Ginger Nuts of Horror
Come on in, the water's crawling...
The Human Centipede (Final Sequence), 2014
Tom Six, USA
Welcome back to Film Gutter for what will be a slightly different piece this week. Oh yes, we're still gleefully swimming in the murky waters of extreme cinema, but today will be a film review and an event report rolled into one.
It's 1:11am on the 5th July, and I've not long emerged from the UK premiere and afterparty for the release of The Human Centipede (Final Sequence). The event conveniently (for me at least) took place in nearby Nottingham, and it's a grand vote of thanks to Broadway Cinema, Mayhem Film Festival and Eureka! for making the event possible. It's also well worth mentioning that the premiere screening – which included a Q+A with both director Tom Six and actor Dieter Laser and an afterparty with stacks of freebies – was only priced at regular cinema rate of £8. I think all involved deserve plenty of credit for avoiding the temptation to up the price for this one – it really was fantastic value.
My day – the 4th July, that is – began with an email at 8:53am from Broadway saying that they were happy to clear me some interview time with Tom and Dieter prior to the main screening. Over the moon? Yes. Nervous? Yes, that too. But I have to say that the old adage about meeting your heroes was well and truly proven wrong here – it was a real pleasure talking to both Tom and Dieter, who were both incredibly welcoming, insightful and great fun.
Broadway were also screening First Sequence and Full Sequence throughout the day in some of the smaller spaces, but having rewatched both in the last week or two I was ultra-disciplined and decided to devote some time to work (which is extremely busy as I type this. But I digress.) But I noticed people drifting into the sold-out screening at about 8:30, and determined to get a decent seat I strolled in at about 8:45. There was some impressive costumery on display, including one chap who had inventively used a blowup doll to create his own two-segment Human Centipede (although I'm still not quite sure how he sat down...). Following a short and sweet introduction from Tom and Dieter it was into proceedings. It was very noticeable throughout the event the camaraderie and genuine friendship between director and performer, and the word 'chemistry' came up more than once in conversation, but could very easily have remained unspoken it was so apparent in all their conversations.
photograph reproduced with permission from the Mayhem Film Festival
So, onto the movie itself. Final Sequence is another fascinating entry in the Centipede pantheon, in that it is as different to the first two movies as they were to each other. I can't think of any film trilogy that has refreshed the palette so much for each part – none of the three films have any derivative or repetitive elements. They are linked primarily by that core concept and by a fun meta thread that runs though the three – 'a movie centipede' as the director dubbed it. We begin here with the final moments of Full Sequence in what is post-modern movie heaven before meeting our main protagonists. Undoubted star of the show is Dieter Laser – Dr Heiter in First Sequence – who features here as Bill Boss, a demented and sadistic prison warden who inflicts casual violence and torture upon his hardened prisoners. He's joined by Laurence R Harvey – the lead of Full Sequence – as Dwight Butler, his mild-mannered accountant, and Bree Olson as put-upon secretary Daisy.
What unravels from this seemingly simple set-up is one of the most stunning black comedies I've seen in many years. In fact, black comedy doesn't quite do it justice – we need something darker to help describe this. But it is funny. In places it is genuinely laugh out loud funny, the kind of comedy that has you checking your moral compass while you're laughing – pretty much my favourite kind of humour. It was great seeing this one at the cinema and laughing, cringing and groaning with disgust alongside with so many other people.
The movie itself is the longest of the three, but rattles along with a lively blend of shock and grim humour. Some of the more 'choice' scenes include a castration and a scene with a stoma that will absolutely turn your stomach, not to mention Bill Boss's office snack of dried clitorises. So much of the movie hangs on Laser's performance, who is so gloriously over the top as the German-American prison warden that you almost find yourself rooting for him. He's the archetypal bully at heart – absolutely extreme and full-on when in the ascendancy, but often a coward when backed into a corner or confronted with real danger. As well as all those undesirable character traits, he's misogynistic, sexist, wildly racist and loves to punish the prisoners in extreme ways. When this movie claims to be 100% politically incorrect, it is not lying. In fact, that may be somewhat understating the case...
What was particularly likeable about this film is that there's a sense of it being made for Centipede afficionados. As well as pulling together the leads of the first two movies, there are any number of cameos from actors who have featured in the trilogy. Tom Six plays himself in a knowing and wry way, determined to see the process he invented in the first two films live and in the flesh before proclaiming it – and a few other things – disgusting. Boss's colourful assessment of First Sequence and Full Sequence, as well as Tom as a director, wonderfully express so much of the response to the series from the wider media. That meta thread enables that sort of commentary – and comment – to be made.
And yes, just to confirm those rumours you've heard, the new Centipede is 500 people long. There's also a moment of comedy gold which follows this grand unveiling, but I simply can't spoil that for you.
All told, this is a really fitting conclusion as the centipede crawls away into the distance. Having provided so much violence, blood and other bodily fluids in Full Sequence, anything you could do to try and top that would become ridiculous. So what has Six done? Acknowledged from the very get go that this movie would be ridiculous, and revelled in the self-parody and satire presented. As much as many fans might like a Centipede 4, there's simply nowhere to go from here. With three very different films, each achieving something different, it is only appropriate that Final Sequence be just that – the final part.
Following the movie, there was a very insightful Q+A in which Tom and Dieter took on a host of moderated questions from Mayhem's Steven Shiel, as well as some from the audience. The anecdotes of persuading Dieter to get on board for the films, and some of the on-set stories, were absolutely great to hear.
REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM RICHARD DUNDAS AND MAYHEM FILM FESTIVAL
But wait, there's more? An aftershow party as well, with free drinks, free swag and the chance to get things signed? What's not to like – and you'll be delighted to hear that the good folks at Eureka were willing to provide me with an extra poster and t-shirt, both signed by Tom Six, Ilona Six and Dieter Laser, which we'll be running a giveaway for right here at Ginger Nuts of Horror!
So, as for the event, it has to be a ten out of ten. The price was phenomenal for what you got, everyone involved in the movies was so free and easy with their time, and there was a great feeling of a group of kindred spirits gathering to really enjoy themselves. This was truly something for the dedicated fanbase, and it was so great to see the whole team willing to give so much back.
For the movie itself, I suppose we'd best give that a rating before signing off. And for me, it's a fabulous 9.5/10. As someone who's watched and enjoyed the two movies previously, it's practically perfect, and just has everything and everyone in it that you'd want to see. Laser reaches new heights of fervour and insanity, going a step beyond even the incredibly intense performance as Dr Heiter in First Sequence. The humour is absolutely black as night, but there are lashings of it – I can't remember laughing so hard in quite a while. The only reason I stopped short of 10/10 – and believe me, I was tempted – is that this really is one to come to having familiarised yourself with the first two movies. It's hard to judge how it would stand alone for folks who haven't seen the first two Sequences, but I suspect a host of the in-jokes and nods to the predecessors would be lost on those coming to the movie fresh.
I'll say this in closing – if you like horror or extreme cinema at all, and you haven't checked this trilogy out, do yourself a favour and watch them. First Sequence is a classic horror set-up with a very effective extreme horror element, Full Sequence is an in-your-face, visceral body horror to rival Tetsuo or Eraserhead, and Final Sequence is a glorious punchline to a joke that we didn't even realise we were being told.
Human Centipede Month will wrap up with my interview with Tom Six and Dieter Laser, coming soon!
Human Centipede 3 gets its UK release on the 10th July.
REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM MAYHEM FILM FESTIVAL
Mayhem Film Festival is a cutting-edge event bringing you the very best in genre cinema and television which screens the best in horror, sci-fi and cult features and shorts from around the world, often with guest filmmakers in attendance. The 2015 festival takes place from October 15th-18th. For more, visit http://www.broadway.org.uk/mayhem
Follow the links below for the rest of Alex's fantastic Human Centipede reviews and interviews
GUTTER TALK: AN INTERVIEW WITH TOM SIX AND DIETER LASER (COMING SOON)