Blu-ray Review: THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 (FULL SEQUENCE)

The BBFC didn't want you to see it, and to be honest, they were being considerate.

rating: 1.5

For ages I€™d avoided The Human Centipede. Even as a longtime fan of the horror genre, the bad taste plot and the negative word of mouth surrounding the film kept me uninterested. In many ways, The Human Centipede sounded less of an exercise in gruelling terror and more like an ill-fated Jackass stunt gone horribly wrong. Unfortunately, with all of the furore surrounding The Human Centipede 2, I knew that I€™d have to finally watch both the original and the controversial sequel - if only to see what all the fuss was about. Its planned straight-to-video release was canned back in June, after the film was rejected by the BBFC on the grounds of its explicit content and what the BBFC argue to be a €œstrong and sustained focus throughout the work on the link between sexual arousal and sexual violence€. The news hit the headlines of many film websites, with many criticizing the BBFC€™s decision to deny adult horror fans the right to see the film. After much speculation, the decision was contended by the films distributor (Bounty Films) who submitted a version of the film pre-cut by 2 minutes and 37 seconds, with the most troublesome moments snipped away. The film has finally made its way onto Blu-ray and will likely do far better than it would have initially, as controversy is the best advertising that a low-budget horror film can get. It€™s no longer a straight-to-video sequel to a film hardly anyone saw in the first place, but it€™s now as the cover art states €œ The film they didn€™t want you to see€. The Human Centipede 2 eschews the clinical more traditional narrative of the original for an unrelated real-world meta sequel, which cleverly uses the first film as a narrative device. We are introduced to Martin (Laurence R.Harvey), a lowly and mute car park attendant, who lives a squalid life of misery with his abusive mother and under the shadow of an abusive childhood. His depressing existence becomes driven solely by an unhealthy obsession with The Human Centipede, often watching the film on a continuous loop or documenting it in a seedy scrapbook that he keeps under his mattress. His obsession soon leads to him recreating the film using kidnapped car park attendees and turning them into his very own human centipede. Martin even goes so far as to kidnap one of the films cast members (Ashlynn Yennie) by telling her agent that she€™s been invited to a casting session for the latest Tarantino film. Laurence R.Harvey's wretched performance as Martin is easily the most interesting thing about the film (his looks have been frequently compared to Peter Lorre) especially as he never says a word throughout the whole thing. All we ever hear from Martin is the sound of his asthmatic coughing or occasionally laughing manically at his handiwork (on the basis of the rest of the dialogue, this is definitely a good thing). His performance sometimes veers into hammy pantomime - such as Martin€™s repeated act of seedily putting his fingers in his mouth - but he carries the film as best he can. It becomes increasingly clear that director Tom Six wants us to find Martin sympathetic, or even feel sorry for his life of abuse and misery, but it's so poorly handled he's never anything but loathsome. Within minutes of the film, Martin is seen committing a brutal attack, in a scene so poorly staged I thought it was a dream sequence€.. But no. Before we€™ve even established anything, the film plunges us right into a goretastic moment which immediately sets the exploitative tone of the rest of the film. Tom Six has argued that audiences will find themselves liking Martin, but the attempts to make us feel sorry for him come across as nothing but shoed in back-story - such as the fleeting references to Martin being sexually abused by his father. What€™s really strange about The Human Centipede 2 is that a lot of the time, it somehow verges from being disgusting and perverse to utterly hilarious - although it€™s certainly safe to say unintentionally so. There€™s the screechy overwrought performance of Martin€™s mother, some of the worst cockney accents since Green Street, and the dialogue contains such nuggets as €œThere€™s a midget wanking in there!". Sometimes laughing simply becomes a compulsive reaction to the sheer gratuitousness of certain scenes. Even after having suffered extensive cuts, this U.K release of The Human Centipede 2 is still one of the most disgusting films that I€™ve ever seen. Gone are extended sequences of people having their teeth smashed out, Martin masturbating with sandpaper, or most notably the removal of a scene in which a newborn baby is graphically killed - although oddly the moment in question can be partially seen in the special features. If you€™re one of the many people who found the first Human Centipede too tame, this sequel should still be approached with extreme caution - it leaves nothing to the imagination. The biggest problem with The Human Centipede 2 is that€™s impossible to work out who the intended audience is. It€™s not scary enough for horror fans, and the acting and dialogue are too inane for the film to be taken as a serious experimental work. The biggest problem is that the plot never gives us any reason to care about any of the grotesque set-pieces, or more troublesome, Martin and his victims. I ended up feeling bored throughout much of the film, often simply watching to see just how far Tom Six would go in his quest to disgust. What€™s left is a film that€™s only worth seeing for its depravity and unintentional moments of bad taste comedy. I€™ll give credit to Tom Six for following up the original with a genuinely interesting idea, but the film squanders its potential by trying too hard to repulse or simply due to laughably bad dialogue (€œHe€™s going to stitch us arse to mouth!!€) and shambolic plotting. It€™s an incredibly ugly film that aims for Eraserhead ambiance (complete with stark black and white visuals and ominous background sounds) but ends up more like a mix of Salo - without the political undertones - and the work of schlock studio Troma. Put it this way, the only colour in the entire movie is the putrid brown of squirting diarrhoea in what Tom Six calls a nod to the girl in the red coat from Schindler's List. I€™m sure that Steven Spielberg would feel honoured. Transfer This might be one of the few instances where I€™d suggest that good picture quality isn€™t necessarily a good thing. The Human Centipede 2's transfer is incredibly crisp and detailed, making the stark black and white cinematography is so vivid that you can almost smell the shit. Its also got perhaps the most impressively detailed beard I€™ve ever seen in HD. Extras The Human Centipede 2 comes to Blu-ray with a few added features, but there's nothing substantial. A brief making of documents the creation of some of the messiest scenes from the latter half of the movie, and it's surprising to see just how much fun everyone had making the film - even when being instructed to bite on the fake anus of another actor. Similarly, a short look at foley sessions for the film is a handy lesson in creating the sound of someone being raped by a man with barbed wire around his penis. A short interview with Tom Six has the director pointlessly attempting to try and rationalize the film, but it's a surprisingly fun piece as Six is actually quite a likable and well humored chap. Sporting a cowboy hat and thick dutch accent, he comes across as a strange mix of Robert Rodriquez and Lars Von Trier. Final Verdict The Human Centipede 2 is too poorly constructed to be frightening, too goofy to be truly shocking, and worst of all it's a bit of a bore. The only times it's enjoyable are when being unintentionally funny, thanks to several moments of sub-lynchian oddness. Recommended only for fans of extreme cinema who want to witness the birth of a future cult-classic. _____________ The Human Centipede 2 is released on Blu-ray today from Bounty Films.
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Cult horror enthusiast and obsessive videogame fanatic. Stephen considers Jaws to be the single greatest film of all-time and is still pining over the demise of Sega's Dreamcast. As well regularly writing articles for WhatCulture, Stephen also contributes reviews and features to Ginx TV.