The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)
Directed by Tom Six
Screenplay by Tom Six
Laurence R. Harvey as Martin
Ashlynn Yennie as Miss Yennie
Maddi Black as Candy
How long is The Human Centipede II? 88 minutes.
What is The Human Centipede II rated? No MPAA rating (adults only).
Second Centipede Retains Humor, Ups Gore
What most people don’t know about The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is that it’s a comedy. A dark comedy, a horror comedy, but a comedy nonetheless. I’m not saying it’s the equivalent of Drag Me To Hell, Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn, or the Troma collection, but it’s closer in spirit to those movie than it is to the Saw or Hostel series. For those who doubt where writer/director Tom Six’s mind is, here’s the teaser trailer for the sequel.
He clearly understands and relishes the humor aspect of the genre.
The first Centipede starts like a conventional horror movie with main villain Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, doing his best impersonation of Udo Kier) capturing three victims for his now-infamous experiment. But once he has his patients, Dr. Heiter treats the scenario with professional seriousness and curiosity. Dr. Heiter is a scientist first and foremost, and this quality shows with his deadpan description of the surgery (in the most boiled down terms possible) and the way he observes his creature walking, eating, sleeping, etc.
Centipede is also a very sterile film, mostly lacking in blood and gore. Heiter’s performs his procedure very surgically, dresses the wounds, and provides the necessary drugs to allow his patients to live, more or less, comfortably and avoid infection. Whether or not it’s really 100% medically accurate as claimed, it’s presented in such a way that it seemed like it could be, which might be why many people found the first film so disturbing.
At the end of the first film, Dr. Heiter is shot through the brain by a police officer and supposedly dies. While one would expect The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) to follow the typical path of “oh, that bullet missed all the vital brain parts and Dr. Heiter’s back on the streets,” Six messes around with expectations by setting his new film in a world where The Human Centipede (First Sequence) exists as a film. And a mentally deranged man is dangerously obsessed with it. The concept might sound similar to the ill-conceived Blair Witch Project sequel, but it works much better here.
The villain in this piece is Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), an overnight London garage security guard who looks like a mix between Michael Emerson and Mickey Rooney with bits of Newman from Seinfeld thrown in. He is a grotesque creature (and Six makes his bloated subject appear even more disgusting than his later creation) who devotes his entire life to The Human Centipede (First Sequence). (And no, the film does not try to make some deeper point about the nature of celebrity or man’s obsession with pop culture. This isn’t The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs.)
Martin watches the DVD of the first movie on a constant loop, pleasures himself to it (with sand paper as lube), dresses like Dr. Heiter, and keeps a scrapbook complete with replicas of Heiter’s surgical drawings. Although lacking any surgical skills himself, Martin sees the first film as an instructional manual and studies it as fact, with the ultimate goal of creating his own 12-person centipede.
Instead of jumping right into centipeding, Six spends the majority of the sequel allowing us to experience Martin’s life. It’s a very surreal and uncomfortable place, and this portion seems more like an experimental film than a horror movie. Filming Centipede II in black-and-white rather than color definitely adds to this ambiance. Martin sleeps on a soiled mattress, walks around in stained underwear, and lives with his comparably disturbed mother. It’s actually the best (and funniest) part of this movie, the eeriest section of either film, and shows that Six could do more than stitch people together anus to mouth.
Once Martin gets all his victims (including the first film’s star Ashlynn Yennie) primarily by shooting and tire-ironing people looking for their vehicles, Centipede II switches gears and becomes a gross-out horror comedy. This segment comes across as a ‘screw you’ from Six to those critics of the first film who never saw the first film by filling it with all the extreme gore people thought the first Centipede would provide. Lacking the surgical training or instruments of Dr. Heiter, Martin relies on rusted tools and kitchen equipment to remove his patients’ skin, lips, and teeth. People bleed out. Surgical precision is replaced with mess. Instead of surgical staples, Martin uses a staple gun and duct tape. There is a poo joke that lasts at least five minutes, and make no mistake, it is a poo joke. That the film is black-and-white probably lessens the impact of actually seeing the reds and the browns.
Ultimately, the joke wears a little thin after awhile. Part of the appeal of the first film was that the comedy, horror, and gross elements were treated (relatively) subtly. With the second film, Six plays everything broader. The comedy is more obvious and the disgusting elements are left less to the imagination than to the screen. Although it lacks the cleverness of the first film, if Six’s intention was to make a film to provide a counterpoint to his first work and to clear up misconceptions by making a film that played to the worst of those misconceptions, it makes you appreciate what he wanted to accomplish, if not the film itself.