
Guilty Party: Writer/Director/Producer/Dutchman Tom Six. Of course he’s Dutch. Anyway, Six originally conceived of the idea for The Human Centipede while thinking up good punishments for child molesters. Instead of working in his home country of the Netherlands to render this innovative comeuppance into law, he has instead decided to molest our souls.
Synopsis: We open on a highway, where a weird guy (Dieter Laser, looking like a half-finished clone of Christopher Walken) is masturbating to a picture of some rottweilers, so right away we’re off to a classy start. A truck pulls right in behind him and a fat trucker gets out with a roll of TP. He staggers off into the woods to take a dump, while Dieter Laser follows him with a rifle. This raises a couple questions. If you were going to take a dump in the woods, wouldn’t you look for a more deserted spot? You probably wouldn’t pull in right behind another car. Unless, of course, this section of the woods is where truckers go to poop in some kind of terrifying gay rendezvous. Well, this is Germany, after all.
Oh yeah, this takes place in Germany. Explains a lot, right?
The film shifts gears to be with Jenny and Lindsay, a couple of American tourists who are getting ready for a party. They look like strippers, right down to the crushing sadness in their eyes. They promptly get lost in the Black Forest, because apparently the party was taking place in near a gingerbread house with the Big Bad Wolf. It starts to rain, but lucky for them, they find a house.
Dieter Laser’s house. He invites them in, pretends to call them a cab, then gets them some rufie water. One girl drinks, the other spills it. I honestly don’t know which one is Lindsay and which one is Jenny, even after two viewings. Sadly, I mostly identify them as B and C based on their places in the centipede. Anyway, C is the one that got the full dose, and while B is confused about why her friend looks the way she did on spring break when she banged Chico State’s junior varsity water polo team on the top of that pinball machine. Dieter Laser helpfully explains that he gave the friend “the rape drug.” This is how he puts it. “The rape drug.” Gotta love the Germans. I like to think they have hundreds of different words for rape, like Eskimos do for snow.
After subduing the girls, he straps them to a couple hospital beds downstairs. They wake up, and in the first bed is the pooping trucker from the first reel. Dieter Laser explains that the guy “doesn’t match” and kills him. Then he goes out and fetches a Japanese guy. Seriously, Laser leaves and returns with an unconscious Japanese dude (who later proves to speak not a word of English or German, begging the question about what the fuck he was doing in Germany) over his shoulder. This guy matches.
And then the insanity begins. Dieter Laser helpfully explains to them that he was at one time the foremost authority in separating conjoined twins, which he refers to repeatedly as Siamese. I guess I shouldn’t pillory him for being politically incorrect since that’s pretty much the least of his crimes. He wants to create what he calls a Siamese triplet by sewing three people ass-to-mouth. Ignoring the obvious answer (“Because I’m fucking crazy!”), one girl asks why Dieter Laser wants to do this. He exposits that he did it to his three dogs and they died, so it’s time to move on to human beings, revealing that he’s a) completely insane and b) fuzzy on the reasons behind animal testing. Also, the girl finds this to be an acceptable answer. Like, “yeah, totally, you sewed three dogs ass-to-mouth, you gotta try it with people! Otherwise, what’s the point?” Forgetting, of course, to ask why the fuck he sewed three dogs like that in the first place.
One of the girls escapes. Dieter Laser tracks her down, but only once he’s fetched his aviator shades. For his trouble, he promises that she’ll be the middle piece, or B, which is the worst one. Then he makes the centipede. The Japanese guy, who doesn’t speak a word of English or German (yet seems convinced that everyone secretly understands Japanese and just pretends they don’t to be dicks), is A, the front of the centipede. The girls are B and C. Dieter Laser then attempts to train the centipede, which proves difficult. He should have picked a book up at Petco or something. While out on the lawn one day, A needs to poop. He’s conflicted about this, since it’ll go right down B’s throat. He turns around and is like “I’m so sorry.” Because when you shit in someone’s mouth, there’s really only two things you can say. “I’m so sorry,” or “This is gonna cost you double.” Dieter Laser is super psyched about this, because he’s German.
Here’s one thing you really need to understand: if you go to Germany, one way or another, you will eat poop. It’s just how they roll.
Right around here, Dieter Laser gives the centipede a checkup. Wonder of wonders, B and C aren’t doing very well. Who knew eating shit was a bad idea? Oh yeah, that’d be everyone ever since the beginning of time. C is definitely dying, because if there’s one thing less healthy than eating poop, it’s eating double-poop.
That’s when the cops show up. It’s important to note that one of them looks a lot like Michael McDonald.
They’re nosing around because someone heard “American girls screaming” on Dieter Laser’s property. Laser stonewalls the cops, in an amazing scene I’ll discuss later. They scurry off to fetch a search warrant, while Dieter Laser goes to check on the centipede. Problem is, he’s misplaced it. Where? Who knows? It’s never clear how the centipede got off the table they were on, let alone managed to hide. The centipede ambushes Dieter Laser by shanking him in the foot with a scalpel. Dieter Laser falls, and showing the kind of poor judgment that got him into this situation, A drops the blade and bites Dieter Laser on the neck. He doesn’t finish the sick fucker off because… actually there’s literally no reason why he shouldn’t stab Laser until he’s just a pile of pork confetti. Instead, the centipede tries to escape, but it’s fruitless. A crawling Dieter Laser catches up to them in the bedroom.
This is when A completes his transformation into the most useless asshole in the history of cinema, no pun intended. Dropping the giant, heavy, bludgeony lamp he just used to break a window, he picks up a tiny piece of glass. Deciding that the movie was starting to make a glimmer of sense, A takes the time to relate his origin story, once again assuming everyone speaks Japanese. Then he slashes his own throat. This means that B is stuck with a dead guy sewed to her face and filling her throat with his final death poop. Is Death Poop the name of a metal band? It should be, with umlauts over the A and second O. Their first single could be called Rectal Megiddo.
The cops come back, and they kill Dieter Laser but not before he takes them both out. Then, in the other room, C dies. So B winds up with two dead people sewn to either end A’s ass in her face, C’s face in her ass. So it’s a feel good movie.
Life-Changing Subtext: When life gives you poop, make poop juice.
Defining Quote: Dieter Laser: “Do you already regret your little escape? In fact, I’m thankful for it, because now… I know definitely you are the middle piece!” This is pretty much the most horrifying thing ever said to anyone ever.
My favorite quote occurs when Dieter Laser explains the procedure. The Japanese guy freaks out and screams: “The Japanese possess unbelievable strength when backed into a corner!” I think that Roosevelt proved that statement false.
Standout Performance: Dieter Laser as Dr… fuck it. I never bothered to learn the doctor’s name. Why? Because the actor’s name is Dieter Fucking Laser. First off, that’s what a supervillain is named. If this guy ever hooks up with Olivier Megaton, shit will definitely get real. Secondly, Dieter Laser looks like Lance Henriksen wearing an Armand Assante mask. And lastly, Laser never forgets to remind you that his character is completely insane. When we spend time in the reality of a film, we will forget the rules of the real world in favor of the rules of the film world. So it’s like we always lived in a world with human centipedes (that really sounds like a line from the trailer). If, at any point, you forget that Laser’s character is a nutjob he does something to remind you, like drinking ass blood or trying to rufie cops.
What’s Wrong: I initially argued with Mrs. Supermarket over whether this movie was Yakmala or not. This is not because I found most of it to be hilarious. It’s because I thought the hilarity was intentional. What finally convinced me: stairs.
That’s right, stairs.
See, Dieter Laser’s house is two stories. He keeps his human centipede accoutrements in the basement and his living quarters upstairs. The only access between stories is a spiral staircase. At several points in the film, the centipede is shown upstairs, then downstairs, then upstairs. Yet in the end of the movie, it’s a plot point that the centipede can barely make it up the stairs. It involves tearing. And ass blood. Which Dieter Laser drinks. So what the hell? Why was this not a problem earlier? The stairs, not the ass-blood drinking. That’s always wrong.
That said, the film seriously slows down in the second half hour, which, ironically enough, is when the centipede is… built? Made? Is there even a word in English for this?
Flash of Competence: There are a few genuinely disturbing scenes, which is a necessity for a biological horror film like this one. Say what you will, but being the weeping center of a corpse pierogi is pretty messed up.
Best Scenes: When the girls’ car blows out a tire and they show bizarre reluctance to drive on a rental’s flat, another car happens by. The driver: a Torgo. He sexually harasses them a little in German, which they only figure out after they find the word for “fuck” in their German/English phrasebook. What the hell kind of phrasebook did they have? Conversational German for Skanks? Anyway, the German guy drives off, never to appear again, presumably to be the villain in the Eli Roth movie shooting down the road.
When the two girls, B and C, show up at Dieter Laser’s house, the first of his excellent acting choices occurs. Dieter Laser looks annoyed that he was interrupted. You’d think that a mad scientist intent on sewing three people together would be psyched when two people randomly showed up at his house. Not Dr. Laser. I like to think it was because he was watching Lost and just got to the part where Jack says, “We have to go back!” No one wants to stop watching after that, even if the back two-thirds of your centipede shows up.
Dieter Laser feels the need to explain to the three folks who will become the centipede exactly what will happen to them (as it turns out, nothing good). Here’s the funny part: Dieter Laser uses an overhead projector like the kind we used to have in algebra class. Only instead of explaining integers, he’s talking about removing the anus in preparation for ass-sewing. Also, the transparencies are really shoddy. It’s important to mention at this point some of the art this horrorshow has on his wall. Every single thing is a depiction of surgery on conjoined twins. You’d think that he could have gotten one of the artists who painted those upstairs to do the transparencies. It’s not like the guy has a lot of clients! Seriously, Dieter Laser, you only make a human centipede once. Make it an experience for them as well as you.
Transcendent Moment: The questioning with the cops is one of the strangest reactions to law enforcement I’ve ever seen. Granted, Dieter Laser is insane (and this scene reminds us of this, over and over and over again), but seriously, it was like he was trying to get caught.
So the cops show up, and what’s the first thing they see? That’s right, those abortions on the wall that Dieter Laser calls art. Actually, it’s possible he called them nightmare fuel, but who knows what goes on in his head. This brings me to a discussion of probable cause, which is something they apparently do not have in Germany. I’m guessing this is because they’ve had bad experiences with powerful police forces. Anyway, the cops talk to Dieter Laser, and of course he’s a total weirdo because he’s the kind of man who sews people ass-to-mouth. Dieter Laser offers the cops a drink, because, hey, Human Millipede. They ask for coffee and he yells at them. He yells at cops. He then offers them water, which he promptly drugs.
Michael McDonald doesn’t drink the water, instead questioning Dieter Laser about the American girls someone heard screaming on his property. This pisses Laser off something fierce and he alternates between stonewalling and screaming at the cop to drink his water. It’s called probable fucking cause. An LA cop would already be sprinkling Laser’s bleeding corpse with crack and child pornography.
Anyway, Dieter Laser then drops the giant syringe he’s been hiding behind his back. I’m not sure what these cops are waiting for him to do. At this point, he could bring out the centipede, explain that these were the American girls, but they’re not screaming anymore, so everything must be fine. The cops would totally be cool with it. Dieter Laser hastily lies that the syringe is for his diabetes. Right. He couldn’t be less convincing had he claimed it was to treat his case of mobile priapism (look it up).
Michael McDonald is a little yah mo suspicious, and vows to return in twenty minutes with a search warrant. Since it won’t explicitly say “human centipede” on it, I’m pretty sure Dieter Laser is totally clear under German law.
A little fun fact for you all: this movie is actually called The Human Centipede (First Sequence). This is because there’s a sequel. My mind is spinning with questions. Dieter Laser was killed! Well, his character, I think they let the actor live. But this means he doesn’t make the next human centipede! Who does it? My guess: Martha Stewart.