Posted by: John Gholson
Did I detect a bit of subtext at work in Tom Six’s creep-out THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE? Could the movie actually be about how the shallow, impersonal connections we make with others cause us to lose our humanity? I believe so, and that’s more than I expected from a movie about a guy obsessed with sewing people together mouth-to-anus to form a living chain of horror.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE is also a strong revival of the long-dead “mad scientist” sub-genre of horror (something the upcoming SPLICE is looking to keep alive). We get a regular stream of vampires and slashers on a monthly basis, but we’ve gone without a good mad scientist for too long now. I didn’t even know I missed the dusty old trope until I saw Dieter Laser as Dr .Heiter, getting sexual satisfaction from administering shots or outlining the specifics of his experiment to his captive victims with blackly comic arrogance.
The set-up — a car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, two American girls wander in the rain before finding help at a creepy German’s house — is intentionally hokey, playing on audience expectations. We’ve seen this story before right? Of course, the crazy German guy will try to kill them. Wrong. He wants them very much alive; he just doesn’t want them to stay human. He needs a new pet — a human centipede.