The Human Centipede (film review)

Every once in a while you see a movie that is so awful you want to stop watching, but a weird kind of fascination, the same kind of fascination that makes you want to look at traffic accidents, keeps your eyes on the screen. “The Human Centipede” is such a film.

This film got 5.1 stars (out of 10) on IMDB… which is my opinion is about 4.1 stars too many. The real problem with the movie is that it is so stupid. Unfortunately, it’s not stupid enough to be funny, or interesting, or campy or even noteworthy — it’s just stupid.

The film starts off bu introducing us to a German doctor, Dr. Heiter, in his car by the side of the road. The actor who plays Heiter looks like what one might get if one mixed equal parts Christopher Walken and Klaus Kinski. Dr. Heiter is sitting in his Mercedes by the side of the road looking at a picture of three dogs (who are standing in a row; each dog appears to have his snout in the ass on the dog ahead of him, but, hey, they are dogs, they sniff each other’s butts all of the time, right?). Dr. Heiter looks sad and crazy. A semi pulls up behind him and the truck driver gets out to go take a shit in the bushes. Dr. Heiter follows him with a rifle (later we find out that the rifle fires tranquilizer darts).

Cut to two American girls in a hotel, gabbing with a third girl on the phone. They announce that they are going out to a club in hopes of meeting up with a boy one of them met earlier. One of them is getting directions from the concierge on the room phone and it becomes clear that she is not the sharpest knife in the block.

In the next scene, the girls are driving around, lost in the woods and they get a flat tire. An old, bald, fat and disgusting guy who is driving around at night in his undershirt smoking and looking for people to harass comes up and sexually harasses them in German, but they don’t understand until they look up “ficken (fucking)” in their German/English dictionary. They ignore him and he drives away. They decide to walk through the woods at night in their mini-skirts and high heels. It starts to rain and, after getting lost and having their mascara run down their cheeks, they see a light in the distance. They run up and bang on the door. The door opens, and, hello! It’s Herr Doktor Walken, err, Heiter!

Heiter is really weird and rude but they come in and he promises to call the rental car company for them. Heiter has a house that is a DWELL reader’s wet dream with lots of wood and white but has a large painting of Siamese twin fetuses on the wall. While pretending to call the car service, Heiter puts two pills in two glasses of water and gives them to the girls. The ditzy girl falls asleep as the other girl realizes they have been drugged and tries (and fails) to get away. She passes out and Heiter is triumphant.

Cut to a room in Heiter’s basement. The girls awaken and discover that they are tied to beds in a hospital-like room. The Dutch truck driver from the beginning of the film is tied to a bed as well. Doctor Heiter announces that the two girls are a “match” but the truck driver is not a match and uses a syringe full of drugs to kill him. He his later shown burying the body in his garden. Nearby is a gravestone marked, “My beloved 3 dog.” They show that gravestone several times… along with the creepy art in Heiter’s house that all seems to deal with Siamese twins.

Heiter goes out with his tranquilizer gun and returns with a Japanese man. Everyone other than Heiter is freaked out and screaming about what a rotten fuck Heiter is. Using overhead transparencies that look as if they were drawn by a 12 year old, Heiter explains that he was the foremost surgeon specialized in separating Siamese twins, but he has retired from that and now wants to create a living work of art. He explains that he joined three dogs together, ass to mouth, to form one long creature… but it died (hence the grave) and now he wants to replicate the experiment with three humans. He will start by cutting the tendons in their knees (so they can’t stand) and removing the teeth and lips from the second and third person and the anuses from the first and second person. He will then sew them all together, forming a creature with a single intestinal tract: “the human centipede.” And, yes, that drawing on the right, with “food goes in here and poop comes out there” is really what Heiter shows them to explain how it will work. As the evil and totally fucked-up Heiter is administering anesthesia, the one slightly less stupid American girl gets away. Heiter chases her around and she sneaks back downstairs and gets her friend. As she is trying to drag her unconscious friend to safety, Heiter nails her with the tranquilizer gun.

Then there is a montage of Heiter pulling out teeth and slitting buttocks and knees. Eventually they wake up and are disturbed to discover that Doktor Heiter has succeeded in making them into a ‘human centipede,’ but, instead of being terrifying, it just looks silly. All three actors are wearing bandages on their knees and bandages that look like diapers and each actor’s head is bandaged to the ass of the actor in front of them. I just looks stupid and fake. I hope the actors were not farting in each other’s faces during the filming.

At this point there is still about half an hour left and we get to see Heiter training his centipede to crawl around and fetch the newspaper. At one point, the Japanese man apologizes because he has to shit and he can’t hold it in because Heiter removed his sphincter… so, apologizing in Japanese, he shits in the mouth of the woman who is sewed to his ass and she can’t help but shit in the mouth of the woman who is sewed to her ass… and, ladies and gentlemen, we have just arrived at this film’s big moment. Yep. This film exists to give the director a “plausible” reason to have people being forced to shit in other people’s mouths. Fortunately, we don’t really have to see anyone eating shit… the actors just grimace and make gagging noises as Heiter crows, “Feed her, yes… feed her!” Did I mention that at some point Heiter donned jack boots and picked up a riding crop? The director, Tom Six of Holland, is a master story teller (that was me being sarcastic).

There’s more (including a visit by two of the most incompetent detectives in Germany), but I think you get the point. I would tell you not to watch it, but at this point, if you have read this far, you are probably saying to yourself, “It can’t really be as stupid as he says it is; I must see for myself…” Go ahead. Watch it. But afterward you will want those 92 minutes of life back.

Let me say in advance, “I told you so.”


3 Comments on “The Human Centipede (film review)”

  1. Lord Gwydion says:

    Saw the trailer for it a while back, and it was a total WTF moment. Thanks for the review. That's more or less about as dumb as I assumed it to be from the trailer.

  2. Marjasall says:

    I watched this film the other night after seeing it in Bizarre magazine a few months back. Sadly, it wasn't even shocking. The box image looks cooler than the movie – I would rather have seen a long snake-like human torso and head with two rows of arms or some-such… To me they looked connected at the tail bone, not the exit, so it wasn't even convincing. Movies like this one end up as cult classics though. I hope the two actresses were paid well.

  3. anarchist says:

    This seems more like a fetish film than a horror film.


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