Movie Review: The Human Centipede (2009)

Not since the brilliant French film Martyrs (2008) has a movie come on the scene, grabbed ya by the throat, and essentially dared ya to watch it without flinching.  Let me be clear; this is what was promised with The Human Centipede.  Does it deliver?  Well out of the two above-mentioned films only one was able to fully deliver on their grandiose promises (I think you know which one).

As the film opens we join Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, who looks like the bastard love-child of Lance Henriksen and Udo Kier) who is sitting in his car in the shoulder of the road.  He’s staring fondly at a picture of a canine centipede in which he joined three dogs to make one long creature.  The opening ends by the good doc drugging and kidnapping a fat trucker.  Flash to our heroines, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie); two American tourists traveling across Germany.  They’re getting ready to go to a party that is apparently in the middle of nowhere (judging by the roads they’re traveling on).  On the way to the party the car gets a flat tire on a very remote road and after an encounter with an older, VERY creepy German guy they decide to walk and find help.  Is any of this sounding familiar?  It should; it’s the set up for about 1,000 flicks!!  But for those of us who’ve heard and read the hype like myself, I’m being patient holding out for the hope of ultimately seeing a really disturbing flick.

Dieter Laser's Dr. Heiter is the best thing in this movie!!

I’ll give ya one guess what house they end up at.  You got it, the good Dr. Heiter.  Laser does a really good job playing Heiter; he’s the one shining performance in this otherwise annoying cast.  It’s pretty obvious from the start that there’s something very wrong with Heiter.  We learn he’s a world-renowned surgeon who specialized in separating Siamese twins.  But now he’s retired and doing “research” in his home lab, and we know that’s never a good sign.  He’s obsessed with creating a three segment/person human centipede in which the subjects are connected mouth-to-anus and they share one digestive track.  Pretty cool fucking idea that is completely twisted and original.  As Lindsay and Jenny wander into his home looking for a phone, Heiter sees this as a windfall opportunity.  He already has the fat trucker for the third subject so he does what any good host/mad scientist would do:  He slips the girls some roofies, chains them up in his basement operating room and preps them for surgery.  It turns out the trucker’s tissue samples didn’t match the girls so he kills him and then kidnaps a Japanese tourist.  Perfect match.  Oh boy; you can feel it.  It’s gonna get good now isn’t it?  Eehhh; just keep reading!!

Well here ya go. This is as graphic as this movie gets!!

The only really interesting character here is Heiter, and Laser plays it beautifully.  Heiter doesn’t look at his prisoners as people; they’re simply subjects to help him with his research and are no different than a lab mouse.  It’s also pretty clear that Heiter doesn’t like people and seems to have grown tired of the human race.  People, to him, are subjects to be experimented on.  And as mentioned above, Laser plays this beautifully.  There’s no doubt he’s bat-shit crazy, but what makes him so dangerous is that he’s focused, intelligent, and determined.

Please Dr. Heiter, do us a favor and kill these two!!!

The girls, on the other hand, are two of the most annoying female characters I’ve seen in a long time.  They do an ok job until they are taken captive.  Once bound up the girls become annoying, whining, stupid little twats.  During one of history’s most retarded escape attempts, Lindsay makes so much noise you just root for Heiter to capture her.  At one point she actually tries to hide UNDER WATER while Heiter stands by the side of the pool.  She should run for the mayor of retard town!!  There’s not one second during her escape that you think she’ll succeed.  I think the main problem is that Lindsay’s “big escape” felt really tagged on; almost like the film was too short so they tacked on the escape scene to pad out the film.

THIS is scarier and creepier than anything in the movie!!

So if you’re like me we all sit through and endure that tagged on escape and terrible female performances with the hopes of getting to see the human centipede.  Well ya won’t have to wait long folks; we see the human centipede about 30-40 minutes into the movie.  Yup!  Heiter explains to his subjects what he’s going to do to them:  Remove their teeth, remove the ligaments from their knees, and fix their anuses in order to connect them.  Then just as he starts the procedure the scene fades to black and BAM the operation is done; BOOM, we get to see the human centipede.  WTF???  Where’s the blood?  The gore?  All the disturbing images we were promised??  I’m assuming those scenes are on the editor’s floor because we certainly saw nothing.  This film, in fact, is pretty blood-less.  I’ve seen more blood in defloration videos (yikes; even I think I went too far with that one!!).  Then the rest of the flick has Heiter “training” his new pet.  What a huge fucking disappointing film people.

Scene from the movie Asphyxia. Hhmmm .....

Besides writer-director Tom Six blowing his wad way too early and in a most anticlimactic way, the sound quality of the movie is terrible and the pacing is slow and lumbering.  After ya realize you’re not gonna see the movie you were promised you quickly lose interest.  One tagline for the film is “100% Medically Accurate,” and I think that’s the problem here.  The whole thing feels so goddamn clinical that there was no over-the-top gore or mayhem that could have made this really fun.  I really doubt this is going to become a cult classic.  No way.  Bottom line is that there’s actually barely enough material here to fill a short film yet alone a feature length movie.  And seriously, if you watch the trailer (which I’m including here below my summary) you will see all the “disturbing” scenes you would see if you watch the entire film.  What a HUGE disappointment that besides Dieter Laser’s performance and being an original idea (horribly executed) there’s nothing here to recommend.  Apparently there’s already a part two in the works with a 12 segment human centipede.  Meh.  Skip this one and go watch Martyrs again.

My Summary:

Director:  Tom Six (and writer)

Plot: 1 out of 5 for its execution; 4 out of 5 for originality

Gore:  1.5 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

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42 Responses to “Movie Review: The Human Centipede (2009)”
  1. Ifaz says:

    Ah I was looking forward to this!

  2. autumnforest says:

    I knew you’d have to cover this one and I winced. Yeah, the subject matter is disgusting, but I work in the medical field, it’s really no nastier than a lot of the operations that are performed on people in desperate measures to give them a life after a horrible accident or flesh-eating cancers. I think the only thing I’d get out of the film is the doctor himself because I think he represents a lot of actual doctors in clinics around the world. He’s had to deal with people on a daily basis and perhaps he was brilliant in science and labs but the reality of having to practice medicine on actual unpredictable human beings is beyond the scope of his social skills. I love horror, but I do have an enormously hard time with movies that accentuate the desensitization we already have, the lack of compassion for other people’s pain and, yeah, I wince while watching American’s Funniest Home Videos when the dude skateboards down the pole and ends up landing on his groin. I hate to see people in pain, so the “Saw” series, although mentally it intrigued me, physically it just made me wince a lot. I suspect this film will bring people in for the mass curiosity, kind of like snakes on a plane, but it certainly isn’t going to get any credits or big box office. I suppose it was a calculated risk–make it nasty enough and at least folks will come in and see it even though it’s poorly made, just to see who you hook up head to tail on human beings. Ick (shivers). I guess I don’t find that scary, just gross. Scary is what your mind thinks when all the info isn’t given to you, ick is when they throw it into your face. You’re brave for reviewing it.

    • I’m not brave; I’m just a sick fuck!! LOL This one wasn’t nearly extreme enough. I watch movies like Hostel 1&2 and leave thinking “Eli Roth didn’t go far enough.” I love see movies that truly disturb and bother me. You really need to watch Martyrs if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s honestly not a very gory movie but it is the most disturbing film you’ll ever see. It’s executed so beautifully!!! The August Underground Trilogy is also disturbing but for very different reasons.

      The character of the doctor is definitely the best and most interesting in the movie. My brother is a doctor and I can see and totally understand why doctor’s need to distance themselves from their patients and look at them as “subjects” to an extent. Dr. Heiter has been helping Siamese twins for so long and distancing himself that he’s forgotten what its like to be a human being!!! The doc is a great character!!

  3. goregirl says:

    That DOLL Centipede is fucking awesome!!

    Really disappointed to hear the gore isn’t there! I don’t mind a slower pace but I dislike stupid female characters and it is not a good thing when they’re featured through the entire film. On the other hand, I really love crazy doctors! This doesn’t sound as over the top or fun as I was anticipating. I probably will check this out eventually but considering this is now the second less than enthusiastic review I’ve read from a trusted source I think I’ll just wait it out and rent it when it goes to 7 day.

    • The females here are gonna PISS YOU OFF GireGirl!!! They are so annoying that you can’t wait for their mouths to be attached to someone’s ass just to shut them up. And I forgot to mention the annoying Japanese guy who screams and cries the entire time.

      You will enjoy the doctir’s performance!! He’s great. But there is a surprising/shocking lack of gore in this film. Even the unveiling of the “human centipede” was totally anticlimatic. If you’ve seen the trailer than you’ve seen the resulting centipede. Again; VERY disappointing.

    • Oh yeah GireGirl; that doll is hysterical, isn’t it!!!

  4. l3pr3chaun says:

    One word…….Bummer!…….It had so much potential based on the trailer and for this to underdeliver just sucks.

    • “Underdelivers” is an understatement!!!
      Director Six should have kept it as a short film; maybe 10-15 minutes long. At least that way he could have built up some tension or something!!

  5. Rachel says:

    I saw the trailer for The Human Centipede today and it literally left me in tears, it disturbed me so much. ..I know, I’m way too sensitive. I’m actually not a horror fan at all because anytime I’ve watched anything resembling horror I wind up scared/angry/disgusted. My question for you is…why do you love horror so much? My first thought when I hear about someone like Tom Six is “what kind of crazy bastard comes up with this shit?” But I know that normal non-serial killers love horror and it just confuses me. Do you every wonder or worry that you are desensitized to human suffering by watching movies that are all about reveling in human suffering? Isn’t horror like say this Human Centipede movie somehow glorifying perversion and violence and dehumanization that the Nazi’s Dr. Mengele personifies? I’m not trying to be rude here- I just want to hear some opinions on this.

    • Thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts down here on my website. And I think you make an essential confusion here between “real” and “fiction”. Horror movies are works of fiction that delve into dark and sometimes disturbing territory, BUT they are in fact just movies. For argument’s sake let’s say you really love romance movies. You love them so much that you in fact run a website called http://anythingromance.com. Now I could ask you almost the same question that you posted here: “Do you [ever] wonder or worry that you are desensitized to human love by watching movies that are all about reveling in human love?” And I know that that question doesn’t exactly fit but I hope you get where I’m going.

      I agree with you; I’m 100% desensitized to violence and blood and gore. But FICTIONAL violence, blood, and gore. When I read stories and watch the news and they talk about horrible things, I’m affected just like you are. And to compare a fictional movie like The Human Centipede to a real life monster like Dr. Mengele and the very real horrible, unspeakable things he did to other people is pretty insulting. With all due respect its very insulting that you’d think horror fans couldn’t differentiate between real life and the fictional world. Going with my above statement (about romance movies) that’d be like saying that watching tons of fictional romance movies desensitizes & prevents you from having real life relationships and affects your ability to experience love.

      I, in fact, love horror movies (and have since I was 5 yrs old) BECAUSE they aren’t real and are so far away from the “real world”. Its a world where you can escape & lose yourself into. I find dramas and romance movies insufferable because they are too close to the real world. I’m not saying they aren’t good movies; some of them are excellent movies. Ordinary People, for example, depressed the shit out of me for days afterwards. Why would I wanna watch a fictional family learning how to cope and deal with the lose of a family member? That happens in real life everyday of the week and is a more horrifying and real event to me that being stalked in my dreams by a killer!! And I won’t even go into romantic-comedies!!! :-)

      I love horror movies because they are just that; movies. They are an escape and I love to be scared (it gives ya a great endorphin rush)!! I hope I at least partially answered your question; and if I didn’t I’d be more than happy to further explain my views!!

  6. autumnforest says:

    Absolutely–I’m with you! I love horror because it’s so far from my everyday world that it’s escapism. As you mentioned romance as an example, too much idealized examples of romance make women put together lists of everything they want in a man and how he should propose and how you can sleep with a guy one night and get pregnant and end up happily ever after (“knocked up”) . When a person watches a horror movie, they don’t say, “Gee, I wonder if my sharp kitchen knife could skin my mate like Michael Myers does in Halloween” but if I watch a romance movie, I sigh and complain that no man really gets what women need, then I get irritable and angry at men for not living up to it and then proceed to refuse to find the right man because none are like Mel Gibson in “What a Woman Wants.” Hmm…. You’re more likely to screw up because you watched romance than horror.

    • Absolutely AutumnForest!! I’ll take the scariest, creepiest monster or psycho killer over Jennifer Aniston ANY day of the week!!!

      • only.inhuman says:

        Yeah, I was going to point that out. And actually it’s the 6th. That’s Alex Shepard and that boss is hard as hell.

  7. pzomb says:

    I actually liked this movie but I seem to have a slightly different view of it than most who comment about it. I don’t watch a movie expecting gore (but it’s very welcome). I found the subject matter disturbing but with the tone that is set at the beggining I’d have been let down if they went for more gore than substance.

    This was a movie about the doctors obsession at creating his human centipede and nothing else mattered. No matter who tried to stop him he had to reach his goal and see it a success. Even the “segments” of his operation meant nothing to him as he could just replace them when needed.

    I see this like with Martyrs, alot people thought the second half of the movie was boring and made no sense. It’s more of a case of what the movie was TRYING to say and what people got out of it. These movies are ask the viewer to think outside of the actual plot and have an opinion on what is going on. Of course in this movie it’s one of disgust.

    I’m not saying this is an excellent movie, but it is good. It’s flawed but it’s also one that does not have the need of gore to shock people. Even at it’s effective scenes we don’t see what is happening but we know (I’m trying not to spoil the plot but I’m sure you can pick out the effective scenes) and that is where the power comes from.

    I think if I reviewed it I’d give it 2.5/3 out of 5, as yes it is flawed but has true potential. It’ll be interesting to see where the next movie takes the plot (lets just hope it improves).

    • Don’t misunderstand me Paul; I don’t need gore to like a movie. Like you, if there’s great gore in a strong movie then I see it as a bonus. My problem with Human Centipede is that it was over-hyped and called the most grotesque and GORY movie ever made. If you’re gonna hype it and promote it like that, well then you better deliver. I felt the same way after seeing M. Night’s The Village. That film was promoted and marketed as a horror movie and didn’t have one horror element in the entire flick.

      I also didn’t find Centipede disturbing AT ALL. There was nothing shocking or grotesque about it. I loved the character of Dr. Heiter and felt if not for him this would have been a total fucking train wreck. Besides wrongly marketing and over-hyping this film I also thought the pacing was completely off (too slow and plodding) and the entire cast, except for Dr. Heiter, was annoying beyond belief. I wish Heiter took another 5 minutes and cut everyone’s vocal chords!!!

      I can see what you’re getting at with Martyrs, but Martyrs is a SUPERIOR movie in every aspect (I listed Martyrs as the best horror movie of the last decade). I’ll give director Tom Six one more chance with Centipede 2, but he better step up his game!!!

      • pzomb says:

        Yeah, my comment on gore was not aimed at you but many horror fans in general. I think my view of the movie is that Dr. Heiter IS the movie, the rest of the characters are are just objects used to continue his story. Thats probably why they are all so annoying to the watcher because they are nothing but a hinderance to what the movie is, the first sequence of Heiters obsession. Having said that they don’t need to be so damn annoying.

      • I hear ya Paul!! I totally see what you’re getting at with Centipede; I just don’t think it was executed well at all and I was very disappointed with this one. Look at a film like Martyrs; it really wasn’t that gory, but goddamn I’ve never been gut-punched harder by a movie in my life!! The difference between Martyrs and Centipede (in my opinion) is in their executions.

  8. ReelyBored says:

    this really sucks, I was just about to watch this then was pointed towards your review. Boo, looks like i may have to skip it. we shall see

    • Sorry to burst your bubble ReelyBored but MAN Human Centipede was lame. Not disturbing in the least; not gory at all. HUGE disappointment. I’m actually curious for you to watch it and to hear your views on it … was I too hard on it (I don’t think so)??

  9. Alejandro Gomez Tamez says:

    I agree is not the best movie ever made, but I found it very original and I liked it. Six should have done a better job with the shots of the medical procedures to make it more real, I just find it extremely difficult to believe that the doctor´s procedure would work in the long run (and I am not a doctor). I am looking forward for Part II, and I will not be surprised if we see a remake of this movie in less than 5 years (but this time Hollywood style!). The potential of the film is huge, the idea is very clever, but I think Six lacked money to make what he wanted or may be he was afraid of scaring his investors. I read that Six did not tell his investors every thing about the type of movie he was gonna make until it was finished.

    • I do agree with a lot of what you say about THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE Alejandro, but there were way too many elements that pissed me off and didn’t work for me here …. at all. The 2 female leads were so goddamn annoying I couldn’t wait for them to either die or get the mouths sewn tightly to someone’s ass!! And I didn’t find anything in this film “extreme” or “pushing the envelope.” And th idea behind the film isn’t as original as everyone keeps saying … there’s a short story written by Ed Lee way before CENTIPEDE which has a very similar idea. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the short story. When I think of it I’ll post it.

      The one thing I really enjoyed about CENTIPEDE was the doctor’s performance … he was fantastic!!

  10. Jeremy says:

    Scene from the film Asphyxia? That’s a monster CALLED Asphyxia from Silent Hill 5.

  11. Godimbored says:

    Woz gunna watch this dunt think i’m gunna botha now :(

    • I’d pass on it Godimbored. The premise is great but your imagination can dream up more horrifying images than what we actually get in the final product. Very disappointed with this one!!

  12. o1 says:

    Human Centipede? Human Centipede 2!? Forget it – I’m waiting for the Human Millipede!! :D

  13. George says:

    Based on the trailer, it looks like a bad remake of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. While the girls are driving down the dark road, on their way to a flat tire, I’m almost waiting to hear a speech from Richard Nixon; and when they run through the rain towards the doctor’s house, why do I want to hold up a lighter and sing, “There’s a light, over at the Frankenstein place …”

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  • Some of my favorite horror movies:
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978)

  • Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)

  • Martyrs (2008)

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