Overflow, by Matt Warren
Look motherfucker, if you know about the Human Centipede franchise already then you certainly don’t need me to tell you whether or not to see Part 3. Are faces sewn to buttholes and force-fed human shit? Yes! Are new orifices carved into soft kidneys and literally prison raped? Yes! Are limbs removed with rusty hacksaws and cavalierly tossed into chum buckets? Yes! But you could’ve guessed all that. What you’re probably not prepared for is just how tedious it is to watch these atrocities unspool. In fact, the most transgressive part of Tom Six’s new trilogy-capper is just how goddamned monotonous it is. The Human Centipede 3 (Full Sequence) is gross, yes, but not scary. Histrionic, yes, but not atmospheric. Grotesque, yes, but not weird. However, it does achieve something not many torture porn flicks do. It expresses a genuine artistic vision.
I’ll start with the positive. The Human Centipede trilogy is a sincere auteurist accomplishment. Dutch filmmaker Tom Six has written and directed all three installments, and taken together the films represent an interesting metaphysical art project. Rather than continuing the narrative of the first, each sequel takes place in a new world where the previous films exist as fictional text—namely, as gross horror movies directed by Tom Six. In parts Two and Three, the villains are inspired by Six’s movie(s) to create (for various reasons) their own horrific ass-to-mouth monstrosities. This lets the director play with what’s basically an anthology format, mixing up tones, settings, and shooting styles, so that each installment is wholly unique yet thematically uniform. The trilogy is a Russian nesting doll of jaunty repulsion pitched hard at horror nerds. Conceptually, it works pretty well—just as long as you don’t choke on your own vomit and/or die of overfapping, you sick puking masturbator, you.
I maintain that the first Human Centipede movie is the best. Human Centipede: Original Recipe is actually a pretty fun B-movie horror flick with some nice suspense set pieces. And while the general concept of a “human centipede” is inarguably disgusting, Part One’s treatment of the “creature” isn’t all that graphic or hard to watch. The second film, however, is much more brutal and uncompromising, shot in gritty black-and-white with liberal doses of nihilistic violence and about one billion times more viscous and bodily fluids. Which brings us to The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)—by far the most unusual film in the series. It’s an amber-colored contemporary Western, an insipid political satire, and—weirdly—an occasional wacky workplace sitcom. It’s also a problematic showcase for Dieter Laser, probably the most unhinged German film actor since Klaus Kinski (or possibly even Heinrich Himmler in Triumph of the Will).
The premise of Final Sequence is this: Laser (returning from Part One) plays lunatic prison warden Bill Boss, a proud German-American disciplinarian not-so-slowly unraveling in the hot heat of his sun-baked maximum security detention center. Boss guzzles whiskey, gulps down picked clitorises from African female circumcision rituals, and sexually blackmails his buxom blonde secretary, played by porn star Bree Olson. He rants and raves and raves and raves some more, having gone full Col. Kurtz seemingly long before the movie even begins. Most of Boss’s abuse is hurled at his pitiful, bug-eyed underling Dwight, a humpty-dumpty grotesque played by Part Two’s big bad Laurence R. Harvey. Together, this dastardly duo hatches a plan for some…erm…reforms to the prison population as inspired by—what else?—Tom Six’s Human Centipede movies. Six even appears as himself for a helpful technical consultation, eventually barfing on a piece of plexiglass when he sees what Boss and Dwight have done to elevate and “improve” upon his puerile cinematic fantasies.
Final Sequence is indulgent in its subject matter, sure, but it’s also indulgent in its pacing and characterization. Six is plenty comfortable slicing out his characters’ testicles with a scalpel, but the thought of trimming any scene down to its core essentials apparently give him night terrors. Most grueling of all is Laser’s near-constant, top-volume bellowing of threats and profanity. Eventually I stopped processing the actor’s nonstop Teutonic death growl as language and started to appreciate it solely as aural wallpaper. It doesn’t help that Laser is 1) probably crazy to begin with, 2) most likely saying his lines phonetically, and 3) directed to be at “11” a full 110% of the time. It’s a difficult sit, but it is relentless and sort of beautiful in its purity of commitment. And hey, isn’t that what you want from a Human Centipede movie?
The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) is easily the oddest entry of the series, and you better fucking believe that that’s saying something. If you’ve ever watched a cheap sitcom, Hal Needham movie, or The Shawshank Redemption and thought to yourself “hey, why is no one fucking a kidney in this?” then you’re probably Tom Six. So good job, Tom. You finally did it.