Exclusive: Director Tom Six Talks The Human Centipede Trilogy
There’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.
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.
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.
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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