The benefit of streaming services, be it Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Stan or whatever, is that provided there is stuff on there that you actually want to watch, you avoid the old problem of whether to blind buy or not. For viewers who have forked out money on a DVD or Blu-Ray of something they believe they might like, only to regret it later after realising they'd wasted money that would have been better used on something - anything - else (or at least given to charity), streaming services are a godsend..
|Director: Tom Six
Stars: Dieter Laser, Laurence R. Harvey, Bree Olsen, Eric Roberts, Robert LaSardo
Writers: Tom Six
I say this because, as a fan of the first two films in The Human Centipede series, I would most likely have forked out cash on this third chapter. Well, thank God for Netflix is all I can say. It's difficult to even recommend fans of the series hand over money to rent this remarkably inept and tone-deaf film, let alone a full-price purchase for a disc.
The so-called "final sequence" in writer/director Tom Six's stupendously icky horror film franchise is - if quality is anything to go by - hopefully the last. Even fans of the first two films in The Human Centipede series would find it hard to warm to this monumentally cancerous sequel. It's as misguided, poorly-paced and unpleasant a film as you're likely to find, and that's really saying something in a film series that revolves around the concept of stitching people's mouths to other people's anuses.
As for the plot this third time around, it's become so meta that it has disappeared up its own arsehole, which is perhaps fitting considering its concept. Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) is a sadistic warden of a US penitentiary who, despite his predilection for torturing prisoners, his violent tendencies and obscenely revolting and dangerous behaviour, has somehow held on to his job. God only knows why: the prison is renowned for being one of the worst in the country, with high levels of injuries, deaths and riots, and Boss himself is completely unhinged. The state governor (Eric Roberts), wants to see some changes to the prison, as he's sick of the bad publicity, and given that it is an election year for him he actually has to look like he gives a shit. Bill Boss' lickspittle Dwight Butler (Laurence R Harvey) has a plan to get the inmates in line. No, it's not a plan to remove Boss from his position, install a rational warden and functional support staff, and improve conditions in the prison. No, Butler seems fascinated by the Human Centipede movies (that is, the first two - even this film isn't so meta as to reference itself) and wants to create the world's largest human centipede out of the prisoners. He believes - human rights issues aside - that this will keep the prison population in line and make Boss famous across the country. So the duo set Butler's plan in motion, with predictably horrific results.
Clearly writer/director Tom Six figured the best way to go for the series was into ridiculous, black humour territory. And he's kinda right. There are moments where this approach actually works - you sit watching in amazement, only for a smile to crawl across your face almost despite yourself. It's not exactly a black comedy, but rather a series of stupid shit interspersed with farcical overacting and gross-out gags that Six throws at the screen in a hope that some of it sticks.
But unfortunately it's as if Six has forgotten how to make a movie. Not even a good movie, mind you, but just a watchable one. Say what you will about the first two Human Centipede movies, but they were at least competently made and undeniably effective. Part III is a mess and a slog to get through, the soggy middle section weighing down the film like a waterlogged corpse. It's also a remarkably ugly film, the setting, set design and cinematography combining to quite unappealing levels. And I don't mean that this look suits the material in the same way that the low budget and graininess of Tobe Hooper's Texas Chain Saw Massacre suited it. The look and feel of The Human Centipede III works against it in much the same way as the cinematography in Michael Mann's Public Enemies. You don't become absorbed in the story, you're constantly battling against your urge to turn the damn thing off.
What happened? The first Human Centipede got by due to the sheer outrageousness of the concept, as well as Dieter Laser's effective Dr. Frankenstein-ian performance. The second film upped the gore and gross-out quotient considerably, but also served as a clever meta-joke and was competently staged and filmed. This third film, by comparison, is simply amateurish and tiresome. Worse, it's boring, something I thought I'd never criticise a Human Centipede film of being. Gross, un-PC, pointless, childish, sure - but boring? God forbid. One hopes this is most definitely "The Final Sequence" as the title states.
The performances are truly awful. Porn star Bree Olson, who plays Boss's eternally suffering secretary, tries her best but remains pretty wooden, although given her material even Meryl Streep would have difficulty making it her lines sound genuine. She's subjected to some of the worst treatment of any of the characters in the film - the stuff that Boss makes her do is truly revolting, and although filmmakers can get unfairly accused of misogyny simply because a character in their film has misogynistic tendencies, it's hard to shake that feeling here. Laurence R Harvey, who played the main protagonist Martin in The Human Centipede II, does absolutely nothing with his administrative gnome role, and speaks with an appalling Southern accent that doesn't convince even once. Tom Six appears as himself, the writer and director of the first two Human Centipede films, pitching his concept to Boss and feverishly anticipating what it will be like to see the centipede in the flesh. Unfortunately his performance is as stilted and forced as the others, and what might have been an amusing and knowing joke simply misses the mark entirely. And Eric Roberts simply shows up for the cheque, phoning in his performance so much he might as well have been a CGI creation from Weta.
But it's Dieter Laser who will linger in the mind the longest, though not necessarily for good reasons. He gives one of the most bizarre, off-the-wall performances I've seen in years. He doesn't just chew the scenery, he devours it, throws it up, licks it off the floor and then fucks it. It's an astonishing performance, because you've quite literally never seen anything so demented, unrestrained and awful in the one package. Subtitles are undoubtedly required, because I could only understand every second sentence Laser screeches or blubbers or hisses through clenched teeth.
So what about the horror, at least? After all, you don't see movies like The Human Centipede for sublime acting, sparkling dialogue or sterling cinematography. Well, sure. If you like icky shit, then The Final Sequence has you covered. Amongst a litany of other gag-inducing horrors, we get:
a close up castration
a dream sequence where Boss imagines he is being fucked in the kidneys by an inmate (yes, you read that right)
close-ups of a mouth and anus being sewed together in lingering detail
Boss sexually assaulting his comatose secretary, claiming that "beaten women make him so horny", and
most horrifically of all, an agonisingly long sequence involving Deiter Laser's "o-face" as his secretary sucks him off.
However even if the above descriptions are enough to pique your interest, be forewarned that you have to sit through a lot - and I mean A LOT - of rubbish dialogue taking place in the one location (Bill Boss's office) and put up with Dieter Laser's endless screaming, frothing and gurning in what must have been a deliberate decision to turn in the most insane and baffling performance since Tommy Wiseau in The Room. And by the time we actually get to the massive human centipede, because of the horrors that preceded it and the fact we've seen the centipede twice before, it lacks any impact whatsoever. You simply shrug, look at your watch and wait for the film to sputter and die.So consider this once-notorious film series dead and buried. The first film's concept got the moral crusaders up in arms, and the second film's content almost got the film banned, and ultimately censored, in Australia but this third time around there was barely a ripple of protest. Despite the extreme content, no one gave a shit this time. Maybe Tom Six didn't either when he was making it. No one watching it surely will.