“The Human Centipede will look like My Little Pony compared to Part 2.” It’s comments like these and a brash, absolutely no-holds barred filmmaking attitude, along with a marketing brilliance that rivals PT Barnum, that have earned Tom Six the latest Doctor Gash’s Tip of the Scalpel honor.
The Human Centipede somehow went from a joke Six made about how to punish a child molester (graft his mouth to the butt of a “fat truck driver” … go Nittany Lions!) to a small budget indie film to an off-putting part of our mainstream culture. The Human Centipede and the graphic imagery it invokes are here to stay, folks. At least for a while.
In developing the first installment, The Human Centipede (First Sequence), Six made a brilliant move … casting Dieter Laser to play the role of Dr. Heiter. Laser’s German influence on the film allowed Six to enhance the evil feel of the film by adding clear Nazi undertones. That, and his overall creepiness, made Laser the perfect choice for the lead role. Six took Laser’s unique additions to the film and the already extreme nature of the concept, and hello, baby, The Human Centipede was born.
The director did, however, have some help along the way. The most unlikely ally for a horror film suddenly arose in Comedy Central. On August 4, 2010, Daniel Tosh of the infamously hilarious Comedy Central clip show “Tosh.O” mentioned The Human Centipede (First Sequence) in a “Spoiler Alert” segment. Tosh invited viewers to go to his website for a full 25-minute spoiler where he riotously discussed the film in detail, much to the delight of over 3 million viewers. Comedy Central highlighted the ‘pede again in the much anticipated premiere of “South Park” Season 15. The episode entitled “HUMANCENTiPAD” combined the hype of the film with that of the popular portable Apple device. Six was basically handed two astronomically huge commercials for his series, and he took the ball and ran with it.
Always planning on a trilogy, Six immediately began to hype The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). And again, Six did all the right things. He was bringing audiences the same concept again so he needed to adapt it, to improve upon it. Of course the obvious first thing to do was show audiences everything he implied in the first film. He implied gore and shit and nastiness but didn’t show much. This time he planned to show it and led the film’s promotion with that fact. The next great move was casting another wildly unique looking actor to play the role of the composer of the centipede. The visual assault began on the audience when Laurence R. Harvey was cast to play the silent part of Martin.
Then what did Tom Six do? He hid Martin from us. He showed us Martin with a box over his head while telling us how much more disturbing The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) would be than the original. He told us about a ‘pede of 12 people. He told us everything and showed us nothing. He toyed with our imaginations. He got us thinking, “Just what the hell is he planning for this movie?” He intrigued us. Fucking brilliant.
Good fortune again smiled on Six in the form of a banning. The BBFC said “no way” to The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), saying it was “…sexually violent and potentially obscene…making 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.” With this announcement, the BBFC basically ignited the curiosity of the entire horror community and the raging success of the film within said community. The ban would later be lifted after two and a half minutes were cut from the film, but the impact had already been felt and the buzz was intense. An astute observer might ponder whether Six petitioned the BBFC himself to have The Human Centipede 2 initially banned.
Upon arriving Stateside on September 22, HC2 had its release at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, just like its predecessor. And, in true William Castle fashion, each audience member was given a complimentary barf bag (just in case) and an ambulance was kept on hand (just in case). This is showmanship, people. This is how it’s done. Don’t just sell them a movie. Sell them an experience!
The Human Centipede burrowed further into the fabric of our society when it intrigued the King of All Media, Howard Stern. Howard spent a considerable amount of time discussing (a.k.a. promoting) the film on multiple occasions recently, thus further ensuring the success of the franchise.
So where are we now? Six is preparing for the third and final Human Centipede film. Rumored to be filmed in New York, we’ve got very little information as to what Tom Six has in store for us with the culmination of the franchise. One would assume he has to raise the bar again to satisfy audiences, but how much higher does the bar go? The bottom line is Six has excelled in promotion to this point with mysterious characters, titillating posters and promotional material and bringing it all home on the screen with some of the most visual assaulting images ever put to celluloid. Tom Six delivers.
It’s all too infrequently that we as audience members are delivered that which we are promised. Far too often the product we receive pales miserably when compared to the initial hype. That is not the case with The Human Centipede series thus far. Tom Six promises madness, and he delivers. And for that, for intriguing us with the bizarre, then satisfying our curiosity and baser impulses in spades, we say thank you to Tom Six with a Doctor Gash Tip of the Scalpel.
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