October 12, 2011
Laurence R. Harvey as Martin
Ashlynn Yennie as Miss Yennie
Vivien Bridson as Mrs. Lomax
Bill Hutchens as Dr. Sebring
Without spoilers, it’s safe to say the first Human Centipede has a pretty tidy conclusion. Thus, how do you make a sequel? Easy! In The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence we meet Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), an obese and mentally slow London car park employee who lives with his mother (Vivien Bridson) and has a history of childhood sexual abuse. Martin discovered the “joys” of The Human Centipede: First Sequence and has become obsessed with it. He watches it endlessly while at his job and has created a homemade scrapbook of publicity photos and drawings related to the film, fetishizing the film, the centipede, and the villain Dr. Heiter. His obsession builds until it reaches a crescendo when his mother discovers his collection and destroys it. This sends him over the edge and drives him to try to complete his secret dream. They said the first film was “100% Medically Accurate”; That a surgeon could actually attempt the operation. Martin, however, thinks he can do better. All he needs are some standard hardware tools, twelve people, and maybe one of the original pieces of the centipede, Ashlynn Yennie.
There’s an easy way to describe The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence: picture the first film, then, while keeping the same basic concept, do EVERYTHING the exact opposite way. Instead of analytical and scientific Dr. Heiter, with his skinny body type and militaristic, precision operation, we have Martin, the yin to his yang in every way. Where the first film was in color and antiseptically clean, this one is black and white and features a run-down, dilapidated warehouse. As the first film chose not to show the operation, the blood, or the bodily fluids one would associate with connecting three people ass-to-mouth… this one shows you everything. And by everything, I mean I have a list I copied down that is sixteen or so items long of brutality, violence, gore, and disgust.
Interesting thing about that list though… it’s entirely from the last 30 minutes of the movie. Not coincidentally, that was also when the only person to walk out of the screening did so: at the hour mark (seriously, how do you end up at a screening of THIS MOVIE and not find out what it is first?). This points to a vital difference between the two films. In Human Centipede: First Sequence, I found no joy, comedy, no laughter. It was brutal and intense on an emotional, psychological, and cerebral level for the majority of its runtime. There was no happy ending though I heard people leaving trying to make one. It simply wasn’t there leaving me depressed, shaken, yet somehow also intrigued in a weird way.
Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, on the other hand, may be one of the best black comedies ever, whether intentionally or not, for at least that first hour. We were literally cracking up in the screening room. Almost every character who isn’t Martin exists as some form of comic relief for that period of time. Whether it be a person Martin’s kidnapped who actually explicitly yells out something like “He’s gonna put us together ass to mouth!” at the exact moment I’m begging him to in my head or Martin’s mother harboring a desire to kill both him and herself, EVERYTHING is played for laughs. And then, Martin gets a hammer and a chisel and knocks people’s teeth out, and we go completely off the deep end.
I’m not going to explicitly say what happens in the last third of this movie because describing it in words does not do its impact justice. I will say that I suspect the screening of The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence that was screened for critics has been cut or edited. One of the scenes mentioned in the statement justifying England’s banning of the film just wasn’t there, and there was an odd tendency for the lights in the warehouse to flicker at times, almost as if they were put in post. I will also say, however, that, almost a day later, this movie is still in my head, just like the first one was, because of just how unrelentingly violent, visceral, and brutal its final third STILL is even with the edits. There are good reasons to want and NOT to want a chocolate milkshake to calm nerves after watching this film.
All this begs the question: Is it good, or at least as good as the first? Yes and no. Yes, the final third is just as brutal and shocking as the first film, if not more so in some ways. On the other hand, no, as the first two-thirds are so ludicrously over-the-top hilarious that the movie jumps way over the line into self-parody and meta-humor more than once. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is entertaining, but not as engaging as the predecessor. For the right audience buying the DVD is a distinct possibility, but it won’t likely be watched until sufficient recovery time has passed. Those who enjoyed the first will find reasons to either like or dislike this sequel, and those who did not enjoy the first will likely respond the same way. There will be some who love The Human Centipede 2: Final Sequence and others who hate it, and it is likely that filmmaker Tom Six wouldn’t have it any other way.