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Exclusive: Director Tom Six Talks The Human Centipede Trilogy

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Director Tom Six Talks The Human Centipede TrilogyThere’s bold. There’s audacious. Then there’s The Human Centipede. I first saw director Tom Six’s award-winning body horror flick The Human Centipede (First Sequence) last October during the 2009 Screamfest Film Festival. Sitting inside the packed theater, you could hear the nervous rumblings throughout the room of those who were unsure of what they were about to see.

After The Human Centipede finished some 90 minutes later, the chatter broke out again, and as this writer spent a good 10 minutes gathering her senses (Writer’s Note: For the record, I am generally not squeamish and can watch the opening of Saving Private Ryan without blinking an eye at the violence) because there just weren’t words to accurately describe what I had just seen.

Now that IFC Films is revving up to unleash The Human Centipede into theaters on April 30th, I jumped at the opportunity to speak with writer/director Six and find out just what kind of guy would make such a fantastically disturbing film and what he has planned for the next two installments.

Surprisingly enough, the idea for The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (review here) came out of a joke that Six made during a normal conversation with friends.

Even though Human Centipede started off from a joke, the more I thought about it, I realized that it would make a really great movie,” explained Six. “It wasn’t like anything I had seen ever before. I had made three Dutch language films up to that point and knew that for my first international film it had to be horror. This was the perfect kind of horror film, I thought.

With the horror genre, there are hardly any limits as a storyteller. You can really let your fantasies go to some dark places and just go wild. If you have a good concept for a horror movie, you don’t need big stars either, like they did with Saw or The Blair Witch Project. The story itself becomes the focus if you do your job right,” Six added.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) concept sketch

With the script of The Human Centipede done, Six was ready to assemble his cast. For the role of Dr. Heiter (the film’s villain whose master plan it is to create the first human centipede out of three people joined at the front and back), the writer/director knew exactly who he saw in the role before he had even finished writing the project.

Six said, “When I was creating the Dr. Heiter character, I immediately thought of Dieter Laser. I watched so many films of his since he’s been working for 40 years and knew that I was not going to be happy if anyone else played that role. I flew to Berlin to meet with Dieter, and luckily, he loved what I wanted to do with the film. It was a role that I think he was born to play.

For the roles of Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), the two young Americans who are captured by Dr. Heiter so that he can fulfill his madman dreams, the director found a little more resistance when he arrived in New York to do casting.

When we went to New York to cast those roles of the girls, I brought with me the sketches of what the human centipede looked like, and it was a very decisive experience for the actresses,” explained Six. “Most of the women immediately freaked out at the idea and didn’t even audition for us.

The smart ones stayed because they saw the opportunity in front of them to try something completely different. We needed to find beautiful girls who weren’t afraid to get ugly for us, and both Ashley and Ashlynn pulled it off better than I could have imagined. They worked hard for those parts, both physically and emotionally. They weren’t easy roles,” Six added.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) concept sketch

One of the more groan-inducing moments in the film (for me, at least) wasn’t necessarily the surgical sequences, but rather when Dr. Heiter comes into the room with his three unwilling specimens and proceeds to explain the surgical techniques of the human centipede using very crude drawings. I spoke to Six about that scene in particular and what made it so impactful.

The idea for this scene came from this real fear of doctors that everyone has. I always thought about surgeons who come in before they do surgery and create the drawings for their patients. I don’t know if doctors realize how terrifying that can be on a patient, so I wanted to incorporate that into the film. I wanted Dr. Heiter’s drawings to be simple and child-like almost but utterly gruesome when you look closer and realize what he’s explaining,” said Six.

Now with The Human Centipede (First Sequence) hitting theaters soon, Six is starting to gear up for production on the sequel, known as The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). I talked with Six to find out just where he could possibly go this time that he didn’t go for the first film. It turns out he has already dreamed up a ton of squirm-inducing moments for both the sequel and the final film of the trilogy as well.

When I was writing the first Human Centipede, I had so many more ideas that really pushed the envelope, actually way further than you see even in the first film, so I always intended for this to be a trilogy,” Six explained. “My goal was that the first film will get audiences used to the concept of a human centipede and prepares them for where everything goes in the next two.

The first film will seem like My Little Pony compared to what we do with the sequel. There will be a lot of black humor, and I’m excited as a director to see how far I can push audiences. We start shooting this June in London, and we’re looking to release the sequel before the end of the year if post-production goes well,” added Six.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) concept sketch

Six went on to discuss his experiences the second time around with Human Centipede and just where they are in the pre-production phase, “We’ve finished casting for the second film. I can tell you that it was definitely easier to do casting this time around; the first time everyone thought we were insane. This time everyone wants to be a part of the human centipede. It’s pretty crazy!

When you make a sequel, you are very vulnerable as a director. That comes from your responsibility as a director to not disappoint your audience, especially that now there are more expectations. They’ve seen what you can do. My job is to work really hard to create something original and engaging. I think the next two Human Centipede films will completely blow people away. They won’t believe their eyes when I’m done with them,” added Six.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) will be premiering On Demand and opening in New York with other cities to follow starting on April 30th courtesy of IFC.


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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

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Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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