Who's In It: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura
The Basics: While vacationing in Germany, two American BFFs (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and knock on the first door they see. Unfortunately for them, the door belongs to Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), a retired surgeon with a twisted hobby who's been looking for the perfect pair to complete his latest grotesque experiment. Along with a young Japanese man named Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), Lindsay and Jenny are sedated and subjected to a horrific series of operations that leave them surgically connected to each other, mouth to rectum, as "Siamese triplets" -- or, as the good doctor lovingly calls them, "the human centipede." It's a BYOBB film: Bring your own barf bag.
What's the Deal: If you're even thinking about seeing The Human Centipede, you should know at least this: it's gross, it's hard to watch, and it may leave you utterly disturbed. (If you're actually excited about it… what's wrong with you??) Director Tom Six seems driven by one motivating purpose -- to gross-out the entire world -- and he's destined to succeed tremendously. In truth, he creates such a palpable feeling of dread from the very beginning to the film's excruciating conclusion that it's easy to overlook the handsome production value, the cold and menacing camera work, and the frightened, emotional performances by Kitamura, Williams, and Yennie as the centipede's respective lead, middle, and rear. You'll be forgiven for squirming in your seat as everything you're afraid will happen proceeds to then happen, regardless of whether or not you want to stop the ride and get off. Unfortunately, so much hinges on the horrifying things done to the humans in the centipede that there's little exploration of them as characters rather than "parts," with the possible exception of Williams' Lindsay, who gets to do a bit more than her whiny best friend and the irate Japanese stranger they've become attached to. Is it worth watching? Maybe, if you're into medical horror or just a plain old cinematic sadomasochist. Or you could just read this and Dave White's review and save your innocence for the next piece of torture porn that comes your way.
Why You Should Learn the Name Dieter Laser: Because the veteran German actor will be haunting your nightmares. As Dr. Heiter he's at first creepy and eccentric, then cold and methodical, and eventually just plain maniacal, stalking his prey with a scalpel. Like the movie itself, Heiter is unsettlingly quiet, which makes it all the easier to hear his victims' muffled sobs; at other times, he's perversely funny. And in Heiter's defense, it must be said: he's got an excellent bedside manner. If only he was practicing actual medicine and not sewing people's body parts together for his own amusement…
Torture Porn and Black Comedy, Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together? Nothing about the situation Heiter's victims are in is funny, but the film does marginally lighten things up with moments of dark humor -- like when Heiter first unveils his surgical results to the horrified recovering trio and beams like a proud papa as they sob into each other's anuses. Or when he attempts to teach his human centipede to fetch his newspaper. Or the sight of Heiter genuinely weeping over the loss of his previous creation, "3-Dog." (Made of -- what else? -- three Rottweilers.)
So You're Still On The Fence And Wondering Just How Bad The Horrific Stuff Could Be (Spoiler Alert): Sit back and imagine this laundry list of horrors, and decide if it might be for you: Heiter preps his victims by yanking out their teeth and severing their kneecaps and tendons so that they remain on all fours (yes, you see the gore). There are scalpels in legs, necks bitten into, human excrement eaten by the rear parts of the centipede, people being shot, stitches getting infected, and the piece de resistance: when the three victims make a run for it, they have to mount a knee-crushing, incision-tearing circular staircase for a shot at freedom. These kinds of things you can't unsee (or un-know, as some of them are only implied and not explicitly depicted).
A Warning To Those With Weak Constitutions: I squirmed. I freaked out. I thought to myself, "Nononononononono" almost constantly throughout the film. I wound up in my seat in the fetal position and stayed there for a good five minutes after the credits started rolling, and felt drained of all humanity and innocence upon leaving the theater. I may never eat again. And the saddest part is, I'm not quite sure it was all worth it beyond the ability to share my experience with like-minded wusses who don't like being provoked just for the hell of it. You other folks, you horror hounds and my pal Dave White, can have Tom Six's planned sequel -- The Human Centipede (Full Sequence), consisting of a 12-person centipede -- all to yourself.