Ginger Nuts of Horror
'In real life, you don't do things, but in fantasy everything is possible...'
Last week, we offered up our review of The Human Centipede: Final Sequence and also a report from the UK Premiere at Nottingham's Broadway Cinema, courtesy of Mayhem and Eureka Entertainment. And here, to wrap up Human Centipede month here at Film Gutter, I'm delighted to present my interview with the wonderful Tom Six, director of all three movies in the trilogy, and star of First Sequence and Final Sequence Dieter Laser.
So, here it is – brace yourself...
Alex: Thanks so much guys for taking the time to talk to us here at Film Gutter. The first thing I want to ask is to track back to the start basicially. Tom, you and Ilona were really determined to get Dieter as your man for First Sequence. What made you so dead set on that? It's quite unusual for a director to have that one actor in mind.
Tom: I was browsing the internet, thinking, looking, what kind of man must play that role. And I came across a photo of Dieter – I'd never heard of Dieter yet – but I saw this photo and I instantly, instinctively knew that this was going to be it. So we looked him up, and saw that he had done so many films and television and was very big in Gerrmany, a great German actor. And I knew I wanted him, nobody else. Then we met at the Berlin Hilton and we had such an amazing chemistry. I was a happy man. No other actor would be perfect for this role.
Alex: Dieter, It's quite famously said that you had some doubts about appearing in both the first film and the third film when you saw the scripts. What was it that persuaded you to stay on board?
Dieter: It's a very strange pattern. Tom in both cases – Tom is a brilliant storyteller, and when we met in Berlin in the Hilton he told me the whole film, his whole vision, even with camera angles, with everything – it took the same amount of time as the film would last. I was so impressed and we are brothers in passion, because I saw the passion in his eyes and that's the most important point for me – the passion. And I heard and saw the skills, the competence, the passion and the visionary stuff. I was so excited I jumped up and said 'Sir, we have to do that'. We had a handshake contract in five minutes.
So then, the script came home after a while and then I realised – only the one digestive tract! And suddenly I had been in the cinema first and saw the film that he [Tom] told me in my mind's eye. Now I had a script and it's written down and it's real and it's one digestive tract – oh – and I saw the poo flow and I was shocked. And I said 'I'm a serious German actor, I have a reputation to lose... Wah wah wah, lament, lament...'
And then I said to myself, 'Sit down on your ass, idiot, and start working because you have a contract and a contract by handshake is a contract as well. So don't lament.' So I sat down in the early morning hours as I mostly do to have the silence and the fresh brains and I sit – without any clock – four or five, it doesn't hold me. If I don't have a script, then I sleep until 11 or 12, but with a script I jump out of bed at four o'clock in the morning. Sitting in my kitchen with green tea or coffee or something like that, staring at the lines and thinking and meditating and so on. So I started. Then I thought, and I suddenly discovered in the script that he has many philosophical, hidden, artistic stuff under the entertaining layers. And they have to be hidden because otherwise they won't develop their subliminal power. So then I discovered – I though, wait a minute, idiot Dieter, my dear friend. Think about it – Dr Heiter, in his former life, has separated twins. Who, from the German clowns of the Nazi time experimented with twins? Who was that? The Angel of Death, Dr Josef Mengele. And I thought: ah, the possibilities, the chance to kick my ancestor's generation in their anal retentive ass, full power! That would be a joy, wonderful fun! And I called Tom and said, 'May I call him Josef?' and he said, 'Now you've got me, my friend. We will do this!' And then the fun started.
The third part was more difficult. Same reaction, but there we had a meeting in London and he told me that film. And I saw that film and I saw myself and I said, 'Let's go out of the hotel on the street and I will show you how he will walk, in which style he will walk' and Tom said, 'Yeah!' And already we celebrated and drank a lot and started already developing the character. But in this case it took a long, long time until the final draft came to me at home. And again, I had a contract already. And the final draft arrived and same pattern as the first – there's written 100% politically incorrect and this political incorrectness I took German-like, like a Nazi. I took it 100% too serious, every word, one to one. And I said, 'Impossible, I will never ever appear on screen raping a woman in a coma. I don't like to eat dried clitorises. I don't like people watching that. No, no, no!' So it escalated. I was so stubborn and blindfolded that I said 'You have to change horses, I can't do that!'
And Tom, he has balls. He is daring, for sure. He didn't change one word. He didn't give in. But, he never gave up trying to convince me. And finally, in a four-hour meeting in the Sheraton Hotel at the airport in Amsterdam he managed to open my eyes. He said, 'Dieter. Co-me-dy. Co-me-dy. Black co-me-dy. Vitriolic, hilariously...' and then I thought, 'Oh yeah. Mm-hmm.' Not to lose face too fast, I said I have to go outside to smoke. And I had a smoke and then I come back and I say 'Sir Tom, we have to do that!' Because now the cartoonish possibility to go so far over the top that it politically gets its countershot.
I'm so thankful that he never gave up and then we started together in that historic place – Sheraton Hotel, Aiport Amsterdam – we met once in a while, every four weeks, and together developed and added the tiny details to Bill Boss. And so Bill Boss, I'm his creature but it's also our child. Our homosexual child.
Tom: It is, it is.
Dieter: We fucked long enough to give that child birth. Bill Boss is our child. We are so happy that now marriage is allowed in America. Maybe we have to go to America and get married there.
Tom: And have many more children.
Dieter: Many more children.
Tom: Anal births!
Alex: That's a beautiful image... One of the things that has really interested me about the trilogy is that every single film is so different. Almost the only thing tying them together is that sort of underlying concept. Were you worried that people would watch number one, and then come to number two and number three, and think 'I don't get some of the others'? Was that a worry at all?
Tom: I didn't want to repeat myself. People are used to seeing the same film, but worse. So people when they saw Part Two were very confused – they were like, it's a completely different film. But I want to give myself energy and make something else. Otherwise it would be boring.
Alex: It's quite rare in a horror director to have that attitude!
Tom: Absolutely. And I made a totally different film. Part two is the opposite of part one.
Alex: Absolutely. It's interesting because Part One had such a media reaction when it came out, but when you watch Part Two you think this is more shocking, sort of visceral, really in your face...
Tom: People wanted to see that.
Alex: It's much more subtle in the first film.
Tom: They watched the first film and said 'Where's the shit? We want to see that flying!' And I gave it to them, like heroin addicts, and then they went over the top! This is crazy! They asked for it.
Alex: I'm about to settle down to watch the third film. What can we expect from that – is that another step further, in your eyes?
Tom: Totally different film, and this time, Part Three is the most darkly funny of the set. I came from the idea of punishment – which I didn't use in Part One – but now I thought it has to be prison, and I want to take the original leading actors from Part One and Part Two and give them completely different roles.
Alex: It's a great idea.
Tom: I like the idea. It's great for the actors to reinvent themselves and I also wanted the characters again to be totally opposite. Like Dr Heiter is this very meticulous, soft spoken... he knows exactly what he's doing. And this is like an outrageous asshole, everything is too big, and somehow he's stupid and he's impotent almost.
Dieter: He is a yelling, idiotic child. You could kill this child, because he's very childish and he's stupid. And that makes him outrageous and evil. But there is another level, it's also a desert snake, a creature of evil in the disguise of a warden. And thi s cartoonish comic strip allows you to go that far. That's what I didn't see in the first place is the possibility to gain a height and a beyond and from that point it will shoot back. And that's interesting.
Alex: I wanted to ask a question, and it's something that comes up for me a lot when I'm doing the series of reviews and interviews. Do you think there's a point that is too far? Is there an idea you would have that you would say 'No, I won't do that?'
Tom: No, never.
Alex: I suspected you would say that!
Tom: I never censor myself. Because in art and in film you have to push boundaries and explore new territories. I like that idea. If you're a writer and you hold yourself back that would be stupid, because maybe someone else does it. In real life, you don't do things, but in fantasy everything is possible. We do things with latex, we have so much fun on the set, it's all fake.
Alex: The effects are incredible, it's something that really looks so believable.
Dieter: On the other hand, the reality always confirms.
Tom: That's true.
Dieter: Think about the comic strip ISIS. Think about that. Head rolling idiots. Pfft! Is Part Three going too far? No, it shows the slaughterhouse we are living in. We are enjoying that because we think we are safe. And we only have to wait a little bit until our heads will roll if we don't watch it. And to watch it we have these wonderful films. But, you know, if you see the idiots from ISIS on television talking – or acting – I know, it's Centipede Part Four.
Tom: It's so true.
Alex: And now you mention Centipede Part Four... I'm just going to throw this one out there, was it something you set out to make as a trilogy from the very beginning? Was that always the aim?
Tom: Yes, because the three films make a movie centipede. They can literally be connected because Part Two starts where Part One ends, so you can literally edit them together and have one four and a half hour film. I was playing with that idea always but you have to wait to see if the film becomes a success, of course. The masterplan was always there.
Dieter: What we have tonight in reel – we have tonight a little festival of the movie centipede.
Alex: And there's a real thread of meta that runs throughout, which I think is fantastic. I love the fact of Martin being so obsessed with that first film throughout Human Centipede 2 and Tom, you're appearing in the film tonight, so this continues on.
Tom: I play with those elements, I love it.
Alex: I've never seen it done quite that way in horror.
Tom: Part Two is a reaction to Part One, and Three is a reaction to Two and One. In the press, in the media, what's going on...
Alex: I love the scene in the warehouse [in Part Two] where one of the characters shouts 'It was just a movie!' It's a great line that sums all that up.
I'm going to ask this final question – it's obvious from the very get-go that you guys had fantastic chemistry, love working together, and that you've had a blast on all these films. Are we going to see more collaborations in future?
Dieter: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Tom: Dieter and I love working together.
Dieter: That's my dream team. Sir Tom, Lady Ilona and me – we have such an incredible chemistry that it would be idiotic not to continue.
Tom: Absolutely. But in our era it's difficult to get the finance and stuff, so creating films takes time. It's hard. It's the hardest thing to make a film. But I want to work with him [Dieter] until eternity.
Alex: Is there anything you can tell us about, any hints you can drop?
Tom: No, no.
Alex: I had to ask, just for myself as much as anyone else! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today, and great to meet you both.