The Human Centipede

Dieter Laser in The Human Centipede


A movie for every day of the year – a good one



21 June


Josef Mengele’s remains identified, 1985

On this day in 1985 it was finally ascertained that remains exhumed from a grave in Brazil were those of Josef Mengele. Later DNA testing in 1992 confirmed this original identification from dental records. Mengele had died after suffering a stroke and drowning while swimming in the coastal resort of Bertioga. He was 67 and had been living in South America ever since fleeing the concentration camp Auschwitz at the end of the Second World War, where his experiments on inmates had earned him the nickname the “Angel of Death”. Mengele’s special field of interest was twins and he performed any number of experiments to prove the supremacy of nature over nurture (the better to bolster the Nazi’s theories about racial supremacy). These included infecting one twin with a disease, amputating limbs, the injection of chloroform into the heart and in one particularly gruesome case the sewing together of Gypsy children to try and make conjoined twins. These unfortunates died of gangrene.




The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009, dir: Tom Six)

When buzz about The Human Centipede first started being generated online, the film was being talked about as a new peak of torture porn, perhaps as the ultimate torture porn. In fact it’s an old form of torture porn, revived. As evidence, here’s Dieter Laser, as Dr Heiter, a smock-coated, severe Teutonic doctor, leather boots, gaunt face, long pitiless limbs, the twitch, the embodiment of the cruel Nazi medical man who’s putting his undoubtedly brilliant skills to fiendish ends. Admittedly, writer/director Tom Six has come up with something new for this updated Mengele to do, though it isn’t a long way from the Angel of Death’s original practices. He’s going to sew together three innocent tourists he’s kidnapped, the mouth of one connecting with the anus of the next, then that one’s mouth sewn onto the anus of the one in front. To make a centipede, one whose shit passes from first person to second to third. Why? To create an internet buzz, bums on seats, make a name for Six, make money, nothing more.

But what’s admirable about the way Six does it is that he follows his logic through mercilessly. The film lacks the guile it would have had if it had been made by Hollywood. We see naked women, but they’re naked because they’re being readied for an operation, the fact that we occasionally cop a glance of a sideboob more accidental than intentional (I’m absolutely not saying it’s not intentional though). The remorseless logic of the operation is followed through too – once three people are connected thusly, how do they interact? What happens if one wants to go left when the other wants to go right? What if something serious happens to one of them (like it hasn’t already)? Six also introduces a fascinating political element in the shape of the two cops who come to check out the mad doctor’s remote facility and who threaten to stop him in his tracks. The cops are clearly 1968 refugees – “Hitler’s children” – and what Six reserves for them shows that there’s a keen cultural intelligence at work. Like most torture porn films, The Human Centipede is really a comedy, Six coming up with increasingly horrible things to show the audience and then basically daring them not to groan. Laughter is the only way out. The cue being Dr Heiter breaking off from his medical work to expound at length on his strange domestic pet, the so-called Three-Dog. Yes, yes, yes, he’d worked up a prototype. Barking.



Why Watch?


  • One of the most infamous films of recent years
  • Dieter Laser’s grim-faced performance
  • Tom Six’s ingenious screenplay
  • A very very dark comedy


© Steve Morrissey 2014



The Human Centipede (First Sequence) – Watch it now at Amazon





4 thoughts on “The Human Centipede”

  1. Starting from a good idea, the director/writer totally screws it up, in my humble opinion. I started watching this because of the '100% medically accurate'-marketing, as I'm a student in medicine. It was far from accurate or realistic.. Not medically, not in any way. I'm only a student and still see some big mistakes. Obviously they hadn't even a nurse on the set.

    -The odds that two random persons are compatible to each other are quite low (that's one of the problems with organ-transplant). How lucky is he that the two girls match! And since the third guy isn't, he just go grab a random Japanese guy out of his backyard, who apparently hasn't a clue what he's doing in Germany(let alone Europe). He doesn't speak neither English nor German nor any other language except for Japanese.

    -Girl number 2 shows rejection signs at the end of the movie. Which shows that: a- the doctor hasn't worked sterile (he scratches his forehead during the operation, an error a regular surgeon would never do) or b-he didn't gave immuno-suppressing medication, a real doctor would never oversee such a thing or c- they didn't matched (but as you can see prior to the operation, he had them tested).

    -About that test: as far as I know, it's not the kind of test you can run in your basement, and I really doubt that you can make a lab do that from anonymous people for someone without a practitioners license anyway. As he is 'retired' (most likely fired for his dog-experiment), it' s very highly likely that he hasn't got his license anymore (= no professional secrecy possible).

    -By far the most hilarious error is when he has his stethoscope in his ears.. He has it in the wrong direction!!! A stethoscope should be worn so that the ear-canal and the branches of the stethoscope are in the prolongation of each other. Like he is wearing it, it makes a small angle. This is something anyone with paramedical knowledge would see right away. (please feel free to search the internet for proper stethoscope wearing instructions if I didn't made myself clear on this point)

    -If I were a very sick-minded ex-surgeon, I would have connected their blood-circuit. Without it, survival is impossible from the start. First: you can't survive eating excrement from just one person, second: as the urinary tracts are not connected either, the second and third subject would die from dehydration even before they'd die from hunger and third: connecting the rectum with the mouth makes it possible for bacteria from the lower gastric tract (f.e. E.Coli) to infect the upper gastric tract of the second person resulting in diarrhea in the first place, probably followed by generalized infection and death later on. There's a reason why the intestinal tract is segregated.

    -And my last point is the following: the second girl dies -apparently- from generalized infection. If that's the case, the first girl would be evenly infected. You should also be aware that dying from generalized infection is quite a slow death involving very high fever and tissue necrosis, which she doesn't shows symptoms of.

    Except from the medical point of view there are other illogic things: the police's behavior towards the doctor, the neighbors hearing screams(but not another house in sight, and the police shows up very late compared to when the screams might have been heard). And how the hell did the doctor managed to plant the scalpel in the first policeman's neck while unable to do anything else but crawling?

    Furthermore, there is nothing innovating compared to other horror movies. (See colleagues' reviews) I think I made my point clear, but if realism doesn't bother you, you might like it. Although I really doubt it.

  2. This movie is trash. It's a sick fetish-fueler for some weird cult to get off to. The plot is non-existent. If you want to know what this movie is about in a nutshell, here are some key plot points – mouth sewn to anuses, swallowing feces, and humans turned into slaves without dignity. People will say it's an original idea, but OF COURSE IT IS. It's never been done before because NO ONE HAS THOUGHT OF SOMETHING AS SICK AS THIS YET. After watching, I felt like I needed counseling, or something to make me forget the entire concept. On top of that, there is pathetic dialogue, acting, and directing. The movie literally ends without anything resolved and you just think "What was the point of this?" There's no greater idea, or hidden metaphors. The movie is about swallowing feces. DO NOT WATCH IT.

  3. Wow, what a pointless and redundant film.

    It would seem word of mouth has spread into the anus of the internet and shat out this crap film.

    Despite the hype, the Human Centipede does nothing interesting with its premise or characters – its almost as if Six thinks the *concept* can do most of the leg work for him.

    And apparently those taken by the original concept require little else from a film – like working through the implications of its own premise or delivering an experience that can stand on its own feet.

    Take away the striking *image* of three people turned into a human centipede, and you are left with an indistinct film with few thrills.

    The mad scientist trope barely transcends hackneyed cliché, and the film completely squanders a great opportunity for subtext: what (for example) is the meaning of a male Asian as the head of the centipede and/or what does two American women following him mean?

    The plot is threadbare and takes the path of least resistance – the pointless film leads from point A to point B. Despite the 'logical' (linear) approach of the 'narrative', the characters motivations generally defy logic and rational explanation.

    Unlike great horror movies, this film literally has nothing to say about modern culture, gender roles, human fears or scientific hubris.

    Even worse, the cheap thrills are standard fare. The only thing that can be said in its favor is that some of the images (creep in the car, the centipede itself) are perversely funny.

    The film fails to suspend disbelief or encourages identification with its own protagonists either. Instead of (say) feeling sorry for the two female characters in the film, you pity the two female *actresses* playing bare breasted women on all fours and eating crap in the form of Six's 'script'.

    Dieter was typically creepy as the mad scientist, but he can do this stuff in his sleep. Anyone familiar with his work on Lexx knows how remarkable he can be – his Mantrid is amongst the great scifi villains. And the image of Mantrid's floating head on a jar remains much more incisive than anything on display here.

  4. The entire point of this film was to shock, but the way it shocks is more by giving you the image with no point and no reasoning. Of course the film never sounded like it was ever going to be remembered for its script but this is beyond bad.

    We're first introduced to the two American girls, who pretty as they may be seem to lack any form of intelligence or general common sense. They are driving to a night club (as you do) when they take a wrong turn and end up getting a puncture. Now this is where things get bad. So the girls are stranded failing to know how to operate a jack and attach a spare wheel the girls decide to look for help. Cue a three minute pointless piece of film making where a randy German man gives his thoughts about the girls in German. Laughable honestly. So the man drives off and the girls decide the best thing to do is to go and look for help.. By walking through the woods and coming across a house in the middle of nowhere with a man that answers the door with the most evil face in the world who's first question is are you alone? Welcoming.

    See the film goes on with its rather pointless set ups like these which just make you think who would do that? I mean there is one moment in the film that really grabbed my attention, the girls are tied to the patient beds and the doctor goes out to bury the truck driver in the garden. He then goes out and gets the Japanese man from somewhere. The doctor then tells them all his dastardly plan then goes off. Later he comes back to start the procedure by injecting them to put them to sleep. Now only at this moment does the one girl decide she can undo the one wrist with her teeth and get out. I understand you have to make the film but bloody hell thats just ridiculous, I mean he'd buried a man and found a new man before the girls even tried to escape? They could have boarded a flight back to the US or even tried to find that night club if they'd have just stopped crying for however long they had been.

    So we come to the birth of the centipede and things go from bad to worse I'm afraid. See the purpose of this film is just to make you feel sick. There are no scares, no moments of suspense and really there is just no point. Worst film ever!

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