What Did You Expect?: 'The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)'

Six is playing it smart...Instead of trying to rewrite history or reverse the condemnation, he's purposefully playing into the hands of the hysterics.

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

Director: Tom Six
Cast: Laurence R. Harvey, Ashlynn Yennie, Maddi Black, Vivien Bridson, Bill Hutchens
Rated: R
Studio: IFC
Year: 2011
US date: 2011-10-07 (Limited release)

He must have been raised by reprobate, absentee or angry parents with hatred toward normal society. He was probably abused as a child, the beneficiary of another's disturbing lust. He's a sick, twisted f*ck who needs psychological counseling. Beyond the basics, he probably tortured and tormented his actors on set, lying about the purpose of the picture to get them to do disgusting things. The resulting movie, as a result, was nothing more than a psycho subjecting his victims to humiliation and harm before stitching them together. Overall, it's an unwatchable atrocity loaded with graphic violence, bloodshed, and shit, made by someone who will only encourage a wealth of wanton imitators. Any sequel he creates will probably be so horrific and nauseating that it should inspire protests, not praise.

That's the charge - and for his part, writer/director Tom Six stands visibly accused. So what, exactly, did he decide to do when he crafted this latest installment in the Human Centipede series (subtitled "Full Sequence")? Well, he bought into each and every one of the aforementioned accusations and created a movie that matched, or surpassed them all. Indeed, this incredibly disgusting follow-up forces one to question their own tolerances toward humiliation and bodily fluids, fueled by a performance so peculiar, so intriguing in both its origins and eventual originality that it more than makes up for the offal around it.

Someone named Laurence Harvey is Martin, a pudgy, uncomfortable asthmatic Englishman who works as a parking garage attendant. He is obsessed with the movie The Human Centipede, watching it over and over again and going to so far as to keep one of the insects as his pets and filling a scrapbook with his desire to duplicate the plotline. The only difference is that Martin isn't going for a mere three victims. His goal is to create a full sequence of twelve.

As he picks off potential 'participants' with a hand gun and a tire iron, he must battle his angry mother (Vivien Bridson) and the pedophilic Dr. Sebring (Bill Hutchens) who believes he can 'cure' him. They are afraid of what Martin might do since it's suggested that he was sexually abused by his now imprisoned father. Once our round, redolent hero puts his passion into action, their worst fears will be realized...or will they?

The Human Centipede II is hardly a winning experience. It wallows in misery so unapologetically that it makes you feel filthy just being in the same room with it. But there is clearly a method to Six's madness, a responsorial design which sees the storyline skirt anything remotely bordering on characterization or complexity to deliver what critics and pundits have argued about since the first film. Indeed, if taken at face value, the movie is a mean spirited, misguided affront. It favors shock and unsavory suggestion for anything remotely resembling art or artistic ambition.

Dig a bit deeper, however, and you can see Six purposefully acquiescing to every allegation leveled at him. He is making the movie everyone said he made the first time around, destroying their already off base arguments in the process. Like Eli Roth, who found a unique way to approach the next in what appears to be a franchise of Hostel films (his answer? remake the original with girls instead of guys), Six is playing it smart, adding a gallon or two of high octane gasoline to what it bound to be a firestorm of hate for his about to be condemned creation. Instead of trying to rewrite history or reverse the condemnation, he's purposefully playing into the hands of the hysterics.

Of course, they have something legitimate to gripe about. The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is a frequently squalid and undeniably disturbing effort. It turns Harvey into a legitimate human oddity, his bulbous figure and sweaty wheezing adding to the overall effect. Martin, to quote Soft Cell, is indeed a boy with problems. His inferred backstory (including one twisted aural flashback) is enough to get you on the couch for a couple of years - and you're just a viewer. His mannerisms, on the other hand, range from the pathetic to the deranged...and Six is going to show us every sandpaper peculiarity in between.

More upsetting, however, is the lack of compassion on display. Everyone, from Martin to his sometimes nameless targets, are cruel and heartless. They have sex in parking lots, beat up old women, stumble home drunk from constantly clubbing, and treat anyone who dare dampen their hedonism with direct disrespect. That they end up stapled together (literally) as part of some sick psycho's fantasy is a kind of backwards justice, a punishment for playing fast and loose with their treatment of others. None of this legitimizes Martin's responses. Even with a childhood seemingly swimming in pedophilia, his freakshow fascination with Six's original film is destined to produce disturbing fruit.

From a filmmaking standpoint, the movie looks very good. In order to push the envelope, Six decided to make the movie in black and white. It ends up delivering some very stark and sometimes surreal imagery. Martin, frequently naked with his puffy persona dripping disease, is even further distanced by the lack of correct color. Of course, no viewer could sit through the shit and slit ending if it were offered in vibrant Cinemascope. The lack of tints doesn't dismantle the power of Six's suspect imagination, however. Whatever restraint he showed the first time around is now unhealthy and unleashed. You don't enjoy a film like The Human Centipede II as much as endure it, the end result being nothing more than a bragging point on your aesthetic resume.

And don't worry - Six is coming back with one final film in the franchise, something he swears will make The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) look like "a trip to Disneyland" by comparison. Where he can take the concept is questionable. The original was just a horror extrapolation on an utterly insane idea. This movie is a meta-manipulative response. Contemplating the possibilities becomes an exercise in ick. Even with the ass to mouth basics, Six seems capable of creating another novelty. For all the accusations that arrived when Dr. Heiter fist made his medical atrocity known, Martin's work is far more troubling. He's everything envisioned by those who hated what they saw initially. The Human Centipede II only makes matters worse. Much worse.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.