Ginger Nuts of Horror
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The Human Centipede (Full Sequence) (2011)
Tom Six, USA
This June sees the UK release of The Human Centipede (Final Sequence) so here at Film Gutter we're in a celebratory mood. The conclusion to what must be well among the most notorious film trilogies of all time – certainly in terms of mainstream attention, at least – draws to a close so all through June we're going to be looking at the trilogy, with a review of each movie, a retrospective on the three movies plus some very cool interviews with those involved in the series.
So, with that said, we're rolling onto the second part of the trilogy. Full Sequence emerged two years after the original crashed onto the extreme horror scene, and for me is all-round a superior film. What was particularly fascinating is that as a sequel it's so very different to the original, and goes much further in terms of genuine shock value.
The story follows Martin, a socially maladjusted car park attendant who is pretty well obsessed with First Sequence. He lives with his mother, who still blames him for their abusive father leaving and continues the cycle with her continuous mental abuse.
There are two things that become immediately apparent – firstly, the movie itself is in black and white. It lends an interesting visual angle, and seems to emphasise the feeling of urban decay and unease that permeates the film. It's not an effect I'm usually a fan of, but it works superbly in this context.
Secondly, Martin is practically a mute. He doesn't have a line for the full 90 minutes. He squeals and squeaks a few times, but there's no dialogue at all from our lead character. All the speech comes from the other characters in the piece. It's a remarkable performance from Laurence R Harvey, who is sublimely creepy throughout and expresses so much in simple looks and facial expressions. It's hard to imagine anyone else in that lead role.
So, Martin's fixation with First Sequence leads to him building up to try and make his very own Human Centipede. He's in the ideal position to do so – he works nights in an isolated location, controls the CCTV footage and has plenty of people rolling up pretty drunk and defenceless. He begins to gather his 'segments' and lock them in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. As all this plays out, we learn more about Martin's abusive past, see more of his horrible day to day life and also discover his attempts to lure First Sequence actress Ashylnn Yennie over to the UK for an 'audition'. It's about an hour into the movie when Martin finally snaps under the hideousness of his own existence, and we have an absolutely horrendous last half hour ahead of us. It's Yennie's arrival that is the final piece in the jigsaw – she thinks she's here for an audition for a new Tarantino movie, but is in fact going to be the head of Martin's 10-person centipede.
The final thirty minutes of this movie are absolutely unflinching and genuinely horrible in a way that the first movie never was. The operation Martin carries out is so unskilled and improvised, which adds another layer of awfulness to what we see. But of course he's over the moon once he has successfully completed his extended centipede – the fetishization of the process and the result from Martin is utterly disturbing. Even the means by which it all goes wrong around him is just awful in every sense. It's truly a repellent finale to a film that is absolutely twisted from beginning to end.
None of the above, of course, is intended as a criticism – after all, this is Film Gutter. We like that kind of thing here.
Full Sequence is probably one of my favourite extreme horror films – dark and demented, interestingly presented with a fun 'meta' thread running throughout and a really strong lead performance that, as per First Sequence, lifts the movie above what it might have been.
Rating: 9.5/10. This film has its critics – as does the whole trilogy, I suppose – but I love that this film is so refreshingly different to its predecessor but still keeps a very clear sequential feel. It also feels a little like a swipe at those critics in taking things to so much more of an extreme than the original. But the overriding impression that stays with me is of an uncompromising Eraserhead for a new generation, keeping much of that awful, cloying atmosphere but also imbuing an intense thread of body horror. Extreme horror fans – whatever you've heard, whatever you've read, be sure to check this one out.
Follow the links below for Alex's review of the first Human Centipede film and and interview with Deiter Laser