Well, readers, welcome to the “much worse.”
Turns out that when writer/director Tom Six promoted his original film by saying the sequel would make it look like “My Little Pony“ by comparison, that wasn’t just a good sound bite. “Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)” makes its big brother look positively innocent. To Six’s credit, he didn’t simply remake his own movie. Instead, he completely flipped it and went meta.
If you dare, see for yourself exactly how now that it’s hitting Blu-ray and DVD for Valentine’s Day, of all days; it’s probably a good thing it didn’t play local theaters.
This follow-up begins with Martin (newcomer Laurence R. Harvey), a sweaty, bug-eyed, obese parking garage attendant in London, watching the tail end of the first film on his laptop at work. When it’s over, he watches it again. He’s obsessed with it, to the point that he keeps a “Centipede” scrapbook hidden underneath his bed, as if it were porn.
Martin doesn’t utter a word. His story his so simple — a lifetime of abuse and ridicule — that he doesn’t have to. The gist of “THC II” is that he begins to wonder about testing the movie’s infamous “100% Medically Accurate” tagline, so he seeks out unwilling test subjects for an experiment. Whereas the original’s Dr. Heiter had but three victims, Martin seeks a dirty dozen.
Whereas the first film was clean and antiseptic in look and design, this sequel is bleak and grimy. Whereas the first film was in color, this sequel is in black-and-white — except for one scene, à la the girl in the red dress from “Schindler’s List,” but I dare not say how. Whereas the first film showed next to nothing, this sequel shows everything. I do think it goes too far, and from someone with a strong tolerance for horror, that’s saying something.
Six has made the darkest of black comedies, set in “Eraserhead”-type surroundings of societal misery, and then stitched on a Grand Guignol grand finale so unnerving, you may laugh as you recoil. Harvey gives such a remarkably brave performance, we alternately feel sorry for him and want to kill him.
When I caught “THC II” at its world premiere this past fall, it took me days to process. I thought I liked the movie — after all, it’s arty, clever and unique — but so much of its third act crosses the line, the angel on my shoulder told me I shouldn’t. Four months later, with a second viewing under my expanded belt, I’m still hearing the angel’s voice in hushed tones, but I’ll cop to an odd admiration for the film’s absolute boldness anyway. I just promise not to watch it again … if my wife or kids are in the house.
The Blu-ray boasts certainly among some of the more unique special features of the year, including:
• a nine-minute tour of the warehouse set, with a stop at the array of characters’ fake butts;
• three minutes of foley workers making convincing sounds for the rape scene by stabbing a pig carcass — hey, it’s a living;
• a behind-the-scenes look at shooting the film’s poster, which is disturbing in its own right;
• a very brief deleted scene of such insignificance that they needn’t have bothered; and
• an interview with Six, who says that, ironically and in inverse proportion to the original, the sequel was a cinch to cast. He also recommends living life like a dog and promises that, yes, “The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)” is on its way.
And Six promises it will go further. Be afraid. Be very afraid. —Rod Lott