The Human Centipedeis a movie that capitalizes on our inbred, firm stance against eating other people's excrement. In the movie, a mad scientist takes three people and sutures them together, mouth-to-anus, creating one, long, poop-eating love train. The premise is pretty thin, and writer/director Tom Six takes this one moment of horror and then just kind of builds a movie around it. But decent movies have been made on less, just look at Saw. Nobody wants to saw off their own foot, how horrible would that be? Safe to say that the same goes for eating shit. I’m pretty sure most people would hack off an appendage to get out of eating poop straight from the source, and as a consequence, we now have The Human Centipede: First Sequence, the end of Western Civilization as we know it.
Well, at least that’s what Tom Six wants you to think. Six reveled in all of the media attention his little gross-out movie created, boasting about the death threats he received and proudly throwing around accolades like “100% medically accurate” and “the sickest movie of all time” as if he were some kind of 1950’s B-movie huckster. But, The Human Centipede: First Sequence really doesn’t amount to anything beyond an entertaining freak show. Even the dreaded poop-eating scene is brief and non-graphic, although it does leave a rather uncomfortable stain on your psyche.
Beyond all of the poo-talk, though, lays a fairly well crafted piece of body horror. It elicits cringes even when not dealing with waste disposal, and features a great performance from German actor Dieter Laser as the mad Dr. Heiter. Were it not for Laser and all of his mad laughter and taunting ridicule, The Human Centipede would likely be unwatchably self-serious. The extent of Heiter’s cruelty gives the movie a dark comic energy, like how he rewards one of his subjects after a botched escape attempt—her reward? Why she gets to be the middle section of the centipede! It’s that kind of movie.