A repentant re-review from Annabelle Lecter
When I first watched this film I was afraid to say this, and so I didn’t. But… I didn’t really like it. Now before I get stolen off to the centipede production plant or fist-bumped for turning away from my life of moral crime, let me continue.
I wanted to love this, oh did I want to. When I watched "The The Human Centipede: First Sequence" for the first time it was late 2012. I was at the back end of the hype with no sense of urgency to watch it, but when I did I fell hard for the twisted revival of the classic mad doctor story, and then was utterly impressed with the incredible transformation to the equally well produced yet distinctly different "The The Human Centipede 3: Full Sequence". I’ve found both are clever, stylish, perfectly cast, and can be interpreted as serious as well as comedic. They boldly reject the modern formula for mainstream success favoring the pursuit of infamy over box office sales. The mouth to anus punchline acts like a magnet pulling some and repelling others with not much space for a neutral opinion. Though chucked into the blood, mucus, and semen crusted depths of the waste bin labelled “torture porn”, a catch-all term for misfit horror films that have a heavy-handed helping of sadistic dehumanization, the "Human Centipede" films have always been able to reach their stink to the cleanest of nostrils. They have transcended the boundaries between mainstream audiences and the horror culture creating a unique cross-cultural hysteria that may have faded from its original intensity but has never totally lost it’s power. All of these characteristics together have made me a devotee. Three years of patience and rumor-jumping are now past, and "The Human Centipede III: Final Sequence" is here. And I didn’t like it.
Wait wait wait… put down that Rohypnol and barbwire and let me explain!
I did not expect a comedy, and that was my error. Although I smile many a dark smile with both "First" and "Full Sequence", the presentation of the humor in "The Human Centipede" films had always been a little on the deviant-inside-joke-for-sick-bastards side. Meaning the average person might watch those films and see absolutely no humor, not even an attempt at humor, and the sick person could silently pretend that they just thought of them as crazy horror movies and didn’t actually find humiliation, brutality, sexual abuse, and torture as acceptable gateways to a good laugh.
So I expected that same secret handshake, “Hey there my fellow twisted pervert!” with a wink wink nudge nudge. That is not there. There is no secret. There is no handshake. It’s out. If those two movies were a secret handshake this is the equivalent of screwing on top of an elephant in the middle of traffic on The Brooklyn Bridge.
This movie is a comedy. It is not a horror movie. It just isn’t. I don’t even know if it will be allowed to have the label “comedy”, or even “black comedy”. Just as the first two were rejected as horror by many hardcore horror fans, I’m quite sure this won’t end up in the pile with "Caddyshack" and "Mrs. Doubtfire". "Blazing Saddles" potty humor and "Shaun of the Dead"’s integration of gore and comedy are as tame as dead goldfish next to "THCIII". In fact these films need their own special category. They really shouldn't be called anything but by their respective titles. Because anyone looking for them or wanting to avoid them does not need to know if they are comedies or horrors. All they have to know is that they are "The Human Centipede" films. And that if you like them you are going straight to Hell. Any film audience that can get into making light of female circumcision practices by turning clitorises into Raisinettes, well, I guess I’ll be seeing you down there.
Thankfully, I just knew deep down that I could have been wrong with that first viewing. My rational mind had foolishly dismissed the fan praise and though I didn’t hate or find the film meritless, I wasn’t truly expecting much of a difference of opinion with a second viewing. Then a few friends who are not in the cult of THC were raving about it, and that was what did it. Within hours of one friend response I decided I needed it. Right now. $7 later, I was chewing my lip hoping I didn’t just blow away a caramel macchiato and toll money.
As with the first round, I wanted to believe - oh I so wanted to.
Maybe the first time was like staring into the sun when I’m used to using a flashlight. I’d like to find an excuse because, quite frankly, it’s embarrassing to have not seen it the first time. But now, my eyes have adjusted. I see the elephant. I’ve stepped out of my car and I’m looking right at it. And apparently, we get to take turns.
Everything I love about the other two - the style, the perfect casting, the anti-establishment throat chop. And if you are so inclined to find them, there are even a few layers of social commentary, whether legitimately thoughtful or simply an excuse to be incendiary. Regardless of the ultimate intent, there is a complete assault against the cultural taboo forbidding the use of humor with what are considered “sensitive” topics including the aforementioned humiliation, brutality, sexual abuse, and torture. But there’s actually even more to piss people off about, and why limit the film? Add racism and sexism on top of the pile. There’s probably loads more for people to get pissed off about. Maybe you won’t get offended, but there is a reason it is called “100% Politically Incorrect”. You know those people. Do they annoy you? Well then, here is the step ladder for the elephant. And a hint - he really likes those Raisinettes.