Friday, October 31, 2014


I wrote about Human Centipede 2 back in late 2012 but I could never find a place for it on here so the piece just sat for almost two years to the point where I forgot about it. But with the upcoming release of Kevin Smith’s Tusk, the Human Centipede movies have popped back up on the radar as Tusk is clearly paying homage to that style of body modification horror and almost every critic is citing HC2 as a direct influence.
It’s also Halloween so now is the perfect to post this, otherwise it’ll sit on the shelf for another two years (side note – I have no immediate plans to see Tusk, but I was assured by my friend Chris Funderburg of the Pink Smoke that it was pretty good, so we’ll see…)

I know there's that curiosity to seek out totally messed up shit sometimes just because. This is why most people sought out the first Human Centipede movie. It’s a story about a crazy doctor who sews people together from their ass to their mouth. Its sounds stupid (and it is), but there’s something that just pulls you in. I had an interesting introduction to Human Centipede - The first time I saw the trailer was before a screening of Birdemic (one of those new-age cult movies that’s so bad it’s good) and like everyone else in the theater with me, I honestly thought it was a fake trailer at first. Upon learning that the trailer was in fact real, I knew Human Centipede would become a cult hit based on the subject matter alone. But I genuinely didn't think there would be a demand for a sequel (there’s actually a plan for a third one). Like...there's actually a legitimate demand for more Human Centipede movies and there’s a decent amount of non-kickstarter/indiegogo money behind it. And what’s extra perplexing & disheartening about it all is that even though there's an audience/demand for these stupid-ass movies, NO ONE takes them seriously even though I think director Tom Six wants us to. C'mon now, you know ANY time Human Centipede comes up in conversation people always have some kind of a sideways smirk on their face while discussing it. This ironic appreciation for Human Centipede has gotten out of hand. Why fuel a director to make more movies you know damn well are silly. Wasn’t the first one enough?

Human Centipede 2, which is kind of told in that "movie inside of a movie" style where some of the actors from the first film play themselves in the sequel (like in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), is about a demented parking lot attendant ("Martin") who has an unhealthy fascination with the first Human Centipede movie. In true Norman Bates fashion, Martin lives with his crazy mother, was molested by his father, gets picked on & beaten up by his upstairs neighbor and is the butt of every joke. But as it turns out, Martin is quietly planning to make his very own 12-person human centipede (influenced by the move he watches nonstop) as a way to get revenge on everyone & everything that’s been so cruel to him. I'm not gonna get in to any other interesting plot points or plot twists because there really are none. It’s basically about some lonely weirdo who takes a movie way too seriously and goes too far (...or does he?).
The tone of this Human Centipede film is drastically different from the first one. While the first Human Centipede was somewhat polarizing & colorful (I actually liked the look of the first one), Human Centipede 2 is black & white, darkly lit and “gritty” looking, which you would think should add to the twisted tone of the film, but it just makes it seem even more forced & clichéd.

Martin embodies what I imagine a genuine Human Centipede fan looks like (not someone who likes it ironically, but the kind of person that would describe Human Centipede as “Totally Awesome” and actually mean it). I mean, just look at him...

It’s almost like director Tom Six is making fun of his fanbase with the Martin character. At this point he has to know the kind of people that like his movies. I’m sure he's been to plenty of comic-con/slasher/gorefest conventions to know the type of people that make up a large portion of his fanbase .

If Human Centipede 2 was made by some angry spoiled violent teenager with a skewed sense of reality, then I'd kinda understand. But Tom Six is 40 years old. There’s no excuse for that. There was a period between the release of Inglorious Basterds & Django Unchained where it seemed like all the problems concerning violence on film was unfairly placed on the shoulders of Quentin Tarantino by folks who take cinema way too seriously (like me). I kinda understand as Tarantino is probably the most influential American  director of the last 20 years. That’s not necessarily a good thing (I certainly don’t like it) but it is what it is. His excessive & sometimes childlike use of violence can be seen in so many other knock-off movies. People look up to and emulate Tarantino which means unnecessary violence will be copied & emulated as well. But why was it just Tarantino getting all this heat? I’m certainly not someone who thinks we should blame violent movies for the problems going on in the world, but…if you do approach violence in an immature or childlike manner, you should kinda be called out on it at some point (this even applies to filmmakers that I love like Nicholas Winding Refn). Tarantino is catching all this flack while Tom Six is walking around planning a third Human Centipede movie. I think what’s in Human Centipede 2 is almost as bad as what's in Django & Inglorious Basterds. And you can’t say Six’s work isn’t relevant. In the last couple of years The Human Centipede has been referenced in pop culture through shows like South Park, Family Guy & The Simpson. Yes it’s true that Tarantino's films will be seen by a bigger audience but with Netflix instant & Internet buzz, it’s pretty easy to come across Human Centipede 2.

Like I said, I'm not really a fan of his anymore (which is putting it lightly) but if I was Tarantino I'd take the same "fuck you" attitude as he did in that video above. Part of me thinks that more & more some critics & journalists don’t like him anymore either (and there are plenty of reasons not too) but they don’t know exactly how to fully express their dislike so they throw him under the bus for reasons that are either out of his control or shouldn’t be laid all on him. It’s like when uneducated people didn’t like George W. Bush and they make that Hitler/Nazi comparison. There were plenty of legitimate factual reasons to hate Bush Jr. before calling him Hitler yet people didn’t do any basic research on him. Although Django has plenty of problems in the realm of violence, it really shouldn’t take so much heat with shit like Human Centipede 2 floating around virtually uncriticized.

I don’t wanna end this off on a totally negative note, so for those of you who are staying in on Halloween (sounds like an awesome idea to me) and are looking for something appropriate to watch, here’s a few suggestions that are either up on youtube (in multiple parts) or streaming online…

Ginger Snaps (Hulu+)
I avoided this movie for quite some time because the cover box art looked awful...

But at the advice of my former video store co-worker Patrick, I finally gave it a chance and it was surprisingly good.

Pontypool (Netflix Instant)
Although the story does borrow a few elements from The Thing (right down to the idea of a small group of people trapped inside a small space during a snow storm with the threat of an unknown virus-like threat taking over), this is still very entertaining and strangely surreal (towards the end) in a way that The Thing could never be.

Society (Youtube)
I’ve been pushing this movie on my friends over at the Schlock Treatment podcast because it really does fit their criteria in almost every way – schlocky (of course), tons of continuity errors, awful clothes, bad/awesome 80’s hair, tons of gore and it’s entertaining on multiple levels (there are some legitimately good parts in the movie but it’s also cheesy beyond belief). I truly believe this is the perfect Halloween get-together movie. There’s just the right amount of humor (some unintentional) mixed with blood & guts. Imagine early Cronenberg meets Polanski meets Baywatch…


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