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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
There are more low-budget independent Horror Thriller movies out there than I have the life-span to watch, even if I live to be 120 (which, amazingly enough, I will).
So I can't authoritatively say that someone else hasn't tried a movie like this. I can say that I'm stunned by how well this movie is made.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE begins with a man sitting in a car parked off to the side of a feeder road next to a busy highway. He sits there, lovingly gazing at a photograph of three dogs, two with their faces pushed into the ass of the dog in front of it.
A truck driver (Rene De Wit) pulls up behind the man in the car, and hurries into the woods with a roll of toilet paper. The man in the car follows behind and merry mishaps occur.
Soon a pair of American tourist gals are looking for a club in which to par-tay!
But they take a back road, get lost, wander through the woods, you know the drill, and wind up asking for help from the guy in the car. At this point, we discover that the guy is a retired physician named Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser: DIE LETZTEN FERIEN, RECYCLED). He spent his career becoming a brilliant, respected, much lauded, surgeon.
As we and the girls discover, however, there is something decidedly creepy about Dr. Heiter. But by the time the two friends, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) figure out that NOW is a good time to leave, the doctor has them under his power.
When they wake, they find themselves strapped to beds in a dimly lit white room. The truck driver is with them and hears the news that he isn't a good tissue match. This results in the truck driver's death and alerts the friends to just how bad a mess they are really in.
Soon the truck driver is replaced by another man, an Asian named Katsuro (Actor, Writer, Director Akihiro Kitamura: I'LL BE THERE WITH YOU) who cannot speak English or German. It is now that Dr. Heiter unveils his plan. He has spent his life successfully separating people - Siamese twins - into two living persons. Bored with success, he is trying something new, something he has only attempted on animals before. He intends to join the three people into one life form: A human centipede where the new animal shares three bodies but surgically only one gastric organ.
The first one, the man, is the eater. The second or middle one, is the digester, and the last one is the expeller of waste. The downshot of this means that, for the two women, their jawbones and teeth will be removed and their mouths will become surgically attached to the rectum of the person in front of them. To the man and one of the women, their rectums will be removed so that their fecal matter will pass unhindered from the colon of one and into the mouth of the other. It will be a lot of hard, strenuous work for the doctor to do all of this surgery and make it work, but he is up to the task.
The same, of course, cannot be said for his three unwilling patients.
So yeah, we're in firm mad German doctor territory. Only instead of bringing the dead back to life, or transplanting brains, or making an army of radioactive mutants, or Cthulhu knows what else mad doctors have been doing in movies*, Dr. Heiter does this!
Now, if you can believe it, here is the extraordinary thing about THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. Writer and Director Tom Six could have easily made this movie a lurid, over the top, campy, poorly directed and acted bit of common Euro or American or Asian Exploitation cinema. Certainly any other director any where else, who so desired to make such a film would have taken that lazy route. But Tom wanted to make THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE feel real. Which means he didn't want to do anything to make the audience pull away from the film, to retreat to a safe place of disgust or fatigue or campy humor.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, handling one of the most gross-out of concepts imaginable (and I've seen NEKROMANTIK) goes easy on the gore, never allowing the audience to get used (or numb) to the idea of any of it, including scenes revealing the natural progression that would follow on the heels of such an idea, successfully executed.
So instead of the movie becoming a repulsive, vomit inducing piece, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE plays upon the audience's imaginations, making us feel for the helplessness of the suffering characters. Dr. Heiter, while unquestionably evil, is also as twistedly brilliant as movie villains from Hannibal Lector to John "Jigsaw". For his victims in their deformed state, he is nearly impossible to outsmart, almost always one step ahead, and already planning his next Human Centipede experiment, should this one fail.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE has what the overwhelming majority of current Horror Thrillers lack, and that's gutsy originality. There is nothing two-dimensional torture porn about this one. The characters, characterization, plot, and motivations are all well thought-out, striking, and tragic, as well as unexpectedly, darkly comic. Tom Six even gets the science right! With all of this going for it, how can I not give THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE all 5 Shriek Girls?