The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence
by Jason Coffman
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Tom Six clearly believes in giving the people what they want. After causing a sensation with The Human Centipede— a film much more notorious for its bizarre central concept than for what it actually portrays on-screen— Six has returned with a sequel that delivers on whatever anyone may have thought was missing from the first film. There is no question that The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is every bit as disgusting and graphic as anyone could ever want, and then some. So the question then becomes: what’s the point of all this nasty business, anyway?
Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a parking garage attendant who lives with his abusive mother (Vivien Bridson), is a big fan of The Human Centipede. Such a big fan that he spends his entire work shift watching the film repeatedly, frequently masturbating while doing so, and he has scrapbooks filled with images of the film’s stars, posters, etc. Martin has a very unpleasant life: in addition to his hateful mother, he’s haunted by memories of sexual abuse by his father, he has a creepy therapist (Bill Hutchens) who obviously wants to molest him as well, and his noisy neighbors are constantly threatening violence. Into this bleak existence comes The Human Centipede, and with it an idea. Martin will make his own real-life Human Centipede.
This turns out to be a lot easier to do than it might initially sound, at least in Martin’s universe. Armed with a trusty tire iron, Martin knocks a succession of parking garage customers over the head and drags them to a large warehouse space procured in much the same way. That is, by knocking the owner over the head with his tire iron. The film falls into a rhythm fairly quickly: Martin knocks someone out with his tire iron, ties them up and leaves them in his work space, and gets yelled at by his mother. Repeat until the desired number of victims are gathered, and then it’s time to get to business: making a 12-person Human Centipede, mostly with a staple gun.
Although the first Human Centipede exists in Martin’s world, there is no mistaking it for the same universe we live in. First of all, it’s presented in dingy black & white, a distancing device to assure the viewer this is only a movie. Secondly, everyone in Martin’s world is extremely resilient, able to take multiple blows to the head with a tire iron in stride with only a short period of unconsciousness. The film’s inversion of the first film’s tagline— “100% Medically Inaccurate”— is no simple marketing gimmick. These people take more abuse than any human being could reasonably be expected to suffer and still live. The graphic violence is amped up to absurd levels that would be cartoonish if they weren’t so convincingly executed.
Still, the sense that Full Sequence is a cartoon version of the first film is enhanced by the fact that Martin (like, say, Wile E. Coyote) never speaks on camera for the entire film. In one sequence, Martin lures actress Ashlynn Yennie (from the first film, playing herself) into his trap by apparently convincing her agent that she’s up for an audition in the new Quentin Tarantino film. It’s particularly funny since it’s difficult to imagine Martin successfully ordering a sandwich, let alone talking someone’s agent into believing their client is up for a major audition in another country. There is a streak of bleakest, blackest humor running through Full Sequence, although it’s almost completely drowned in blood and other bodily fluids.
Unfortunately, that seems to be how the ever-increasing bro-cult of the Centipede wants it. If Six wanted to punish the audience by giving them what they want, it didn’t work— in this relationship, the fans seem to relish being presented with this kind of (literal) shitstorm. If he wanted to prove that detractors of the first film were overreacting about how disgusting it was, well even the infamous A Serbian Film is only a few notches higher on the scale than Full Sequence. Saying the first Human Centipede is not as gross as this one isn’t really saying much. Maybe the fact that Full Sequence and A Serbian Film were released in the States in the same year is what throws Full Sequence’s supposedly comic depravity into sharp contrast. Tom Six seems content to use the ultimate gross-out to both fuel and criticize fist-pumping audience reactions rather than address any real issues. Full Sequence seems to exist entirely to comment on its own existence and the existence of an audience who wants to see it. In the end, maybe that’s the real Human Centipede.
MPI Home Video and IFC Films released The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence on DVD and Blu-ray on 14 February 2012. Special features include commentary by Tom Six and Laurence R. Harvey, an interview with Tom Six, featurettes on the warehouse location, foley sound effects and the film’s poster, a deleted scene, and promotional bits including the film’s trailer.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and is a regular contributor to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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