The Human Centipede (2009)

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Released 6-Oct-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-From Director Tom Six
Interviews-Crew-With Director Tom Six
Featurette-Making Of
Interviews-Crew-Press interview with Director Tom Six
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Six and Laser at a press conference doing Q & A
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Casting session with Williams & Yennie
Featurette-Foley session
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 88:17 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Tom Six
Studio
Distributor
Monster Pictures
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Dieter Laser
Ashley C. Williams
Ashlynn Yennie
Akihiro Kitamura
Andreas Leupold
Peter Blankenstein
Bernd Kostrau
Rene de Wit
Sylvia Zidek
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Patrick Savage
Holeg Spies


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"Their flesh is his fantasy"

     The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a horror film that generates a lot of comment. Is it scary? Not really. Is it gross? I guess so. Is it good? Well depends on who you ask. I think most people preparing to view this film know the basic premise so the following is not really a spoiler. Suffice to say that here we have a mad surgeon who has a dream to create a pet by joining people together - anus to mouth - as in a human centipede. Yep that's pretty bizarre. As written and directed by Dutch film maker Tom Six, The Human Centipede asks us to suspend a lot of belief in bringing this story to life.

     The film opens with Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) apparently shooting a driver who has stopped by the side of a road to relieve himself. We then see two American tourists in Germany, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) making preparations to attend a local nightclub. Their car breaks down in the woods so they decide to walk for help through the rain. There they stumble upon the house of retired surgeon Heiter who offers them refuge. It is apparent early on that Heiter is one strange dude - professing a dislike and intolerance of humans although being a famous surgeon. He offers them a glass of water (apparently he has no time for coffee and the like), laced with rape drug Rohypnol. After some of the water is spilled Heiter throws a hissy fit and administers an injection to finally knock out his victims.

     The girls wake up bound in a starkly furnished room set out like a hospital ward with the first seen driver in an accompanying bed. We realise now that he was shot with a tranquilizer dart rather than a bullet. Unfortunately for him however it seems that he is not suitable for the next step in Heiter's plans and so is killed through a lethal injection. Japanese tourist Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura) replaces the driver and it is then that the doctor's full plans are revealed. Heiter explains that he specialised in separating Siamese twins but now dreams of creating a new creature, and demonstrates via diagrams his proposed technique. Needless to say our three captives are not keen on this idea and Lindsey manages temporarily to escape. As punishment for this Heiter decides to make her the middle link in the human chain. Nice.

     Heiter completes his work in joining the three together with Lindsay in the middle, Katsuro at the front, and Jenny at the rear, and begins to delight in his new pet. Katsuro is the only one that can speak now (of course) and also has the benefit of being able to eat real food rather than someone else's faeces. Despite this real advantage Katsuro screams and yells incessantly in Japanese which irritates Heiter who begins to miss the peace and quiet of being a lone mad surgeon. After a few days local detectives, Kranz (Andreas Leupold) and Voller (Peter Blankenstein), visit the doctor during their investigations into the disappearance of our tourists. The detectives realise that something very weird is up with Heiter but are forced to leave and then return after securing a search warrant. Unfortunately for the plods, however, Heiter has planned to make them a part of his centipede after discarding Jenny who has not coped well from the operation and is dying. Needless to say mayhem breaks out at this point as the detectives resist Heiter's plans and the human centipede attempts escape.

     Director Tom Six clearly sets out to disturb his audience and to a large extent succeeds. As far as I know this storyline has not been used before so in that respect it is unique, nevertheless - and maybe I'm a bit jaded - this viewer did not respond with slack-jawed amazement. The two girls Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie show, whilst they are able to speak, an unimpressive acting range. Oddly enough their performances improve when their mouths are disabled, with facial expressions conveying the experience more convincingly. Akihiro Kitamura spends most of his screen time yelling in Japanese, but has a few good moments - especially towards the end. Dieter Laser apparently fashioned his performance on a stereotypical Hitler portrayal and does a great job. I get the feeling he could do this sort of role without even trying. The rest of the cast are adequate enough with the two detectives adding the right amount of tension at the film climax. The make-up effects are very well done for a low budget film and, although not explicit, conveyed the painful melding of bodies in a convincing manner. The closing scenes with the centipede in full motion made this viewer cringe as the stitches and staples were being stressed with the subsequent pain quite evident. Judging from reported viewer responses there is a wide variety of opinions on the effectiveness of this movie. Many found it truly disturbing, Japanese audiences apparently found it amusing (go figure). I, and many others, found it profoundly uninteresting.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     This film is in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This print is very nicely presented with contrasting clinically blue palettes for some scenes mixed with warm and saturated scenes. Six explains in the commentary why these were chosen and I agree with him that it works well. Director of Photography Goof de Koning (yes, that's his name) has done a very good job in creating the sort of visual atmosphere that would endear itself to a mad and obsessed surgeon. The interior scenes are all obsessively sharp and bright and polished. Fine details in close-up scenes are all faithfully reproduced with the prosthetic effects looking uncomfortably realistic. Blacks and colours were generally good although I thought the blood was a little off hue. There were no significant instances of macro blocking or compression artefacts.

     Overall the video quality is rated as very good.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio track is a very lack lustre Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s. With surround processing enabled there are some directional effects but basically all the actions come from your fronts. Similarly the subwoofer also gets the time off with no action required. Fortunately however this film is very dialogue driven so not having surround effects does not detract significantly. The dialog is always easy to understand and there are no synchronisation issues. There are a couple of dropouts at 17:02 and 17:04 which were evident on all my players. The second one is accompanied with a slight video wrinkle as well so it may be a pressing or dirt issue with the disc I reviewed. The accompanying music and ambient effects are quite well done and in keeping with the movie itself.

     This audio track overall is disappointing but adequate.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu featured looping video and audio excerpts from the movie.

Director's Commentary

     Six provides a quite interesting commentary to his feature with topics covering actor selections, concept creation, special effects, and filming challenges. His Dutch accent and turns of phrase are quite endearing on occasions. I found it more interesting than the film itself.

     All the following extras are 1.78:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kb/s audio.

Interview With Tom Six (5:07)

     Six explains about how the idea was created, whether the procedure is medically possible (apparently it is), whether there will be a remake (unfortunately yes), and audience reactions.

The Making Of (8:40)

     Fairly short featurette on location and in the studio. Includes the cast hamming it up on occasion. Not much explanation of what is going on however.

Tom Six Press Interview (23:39)

     Six is again being interviewed with a focus on the film conception and production. Quite interesting with Six obviously believing he's achieved something quite monumental with this movie.

Questions And Answers (22:08)

     Six and Laser at a press conference.

Deleted Scene (1:26)

     Yep - pretty obvious why this was cut out. Laser shows he would be a menace on the dance floor doing the funky chicken.

Casting Session (2:04)

     Williams and Yennie acting out a couple of scenes during a New York casting session. Includes some stills in the (almost) centipede position.

Foley Session (4:41)

     Home movie style filming of mostly chicken bits and carcases (including a sheep head) being prepared for special effects. We don't actually see how they are used which would have been interesting (and probably more disturbing than the film itself).

Theatrical Trailer (2:24)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This release appears identical to the Region 1 version apart from PAL and NTSC formats. There is a Blu-ray version (reviewed on this site here) but really I doubt it would have significantly more to offer visually or audibly than this DVD version.

Summary

     The Human Centipede promotes itself on the cover with this review quote - "Is this the sickest film ever made?". Well I'd answer with a resounding no. The idea is intriguing but once the deed is done there is very little left to interest the viewer. If it wasn't for the maniacal performance of Laser as the demented surgeon there would be nothing noteworthy at all. In his commentary Six described Laser as looking like an "evil turtle". Spot on Six - he does too! Six will have to up the ante significantly for his follow up movie to get any legs (ha ha) because this reviewer at least won't be rushing to watch it. The Human Centipede is an example where self generated hype far outweighs the product itself. Reportedly many found this film truly disturbing but I found it to be a bore.

     The video quality is very good. The audio quality is adequate. Extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

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