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Movie Review: ‘The Human Centipede (First Sequence)’

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The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

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Originally released in 2010, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) capitalizes on movies such as the Hostel and Saw series, only upping the amount of humiliation and torture inflicted upon the film’s victims. The end goal of this Dutch flick is not death but rather at creating a horrible hell in life so that each victim yearns for death. Although not easy to watch by any stretch of the imagination, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) pushes the horror genre into new territory that will easily alienate the squeamish and mortify the hardcore.

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Coproduced, written, and directed by Tom Six, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) starts with a man (later identified as Dr. Heiter, played by Dieter Laser) who follows a trucker who has pulled over to take a dump deep in a forest. Heiter watches as this man begins to do his business, only to shoot him with a tranquilizer dart from a rifle.

The movie then cuts to two girls, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), American tourists on their way to a new club somewhere in Germany. The girls’ car breaks down (flat tire). Naive and inexperienced, the girls seek help with their predicament, but from the beginning things are all wrong. For example, the first Samaritan who stops to help is a dirty old man who thinks the girls are porn stars. The girls eventually find themselves deep in the forest, where it is raining. Fortunately, they spot a house. Unfortunately, it is the house of Dr. Heiter.

A once-respected surgeon whose specialty was separating Siamese twins, Dr. Heiter has now isolated himself in his house and is hopelessly insane. He quickly captures both girls by drugging them with a “rape drug” and straps them on beds within his laboratory, where we once again meet up with the trucker. It turns out the trucker is “not compatible” with the girls, so Heiter kills him. Heiter then secures a compatible subject, Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), a Japanese tourist.

Heiter’s goal is to assemble a “human centipede” by breaking all the victim’s knees so that they cannot stand (they can only crawl) and hooking them together from mouth to anus, so that they all share a similar digestive track. The bulk of the film focuses on the assembly and training of Heiter’s signature creature. The sequences are startlingly brutal and repulsive, particularly when the “head” of the centipede (Katsuro) is forced to eat from a bowl like a dog and later must defecate into the mouth of the center of the centipede, Jenny, who in turn must then do the same to Lindsay.

The final reel of the movie has a couple of German detectives investigating the various disappearances around Dr. Heiter’s home and the surrounding forest. Heiter attempts to poison both detectives, as he needs to find replacements for both girls (Lindsay’s skin is rejecting the surgery). However, both men, although weakened, stand against the good doctor, in the process discovering the hideous experiment that is the human centipede. The film’s ending is particularly brutal, with the fate of the sole survivor left a mystery.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is purely exploitive horror, and much like its predecessors will leave most audiences dumbfounded and disgusted. However, as each generation of horror continues to push the genre’s limits, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) may in the future serve as a stepping stone much like movies such as The Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave, The Hills Have Eyes, and the aforementioned Saw and Hostel. Interestingly, there is little blood and gore in the movie. Like movies such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) relies on taut sequences in which what is hinted drives the imagination into deeper terrors no visual could ever achieve. For this alone, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is essential viewing to those seeking out the boundaries of extreme horror and terror. Be warned, however, that this flick is not for the faint of heart. It does leave scars.

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