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Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Human Centipede: Unrated Director's Cut (DVD)

The Human Centipede (First Sequence): Unrated Director's Cut
2010 (2010) - IFC Films/IFC Midnight
Released on DVD on October 5th, 2010

A lot of factors go into deciding whether or not you'll see a particular movie. But sometimes all you need is the premise to get a gut reaction saying that you'll never, ever see this picture. No matter how hard anyone tries, you will not be moved from that conviction. The Human Centipede (First Sequence), arguably the year's most notorious horror movie, is one of those. If you know what it's about, then you already know if you want to see it or not. If you don't, don't worry. I'm not going to try to change your mind.

In the unlikely event you don't know what writer-director Tom Six has in store for you, the story's pretty simple. Two vacationing American girls run afoul of a mad scientist (Dieter Laser) deep in the woods of Germany. He drugs them and plans to use them as two links of his "human centipede": three people joined at the mouth and anus to form a thing with a single digestive tract. Six claims this is all "100% medically accurate", which I find a little hard to swallow (so to speak).

On the most basic level, The Human Centipede is crudely effective. Yes, moments in the film made me cringe. The movie is shot extremely well, often making you imagine you're seeing more than you really are. And Dieter Laser is a terrific screen presence and his performance alone almost makes the movie worth watching. Almost. You see, beyond that one disgusting and admittedly original central idea, The Human Centipede has virtually nothing to offer. It doesn't help that the two leading ladies are such helpless shrieky idiots that you can't wait for the good doctor to shut them up. The movie takes forever to get where it's going, wasting a lot of time on a pointless escape attempt that has absolutely no suspense because we already know what's going to happen to them.

Once the operation is complete, the movie completely runs out of gas after about ten minutes of nastiness. If David Cronenberg had made this, he'd have used this image to say something about symbiosis, the ethics of medical experimentation, or even S&M relationships (Laser attempts to train his human centipede like a dog). But it's pretty clear that Tom Six hasn't given it much thought beyond how unpleasant it would be and you don't have to watch the movie to agree that it's gross. By the time the end credits roll, it's obvious that Six had nothing to say and you're left wondering why you bothered with this in the first place.

On DVD, IFC's presentation of The Human Centipede leaves a bit to be desired (a Blu-ray is also available but I'm not too broken-hearted about missing the extra detail on this one). The image is OK but carries a lot of digital noise, especially in dimly light sequences. The audio is a straightforward 2.0 stereo mix that fails to impress much. A smattering of no-frills extras are included, the most interesting of which are a behind-the-scenes look at a foley session and a gallery of alternate poster designs. You also get the trailer, a deleted scene (really more of a deleted shot), nine minutes of behind-the-scenes production footage, a brief interview with Tom Six, and casting tapes for the two young women, Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie. Finally, Six contributes a pretty boring audio commentary, mostly him narrating what's on screen with occasional comments on the production, punctuated with a lot of dead air.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is nowhere near as graphic as you might expect, although that probably won't matter much if you just plain don't want to see it anyway. I don't actively look for movies that I think are going to gross me out but I don't avoid them. I can forgive a movie for making me feel queasy. I can't forgive one for being dopey and dull.

Film Rating: C-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/C/C-

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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