Monday, April 26, 2010

Gross-Out: The Human Centipede

If this film is really “100% medically accurate,” than I’m Doctor Kildare. For the edification of those not eating, the procedure in question involves grafting human intestinal tracks together into a centipede-like monstrosity. Yes, it is a sensitive coming of age story and a sophisticated comedy of manners, just with people connected throat to butt. Destined to become a gross-out cult favorite, Tom Six’s The Human Centipede (First Sequence) opens Friday in New York.

Two American tourists find themselves stranded in nowhere, Germany when their rental breaks down. Leaving the car in a rain storm, they set off looking for the creepiest house they can find. One look at Dr. Heiter’s pad, with the weird Siamese twin décor, should have been enough to send them screaming into the woods. However, they stay long enough for him to slip them a couple ruffies and the next things they know, they are handcuffed to hospital gurneys, about to be connected to a very angry Japanese expat.

The details of life as a human centipede are not pleasant. The lead pede eats for all three, “feeding” them with his waste. The middle position is the most painful, being conjoined on both ends. Of course, such an operation is an abomination against nature, leading to severe health problems for Heiter’s victims and even more on-screen grossness.

As Heiter, German actor Dieter Laser makes a good twitchy, scenery chewing horror movie villain. While Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie are just distractingly dumb as the female pedes, but Akihiro Kitamura actually acquits himself with some dignity as their Japanese lead segment.

Centipede is the sort of film that inspires audiences to yell “foul” at the screen. However, this is not Birdemic. Six sets the unsettling mood quite effectively and Goof de Koning’s cinematography has a professional sheen. Not that it really matters in a film like this, but Six’s story is a bit thin. He has his bizarre concept, but the plot points surrounding it are fairly standard mad doctor material. Still, when he unveils his handiwork, it is cinema history of a kind.

Look, you should know by now if Centipede is the film for you. Disgusting in a darkly comic way but professionally produced, it is likely destined to become a midnight movie favorite. For the adventurous types, it opens in New York at the IFC Center this Friday (4/30).