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The Centipede Sequel & The Censors

June 7, 2011

Tom Six: Purveyor of 'Pede-atric Theatrics

Ready yourselves my poppets, for the sequel to The Human Centipede has not only been completed, it has already been shown to the British Board of Film Censors (now known as the British Board of Film Classification) and, in short, they have decided that this film can fuck right off. The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) has been rejected outright for classification by the BBFC, meaning it cannot be legally released or supplied anywhere in the UK.

As a dedicated, uh, ‘Pede-phile, I think it appropriate that I should endeavour to explain this situation as best I can to the uninitiated and, alas, there are still plenty of pedestrians out there who have not yet taken the plunge with the ‘Pede. The original film by Dutch filmmaker Tom Six came scurrying and burrowing into the helpless, twitching subconscious of many of us with its brilliantly revolting premise, that a mad surgeon sews people’s bodies together mouth to anus, however, The Human Centipede wasn’t a particularly graphic or visceral gore flick. It largely stayed its hand when it came to delivering on the visual horror and surprised many, including yours truly, by being carried largely by the wonderfully twisted, black-comedy performance of Dieter Laser. In short, it was not as bad as it sounded.

So for the sequel, and as he promised all along, writer/director Six has taken a different approach and has gone and made it pretty much as bad, or worse, than it sounds. The sequel would contain the “blood and shit” we didn’t see in the first film, promised one of the original flick’s stars, and apparently she wasn’t joking. Here is what the BBFC has had to say in a recent press release (spoilers) –

This new work, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), tells the story of a man who becomes sexually obsessed with a DVD recording of the first film and who imagines putting the ‘centipede’ idea into practice. Unlike the first film, the sequel presents graphic images of sexual violence, forced defecation, and mutilation, and the viewer is invited to witness events from the perspective of the protagonist. Whereas in the first film the ‘centipede’ idea is presented as a revolting medical experiment, with the focus on whether the victims will be able to escape, this sequel presents the ‘centipede’ idea as the object of the protagonist’s depraved sexual fantasy.

The principal focus of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is the sexual arousal of the central character at both the idea and the spectacle of the total degradation, humiliation, mutilation, torture, and murder of his naked victims. Examples of this include a scene early in the film in which he masturbates whilst he watches a DVD of the original Human Centipede film, with sandpaper wrapped around his penis, and a sequence later in the film in which he becomes aroused at the sight of the members of the ‘centipede’ being forced to defecate into one another’s mouths, culminating in sight of the man wrapping barbed wire around his penis and raping the woman at the rear of the ‘centipede’. There is little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience. There is a strong focus throughout on the link between sexual arousal and sexual violence and a clear association between pain, perversity and sexual pleasure. It is the Board’s conclusion that the explicit presentation of the central character’s obsessive sexually violent fantasies is in breach of its Classification Guidelines and poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.

Well, I’m pretty much committed to checking this out and frankly, I probably have little choice. I was practically dared to be the individual amongst my immediate social circle to watch the first film and I dutifully did so, only to become an evangelist and champion of its twisted silliness thereafter. I feel compelled to continue on this journey, on my hands and knees, quivering mouth and anus agape in anticipation. However, I do have some concerns. This sequel won’t have Dieter Laser in it and that guy was simply the best thing about the first film. Dr Josef Heiter was the craziest and most perverse screen villain since Kakihara in Ichi the Killer and it takes more than just having a character indulge in sick shit to get that kind of result. It takes a particular kind of performer with the right screen presence and it is not yet clear that any such performer is in The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). In fact, my cursory research has failed to produce any names for the cast thus far although the film was shot in the UK with mainly British performers. Also, the premise this time around deploys the decidedly postmodern twist of having the main character as someone obsessed with the film, The Human Centipede, ergo the film takes place in a world that acknowledges the existence of the first film. But Charlie Kaufman, this ain’t and, depending on your personal willingness to buy into such a narrative gambit in the context of a low-brow, schlock-horror exploitation shocker, this idea will either strike you as intriguingly brilliant or spectacularly bad. Of the age and temperament to consider myself sufficiently well-versed in such storytelling tricks, I am preemptively leaning toward the latter.

Crashing piece of shit or not, I simply have to see it. This early controversy is confirming my suspicions that Tom Six has now mutated into something more akin to an elaborate prankster than unremarkable European filmmaker but an outright ban from the BBFC remains a rare event. There is no such thing as bad publicity, and this film has already garnered valuable notoriety at the hands of the very people appointed to protect the general public from the supposed damage and corruption thereof. Six appears to have lost (from the UK, at least) the possibility of similar DVD sales that made The Human Centipede something of a hit but, on the other hand, this press release represents the beginning of the viral buzz surrounding the sequel and essentially constitutes hype from a broadly unbiased source that has no interest in promoting the movie. Can films even be banned anymore? As long as they are actually made in the first place then they can quite easily be shared and digitally distributed throughout the world so this move by the BBFC seems like little other than a preposterous, self-defeating exercise.

As to the question of why Six chose to go a harder and more indulgently depraved and exploitative route for his sequel, I would posit the emergence of A Serbian Film as being the prime motivator there. As disturbing and notorious as The Human Centipede was, it was completely trumped and overshadowed in the cinematic mind-rape department when A Serbian Film arrived some months later. The Human Centipede was a black comedy horror built around a scatological joke premise, whereas the later film was a frenzied carnival of rape, necrophilia, paedophilia and raging madness. The difference thus far is that the filmmakers behind A Serbian Film remain quite po-faced and grimly reserved when they explain that there is a serious political subtext to their film whilst Tom Six has been smirking and giggling about the freaky shit he was going to do in The Human Centipede sequel for some time. The BBFC passed A Serbian Film with substantial cuts but it appears that Six has ensured that his Centi-sequel has remained obscenely and insanely twisted throughout thereby forcing the British censors to take an all or nothing decision in what could yet prove a canny manoeuver by the Dutch director. I will, of course, keep you all updated.

In the meantime, pass the sandpaper.

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3 comments

  1. “I feel compelled to continue on this journey, on my hands and knees, quivering mouth and anus agape in anticipation.”

    Now that’s a goddamn sentence by god!


  2. Ha, thank you.


  3. My take on the ban…



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