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The Strange Things Boutique




Blu-ray / DVD. Bounty Films.

Human Centipede 2Censorship, as we all know, is an ass. What was, we’re told, a threat to society yesterday is perfectly fine today, and I can’t think of a single case where the cutting or banning of a film has been shown by history to be the right move. The recent debacle involving The Human Centipede 2 is a good case in point, and you can’t help but think that the BBFC have simply exposed themselves to both ridicule and enhanced scrutiny by allowing the film out with just under three minutes of cuts, just a few months after declaring it to be entirely unsuitable for release. Not only does it expose their inconsistencies (not to mention their cynical, greedy ways – the resubmission would have been accompanied by another large cheque) but also allows a wider audience to see just how nonsensical their original assessment of the film - as shown in their notoriously judgemental; press release at the time – was. According to the BBFC, The Human Centipede 2 sat somewhere between Nazi war crimes footage and the mythical snuff movie. Rarely has a film been so astonishingly and deliberately misrepresented.

In fact, The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) – or ‘not quite full sequence’ as it is now – is a very stylised, absurdist black comedy and smart critique of the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ mentality that is so prevalent amongst though who think they should control what we see. Unlike the ‘100% medically accurate’ original, this film is painstakingly unrealistic – from the black and white visuals, automatically removing the events from reality, to the weird characters – reminiscent of David Lynch’s Eraserhead - and self-consciously stilted, bizarre dialogue. Add in Tom Six’s off-centre camera angles and the ludicrous nature of the story, and you have a film that is as far from an instruction manual for psychopaths as you could get. Not top mention that central character Martin is hardly someone people will choose to identify (even the most socially awkward viewer might find this guy a bit of an oddball) and his efforts to emulate the actions of Dr Heiter in the first film just prove that copying what you see in movies is never quite as easy as the film’s make it look. The first film, much more realistic and straight-faced, is much more of a potential danger for viewers (if you subscribe to that idiotic belief) than this.

Human Centipede 2The story follows mentally deficient car park attendant Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) who has developed an obsession with the original Human Centipede, and is determined to create his own version, kidnapping twelve people – including original film star Ashlynn Yennie – and attempting to imitate the actions of his hero. Martin is a pretty sorry character – sexually abused by his now-imprisoned father, hated by his mother, preyed up on by the family doctor, threatened by his thuggish neighbour and generally put upon by all around him. You could argue that the film is a warning about what happens when you push outsiders further into the margins, as we’ve seen in cases from Hungerford to Columbine and beyond - but of course, that’s not something anyone cares to listen too. Much easier to blame movies and music for tipping people over the edge that to accept that social bullying and isolation inevitably breeds monsters.

Not that we should get too deeply into this film – as mentioned earlier, this is very much a black comedy, closer to Monty Python than Guinea Pig in approach. Sure, there are gross-out moments (fewer in this edit, of course), but these are so excessive – the whole idea is so excessive – that only an idiot could take it seriously.

Kudos to Harvey, who manages to be creepy, touching and weirdly sympathetic without a single line of dialogue. His expressions of child-like joy at moments of success, his despair when things don’t work out, the pain of his life – Harvey creates a fully rounded character out of his monster. He’s hardly an admirable figure, but Martin is much more human than he could’ve been. Credit too, to the rest of cast who have the most thankless roles in cinema history, but who manage to pull of the combination of horror and absurdity very well.

HUman Centipede 2Six’s decision to release the film in black and white is an inspired one – unlike some other recent monochrome movies, this actually feels like it could’ve been made decades ago (content aside) and the lack of colour – except in a brief, shit-stained splash – actually makes the gore more graphic – the thick black blood having a realism that much movie gore doesn’t each. With a rumbling soundtrack (another nod to Eraserhead?), the film feels dark and grim, which just makes the blackness of the comedy all the more effective.

The cuts, of course, hurt. To the credit of all involved, most are smoothly done – if you didn’t know better, you might not know you were missing anything in most sequences (and to make it all the more pointless, much of what is left in is just as explicit as what has been taken out; how a scene of someone having their teeth smashed in could be more graphic than the footage included here is anyone’s guess, for instance). But there are exceptions to this, and one cut – spoiler coming up – effectively changes the ending of the film. By removing the car crash where the baby’s head is crushed, the film now effectively has the pregnant woman successfully escape – we see her drive off and that’s that. As she would’ve presumably made contact with the authorities, it’s safe to assume that Martin may well have been apprehended. This edit and context change is up there with James Ferman’s notorious re-editing of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (another film we were once told was a threat to society but which is now available uncut) in terms of destroying what the filmmaker was trying to say.

Human Centipede 2Of course, the final scene might well suggest that all we’ve just seen has been Martin’s fantasy, rather than actual events… but that’s a debate to have over a few beers.

While mainstream critics will line up to attack The Human Centipede 2, and the more too-cool-for-school (or neo-prohibitionist) genre fans will sneeringly dismiss it as crass, populist trash –much as they did with the first film – the truth is that this is a remarkable sequel: brave, witty, original, disturbing and confrontational. The cuts are annoying, but they shouldn’t put you off watching what is one of the most daring horror movies of recent years.

The DVD includes a brief deleted scene (not the ones we want to see!), an amusing behind-the-scenes featurette, Tom Six interviewed and foley recordings. A Six commentary would’ve been nice, but given the delays in the release, its absence is understandable.





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The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
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The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Buy This