“Run, human centipede run!!!” Who knew I’d find myself yelling that sentence at my television screen? So I finally broke down and watched that movie about the not exceptionally sane surgeon who sews folks together in the worst way you can think of. I’m probably not the best audience for this type of thing because as much as I love lots of blood and gore, I like pretending that people don’t poop even more. Being reminded that they do indeed do such a regrettable, albeit (allegedly) natural, thing is not my idea of a good time. I admit it, I was prepared to hate this one, but thankfully the crazy doctor keeps his modern home so immaculate that I wasn’t as nauseated as I thought I’d be. If you had to be a human centipede, you really couldn’t ask for better digs.
I can’t think of any movie that swings from downright silly to “oh, the humanity!” depressing as often as this kooky contraption does. Even more startling is the fact that it serves up a few scenes of genuine suspense. No, I’m not talking about expertly orchestrated HITCHCOCK-ian suspense; I mean that frustrating kind where you find yourself trying to mentally will the characters not do the stupidest things you’ve ever witnessed while they’re trying to escape. Take note, I don’t care who the hell you are, I‘m not going back to save you if we’re ever found in this situation and I alone break free. In fact, I expect there will be a perfect cut-out Unkle Lancifer silhouette in the wall that I’ve crashed through while exiting the premises. If THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE’s main priority is to invent and subject the viewer to the worst possible way to meet their maker, I begrudgingly have to admit it has earned the coveted slow clap.
You’re never going to get me to say that this logic mocking movie is good but I think it might be anyway. If nothing else it is a perfect “dare” watch to subject sleepover guests to. This is the type of cult atrocity that makes me wish I still worked at a video store so that I could switch its case with that of MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY. Truth told, the movie balances the line of being truly disturbing but it never really crosses it fully. As in your face as the premise may be, your imagination will really determine just how much it crawls into your psyche. In the end I felt that the constant sound of (muffled) whimpering from the centipede creation was far more upsetting (and annoying) than anything I actually saw. Maybe I’m downplaying the anguish a bit here as I do remember there were several times that I just wanted to turn the thing off and reclaim my semi-cloudy disposition. (Tellingly, 1990s SKI SCHOOL was watched as a chaser.)
I guess you can blame DIETER LASER for my not bailing before the film ended. He is so over the top and intense as the mad doctor that I couldn’t look away. The guy doesn’t even look real. There were a couple times when I thought I was being presented with a latex model only to find out a moment later that what I was seeing was his actual head. He’s really so extreme and cartoon broad that he’s able to keep things from teetering too far into the grim. There are surely moments when you’re liable to find yourself sliding into the overall awfulness of the situation but his energy and bizarreness pulls you out. Ultimately, HUMAN CENTIPEDE’s well earned, sick reputation can’t hide the fact that unlike a lot of big budget horror we’ve recently endured, there is a positively retro joy of the genre’s grotesqueries stitching this freak show together. It’s really up to the viewer to decide, you can take it in as either a hilarious, obscene joke or a soul wrenching mediation on man’s inhumanity to human centipedes (and Rottweilers.) Either way I’d say considering its mostly rubber vomit aspirations, the operation is somewhat of a shocking success.