Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Human Centipede- First Sequence (2009)

"I don't like human beings!"

I first heard about this film many years ago in that Channel 4 quiz show presented by Charlie Brooker, and instantly became aware that it was likely to be a gentle and cute film, ideal for young children and a delight for all the family. I've been meaning to see it for many years simply because it pops up so often in pop culture.

So what did I think? Well, I'm at sold to see why it has such a reputation for gore and controversy; as far as the visually disgusting is concerned, I've seen far worse. If anything, this film is relatively old fashioned in that most of the really stomach-churning stuff is implied, rather than seen; in particular, the scene in which the Japanese man poos into the feisty American woman's mouth is implied through acting penny. Well, it's also implied by the lines "Swallow it, bitch!" and "Feed her! Feed her!", but you take my point. 

The acting, admittedly, is pretty piss poor, except from the magnificent Dieter Laser as a modern day Joseph Mengele. And, given that there are three languages in the film (German, English and Japanese), all if which get a fair bit of dialogue, the lack of subtitles was a surprise. In particular, the long scenes in which two police officers interview the nefarious doctor are hard to follow without them. And the characters are, of course, ciphers; personally I didn't even catch their names.

It's also a very cliched film, with trope after trope bring aired. American tourists in Europe coming a cropper? Check. Two girls having their car break down and unwisely venturing up to a creepy house to ask for help? Check. The two of them falling out? Check. This plot, nastiness aside, could be that of a Universal horror film directed by James Whale.

The bit where the doctor gives a presentation to his three victims, via OHP(!), is suitably and camply sinister. Even more horrific, though, is where the more feisty of our two American ladies, is told that, because she tried to escape, she will be the middle segment. The fact that the poor lady who makes up the rear segment is dying of septicaemia is more horrific still. But the ending, with the middle segment being the only one left alive, is gloriously dark.

This is a fun little film, playing with the tropes of its genre and, I think, exhibiting some very Dutch stereotypes about the Germans. The concepts are disgusting, yes, but there's relatively little visual gore, and I have to praise the film for being, at ninety minutes, a proper length. It's only a bit of fun, be warned, with little in the way of subtext, but it's well made, well shot and enormous fun.

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