Horror Chick: Do Not See ‘The Human Centipede’ Unless You Are a Sick, Sick Puppy, And Even Then Reconsider
It’s time to add a new type of bad movie to the ever-growing list: The aggressively bad movie. There’s no ironic badness or nudge-nudge wink-ery here-it’s more like “screw you, you were sucker enough to see this movie and now we will do our best to make bile shoot straight up your esophagus and launch out your nostrils” bad. Our prime example: The Human Centipede (in theaters-or maybe just one theater, IFC). “Wait,” you say, “isn’t that the ‘ass-to-mouth’ movie?” Yes. Yes it is. In every literal and figurative sense.
Creating the deliberate gross-out is a key component of horror-using cinema to evoke that sick twisting in your stomach when you’re confronted by something so nasty you instinctively cover your eyes. Much as I oh-so-subtly loathe him, Eli Roth can do a gross-out with the best of them-take the Achilles heel scene in Hostel. An effective gore scene isn’t just a matter of presenting all the necessary factors in the right order. It takes skill, and nuance, and purpose. Putting all the ingredients of a meatloaf on a countertop does not a dinner make, and simply taking the most fucked up concept anyone can think of and plunking it into a movie does not equal good horror. It’s more like eating a pound of raw ground beef slathered in ketchup.
Which brings us to The Human Centipede, AKA “That movie that shows you ass to mouth! Yup, we said ASS TO MOUTH! Did you get that?! You know what we mean, right?? Don’t you want to SEE it now? Guys??” As expected, the plot is merely a vehicle for the rampant ass-to-mouthery: A psychotic German (redundant?) surgeon wants to sew three humans together to realize some moronic vision he’s had since childhood or whatever. So he does. And it’s fucking disgusting.
Here’s a look for yourself (kudos to the folks at IFC for managing to cut this fetid shitpile into some semblance of a decent trailer):
If you want more detailed clips, they’re on Youtube, but I have an obligation to any God that will still have me not to post them here.
Look, I’m not saying that good horror isn’t often built on a repulsive concept. That’s its job: To confront us with horrific things, make us contemplate the unthinkable, and thereby lead us (in my view, anyway) to a greater truth-that life is brutally random and often too short, so we should enjoy each moment to the fullest blah blah blah. I make light of it, but it’s a point that never loses its power or authenticity-which is why horror movies continue to have impact.
But garbage like this is not chasing anything remotely true or meaningful. There’s no higher purpose-or even just cheap entertainment from a good gory thrill. This isn’t fun in any sense of the word. Nor is it well acted (the villain is a shite combo of Dr. Caligari and Sean Penn stuck in a tea party rally), or well written, or even well conceived-let’s not even touch the medical impossibility of keeping three human beings alive after being sewn together, when two of them have no way of ingesting real food or water. The writers try to feed us some BS line about the two American girls being a “tissue match”-and then somehow both of them also “match” with a random Japanese dude? Please. Stop treating your audience like morons. Granted, this is an ASS TO MOUTH movie, so maybe I ask too much.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say this movie isn’t even horror. Watching churlish teens get chased down and slaughtered by a madman with a mission-that’s horror. Watching a clownish German yell “Feed her!” as a Japanese guy shits in a girl’s mouth-that’s just fetish porn. All I could do besides fight the nausea (and yes, I can say this is the first horror movie I’ve ever seen that brought on nausea-and not minor nausea, but “Oh shit I better know where the nearest bathroom is” nausea) was feel sorry for the actors who signed on to this literal shitshow. This kind of movie is worse than a casting couch. Worse than hardcore porn, even. At least in porn you retain some modicum of dignity. Not much-but more than you get crawling on your hands and knees for 45 minutes with your face grafted to a Japanese dude’s anus and your butt surgically joined to your best friend’s face.
Not too surprisingly, I’ve gotten into a few fights with (sick, twisted) folks who actually liked this movie. “It’s unforgettable!” they argue. “It stays in your memory forever!” Yes, and so does that field hockey game where my ACL was snapped like a twig by some Sidwell chick with a left tackle build. These two memories can now live side-by-side, along with my uncle’s death and the time a right-wing blogger told me to partial-birth abort myself.
So for the record: this movie is a pulsating globule of sleaze, and if you liked it then please never sit near me on a bus or subway car. And if you do, know that I carry pepper spray and nunchucks.
Melissa Lafsky is dead serious. You’d better stay the hell away.