I watched The Avengers again last night. It was still fantastic. Today’s film, on the other hand, not so much.
You guys owe me one.
A mentally disturbed man named Martin has become obsessed with the movie The Human Centipede, to the point where he wants to recreate the medical marvel himself in a dirty warehouse in London. There is one big flaw in his plan though: he’s not a doctor, he’s a car-park attendant.
Last June I wrote a piece about the BBFC’s decision to deny a certificate to Tom Six’s Human Centipede 2. In his press release at the time, director of the Board David Cooke said “It is the Board’s view that there is a genuine risk that this video work … may be considered obscene within the terms of the OPA” The OPA is the Obscene Publications Act, the British statute that prevents distribution of hard-core and extreme pornography. Their justification for the denial was based on the pervading focus of the film on the character of Martin and his sexual obsession with Six’s first film and the sexual violence he perpetrates on both himself and his victims. The implication was that a few cuts weren’t going to do the trick; this film would be essentially unseeable in the UK. Imagine my surprise when exactly four months later, the BBFC had reconsidered their decision after Six had submitted a new edit to the Board, minus about two and a half minutes of footage. It would be wrong to imply any sort of set-up, but there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I had thought about doing another article at the time all about the turnover, but I decided to wait until I had actually seen the film so that I could give my comments some context. Well, friends, that time has come. You know what? I really wish I hadn’t bothered.
This film is bad. The script is bad, the acting is bad, the camerawork is bad… everything about this just screams “cheap and nasty”. The only potential redeeming feature is the germ of the idea itself – the self-referential aspect – but even that is wasted by the ham-fisted execution. Wes Craven ran with that ball so much better in his New Nightmare. If I didn’t know better, I would have guessed that this film had nothing to do with Tom Six at all. That it was a knock-off made by a couple of sick-fuck amateurs who were channelling their own obsession with The Human Centipede into an endeavour only slightly less repulsive than doing it for real. It seems like the filmmakers are trying to recreate what they expect a snuff film to look like; everything is covered in a sheen of grime and decay that just doesn’t exist in the real world.
As I said when I reviewed it last year (this site’s first review, by the way) the original Human Centipede was actually an effective low-budget horror film that showed some restraint when it came to the graphic nature of the events depicted. Just like all the best classic horror, it relied more on your imagination to conjure up what was really frightening, and it was helped no end by a fantastic central performance by Dieter Laser as the mad surgeon Dr Heiter. In part 2, Six shows what he thinks of the gorehound fans who demanded more. He gives them themselves, in the rotund shape of Martin, and shows them exactly what he thinks they wanted to see: an ever-escalating torrent of filth, violence and degradation. Unfortunately he does it so ineptly and with such a cop-out of an ending that all the film seems to amount to is a half-hearted “fuck you” to the people who made his first film the success that it was. Any grander message he was trying to get across is just lost in the noise.
I think the BBFC were being polite when they gave their reasons for the certificate denial. They weren’t banning this because it was shocking and obscene, they were banning it because it was a boring mess and not worth spending any time or money on. They were banning it because it was shit. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for Pingu.