Here's Martin!

Here’s Martin!

Human Centipede 2 (2011) exceeds its predecessor in every way. While some film series may kick it up a notch when getting to the sequel, Human Centipede doesn’t knock it out of the park, it ejects it into the stratosphere. I repeated myself, not to entertain, but to warn. We’re going to take a good long look here at a movie which is vastly more horrific than a film about a doctor who surgically joins three human beings mouth-to-anus into a human centipede. Human Centipede 2 succeeds on so many levels, it boggles my mind that it didn’t get more attention than it did when it released.

Human Centipede (the first) was met with mixed reviews. Marketed as “100% medically accurate” and “the most horrific film ever made” it never quite lived up to the reputation. The film had a clinical starkness to its presentation, and while it didn’t waste any time getting to the point of sewing three people together, mouth to anus, it never really indulged in the absolute grotesqueness of the scenario. Consequently, the film felt somewhat unsatisfying. Was there a crazy German doctor who got off on sewing people together? Yep. Did he do it? Yep. There it is. The movie did make waves, won a few festival awards, and generally offended anyone who thought too long about it.

 

But: Tom Six knows what he’s doing. This film savors atrocity so urgently I can’t really say any more without giving the warning. If you are a sensitive person you do not want to keep reading. Go anywhere else.

 

Click to enbiggen.  For some reason he has a monstrous beauty in this one.

Click to enbiggen. For some reason he has a monstrous beauty in this one.

The film is shot in black and white, giving everything a cold stark distance to it that the first film achieved by actually staying away from indulging. But this film indulges. Close, unflinching shots of Martin using a hammer to knock out a man’s entire row of teeth. Using a scalpel to reveal and then a pair of scissors to sever a woman’s tendons. Pulling out his penis from underneath his massive gut, carefully wrapping it in barbed wire, and then raping the last victim in the centipede. Did I say black and white? It was so, with the critical exception of fecal matter vomited between the gaps left by the staple based joining of mouth and anus, which was a vivid brown.

The sound use is excellent. Martin is nearly silent throughout the film. He never utters a single word, but squeals with glee or pain or irritation. He doesn’t even make a single sound until 16 minutes into the film when he delights at feeding his pet centipede. This keeps him as an unrelatable force of nature.  A God of torture who cannot be understood.  There is very little music of any sort, standard creepy horror beds for the most part, but when it comes to the ghetto hammer dentistry, the laxative induced diarrhea, the wails of agony as the pregnant lady gives birth while fleeing Martin’s wrath, the sounds overwhelm perfectly.

With that in mind, let us begin.

Human Centipede 2 opens with close-ups of Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) in the security booth of an underground parking garage. He is short, mentally handicapped, chronically asthmatic, frog-like, overweight and obsessed with the film The Human Centipede. We’re introduced to his mother, a frantic and neurotic older woman who blames Martin for the incarceration of her husband. An incarceration brought upon him for molesting Martin. She blames Martin vocally. Martin is groped by his therapist, Dr. Sebring.

Revealed!

Revealed!

After acquiring the use of a filthy warehouse, Martin begins capturing his victims. He does this by clubbing them with a crowbar, using his small stature to lull them into a false sense of security. Meanwhile, Martin’s mother finds a scrapbook he has been lovingly creating of the procedures done upon the victims of the first film, and after she destroys it he beats her to death with the crowbar. He continues collecting. During this process he happens upon Dr. Sebring being serviced by a prostitute.  Martin murders him and claims the prostitute. Martin’s twelfth victim is Ashlynn Yennie, the lead actress from the first film, lured into his clutches with promises of an audition for a Quentin Tarantino film.

Ribbed for... no, that's a terrible joke.

Ribbed for… no, that’s a terrible joke.

Once all twelve are duct taped nude in his lair, he begins the process of assembling the centipede. He is not a doctor. He is terrible, at first trying to mimic the surgical precision of the first film, but as he quickly discovers himself inept, he resorts to duct tape, a staple gun, and a hammer for those pesky teeth. Two of his victims die in the process. Finished, he glories in his creation only for a moment before experimenting.

He injects laxatives into them, cackling and delighting as they explosively defecate into each other. He wraps his penis in barbed wire, and violates the last link in the centipede. It is just as he does this that one of the dead, a pregnant woman, jerks back to life and flees the warehouse. While Martin is distracted with her (she gets away!) one of the men in the centipede rips his mouth away, tearing the staples out.

I wish I could be as happy as he is in the last panel.

I wish I could be as happy as he is in the last panel.

Martin is infuriated. He executes most of the victims with a gun, resorting to slitting their throats with a knife when he runs out of bullets. Ashlynn makes a final attempt to strike at him, clubbing him in the genitals and then stuffing a feeding tube up his anus. She flings his pet centipede into the tube, and Martin writhes in pain before slitting her throat. We get a final shot of about half of them, Ashlynn quivering slightly, before cutting back to Martin sitting in his guard room, finishing watching the first film again. Was it a fantasy? The wailing of a baby in the background declares otherwise.

And fin.

And fin.

 

Tom Six claimed that this film would make the first one look like My Little Pony, and in that regard this was a huge success. The only attempt at addressing morality here is the comically heavy-handed inclusion of a voice over of Martin’s absent father insisting: “Stop your crying, your tears only make daddy’s willy harder.” His father’s sexual abuse is not capable of making Martin’s story anything other than an exploitation flim in the purest sense. This is the proverbial train wreck that people slow down to gawk at. The nude bodies, writing in fear or pain might amuse someone looking for base titillation, but there is nothing redeeming here. No morals, no lessons, little story and simple characters, just grotesque, perverse spectacle.

With that in mind, this can’t really be considered a horror film. No character (save Martin) is given enough space to garner any sort of attachment, and he is a towering obelisk of unapproachable cruelty. What is a horror film where you cannot care about any of the characters on the screen?

At a brisk 88 minutes, one wouldn’t expect to get bored, but the perverted parade tires. Without a single relatable character, we have all the time in the world to wonder why exactly we’re still in front of this thing.

It’s hard to recommend it. Human Centipede 2 pushes the grotesque to the limit with artless purity. People desiring filth without pretension will be delighted. Everyone else will be repulsed.

On a scale of 0 to AWESOME this movie is pure toxic waste. Most people will get cancer and then die. You might hear about some people getting super powers, but probably you’ll just get cancer and then die.

 

 

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