Exclusive: Ashlynn Yennie Talks The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) and More!
With the release of The Human Centipede II just around the corner via IFC Midnight, we sat down recently with star Ashlynn Yennie, who riffed engagingly on the Tom Six-directed flick and its BBFC ban, her experiences attending horror cons, her take on the correlation between cinematic and social violence, and her recent water-fight with I Spit on Your Grave’s Sarah Butler.
Yennie, who appeared as the ‘tail-end’ of the titular creation in Six’s 2010 much-talked-about film The Human Centipede (First Sequence) and who reprises her role of ‘Jenny’ in the anticipated sequel (which director Six has promised ‘will be the sickest movie of all time’), said of the sophomore effort’s controversial subject matter, “I didn’t have any issues with it, although I’m really excited for people to see it because when the first one came out, people kept saying, ‘It’s not gory enough, and it doesn’t show enough,’ and some people even said that it was ‘boring,’ so with this story it feels more like ‘real-life’ than anything. In the first film it felt like we were making a movie about something that had happened, and with this it felt like we were making a movie about something that was actually happening. The first film is very medical and clean, and the sequel is dirty, bloody, totally medically inaccurate and crazy!”
For those new to the party, The Human Centipede follows the plights of three unfortunates abducted by a sadistic German scientist, who in a bid to make a ‘human centipede’ surgically grafts the trio, tying them together via a shared gastrointestinal tract. A shocking concept, yes, and one which assisted the film in receiving Best Picture 2009 at LA’s venerated Screamfest, as well as its nomination for Best Villain and Most Memorable Mutilation at the 2010 Scream Awards. It also helped in launching the film into the popular American conscience, as witnessed by its parody via the "South Park" episode ‘Human CentiPad’.
“My boyfriend found out before I did,” said Yennie of the airing of the ‘Human CentiPad’, “and he was screaming, ‘You are so awesome! Your movie is amazing!’ All of us that were in the film thought that the 'South Park' episode was the best thing because being made fun of on that show is such a huge compliment. Tom and Ilona (Six, the executive producer of The Human Centipede films) thought that it was awesome, too, that it’s being referenced in popular culture. Alec Baldwin even mentioned it on '30 Rock', and it’s just all over the place.”
So all over the place apparently that, according to Yennie (who shot to immediate cult stardom with the release of the first film), she can’t seem to escape it.
“Last night at Sarah’s house in the Hills (note: Yennie here is referring to Sarah Butler of I Spit On Your Grave), we had a full-on water fight with her twelve-year-old neighbors,” said the twenty-six-year-old Wyoming transplant by way of NYC, “and there was this one little boy who was asking all of us, ‘What movie you been in? What movie you been in?’ and we were telling him, and I said The Human Centipede, and I kid you not, this boy had seen it, and I was like, ‘How were you allowed to watch that movie?’ He knew everything about it and was quoting lines from it and asked me to say them because at first he didn’t believe that I was in the film. It was amazing!”
As for the sequel, director Six has purportedly followed the ‘more is better’ methodology and dialed up the shock considerably and with The Human Centipede II will deliver not only a 12-member creation but also all of the blood, gore and excrement that were merely suggested in its darkly comedic predecessor. Horror fans have for the most part celebrated this reported horrific acceleration, although others have not: the British Board of Film Classification (hereafter ‘the BBFC’) refused to grant the sequel a classification, which for all purposes means that the film has been banned in the UK based on its subject matter (theater owners won’t screen it without a rating).
Defending their decision via their website, the BBFC stated of The Human Centipede II, "The film's plot tells the story of a man who becomes sexually obsessed with a DVD recording of the first film and who imagines putting the ‘centipede’ idea into practice. Unlike the first film, the sequel presents graphic images of sexual violence, forced defecation, and mutilation, and the viewer is invited to witness events from the perspective of the protagonist. Whereas in the first film the ‘centipede’ idea is presented as a revolting medical experiment, with the focus on whether the victims will be able to escape, this sequel presents the ‘centipede’ idea as the object of the protagonist’s depraved sexual fantasy."
There’s more, and while Six and IFC have purposefully kept the narrative tightly wrapped, the BBFC’s defensive posture continued to dish plot points, much to the filmmakers’ public chagrin.
"The principal focus of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is the sexual arousal of the central character at both the idea and the spectacle of the total degradation, humiliation, mutilation, torture, and murder of his naked victims," reads the BBFC press release. "Examples of this include a scene early in the film in which he masturbates whilst he watches a DVD of the original Human Centipede film, with sandpaper wrapped around his penis, and a sequence later in the film in which he becomes aroused at the sight of the members of the ‘centipede’ being forced to defecate into one another’s mouths, culminating in sight of the man wrapping barbed wire around his penis and raping the woman at the rear of the ‘centipede’. There is little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalized, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience. There is a strong focus throughout on the link between sexual arousal and sexual violence and a clear association between pain, perversity and sexual pleasure. It is the Board’s conclusion that the explicit presentation of the central character’s obsessive sexually violent fantasies is in breach of its Classification Guidelines and poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers."