Directed by: Tom Six
Produced by: Ilona Six
Screenplay by: Tom Six
Starring: Dieter Laser
Laurence R. Harvey
Tommy 'Tiny' Lister
Music by: Mischa Segal
Cinematography by: David Meadows
Editing by: Nigel de Hond
Studio: Six Entertainment Company
Distributed by: IFC Midnight
Release date(s): May 22, 2015 (United States)
July 10, 2015 (United Kingdom)
Running time: 102 minutes
Production budget: N/A
Box-office revenue (as of publication): $14, 562 (domestic only)
Hey there children. 2016 may well be here (there's no may well about it, it's well and truly here), but there is still plenty of work to be done as regards the year of 2015 in film. Realistically, because I've been busy and there's a backlog of about a dozen films, plus maybe another fifteen-twenty that I'm planning on getting in there in contention for my awards, there's a chance I might not be able to get as many full reviews out as I wanted. I'm mulling over the idea of potentially continuing on with reviewing these films after my awards, doing away with taking time off and just gradually working through them. There's quite a few big movies that I'd like to cover, and I feel to do them justice, that might be the necessary measure. Anywho, as I'll be going with reviewing, starting to work up on my Hall of Fame and my annual Award for the Best and Worst in Film in 2015, for all the latest and greatest as regards the movies, keep your eyes posted!
Today's review is for The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence), purportedly the final film in Tom Six's Human Centipede trilogy. Now for those of you don't know I'm actually one of the champions for the first two Human Centipede films. Admittedly, they aren't great movies by any stretch, but they are good, serviceable horror films that do what they say on the tin in delivering a thoroughfare of exploitation nastiness. They got a 6.5/10 and a 6.9/10, which retrospectively I feel to be appropriate. I haven't seen either since they were originally released. I caught a screener of the first and thought 'hey, there's an original concept,' I thought Dieter Laser was great and it was reminiscent of the early work of David Cronenberg (though none of the characters were as one-dimensional and it lacked the thematic undertones of the body-horror master). The second I though was better, with it's black-and-white photography, it's shockingly grotesque imagery (some of the things in that movie are beyond horrific) and I though Laurence R. Harvey conveyed well through physical demeanour and expression the extent of his troubled mental state. What's interesting though is that four years ago, I mentioned Mark Olsen, writing for the Los Angeles Times, arguing that "Six has more or less contorted himself into The Human Ouroboros," which was a sentiment that reflected my own, as I expressed that another film "could be flogging a dead horse." Also of note was that I did not catch this film in the cinema, on DVD or online, but rather on demand on Netflix, and given the four-year gap one would imagine that they not only had a hard time bringing it into production but also distribution after the controversy created by the second film (it was one of only a dozen films to have been banned in the UK over the past twenty years). So, this third Human Centipede, set in a prison, William 'Bill' Boss (Dieter Laser), the psychotic warden of the jail, facing great problems with controlling the population of prisoners. Receiving pressure from Governor Hughes (Eric Roberts) to clean up his act (he regularly sexually assaults his secretary Daisy, played by Bree Olsen, and is personally involved in numerous incidents with his prisoners) or he will be fired. Thus, his accountant Dwight pitches to him his "brilliant idea," taking inspiration from the first two Human Centipede films, to turn the five-hundred-strong prison population into a giant centipede. Got it? Good!
Okay then, starting off with the good about the film, I have to give a degree of praise to Laurence R. Harvey again. Most of the film is occupied by Dieter Laser's Bill Boss (more of which later), but in more of a supporting role Harvey is convincing as Dwight. It's not a great performance by any means, but the fact that I didn't clock it was Harvey and that this fat dude from Wigan is able to pass for an accountant from the American South speaks well of his talents. Finally (already), I'd be a liar if I didn't say that there were a couple of things in the film that didn't get from the gross-out standpoint. I personally hate anything involving faeces (including scat jokes), and so I can't help but have an involuntary dry-heave whenever one of the inmates, whose Crohn's disease is giving him constant diarrhoea, is attached to another man's face, or another mentally unstable prisoner who enjoys eating his own shit. Sorry, don't know if this is a plus or not, but I can't stand anything involving shit.
Speaking of shit, that about describes this film in one word: shit. I'll say it again. Shit. With that got out of the way, this being a review I have to critically analyse this, though whether or not such a vile and reprehensible work deserves such attention. I don't hate it because of the violence or the general content onscreen. I hate it because it is an obnoxious and thoroughly repugnant film in just general demeanour and the way in which it is presented. Many of my favourite films ever made are ultraviolent, to say the least, but here the violence, sexual violence and content serves absolutely no higher purpose other than to simply attempt to gross-out the audience. Take the sexual violence of something like Blue Velvet, which works on so many levels beyond the acts themselves; there's voyeurism, power-play and it subtly questions the main character and the viewer about their complicity with it. Bill Boss being rude to the secretary who just gave him a blowjob means absolutely nothing aesthetically if there's no real context to it. Instead of saying something about women being degraded, it just ends up being degrading to women. Sadly, my thoughts from four years ago regarding the potential problems of a third film with this concept were confirmed. The first two were never anything special, but they were good exploitation flicks. This just shows that Tom Six ran out of decent ideas and just decided to make a mish-mash of nonsensical waffle. Thus, we get Six attempting to be 'smart' and 'sophisticated' with his botched attempt at political satire. Egads, they're implementing The Human Centipede, a horror movie concept, to the uncontrollable US prison system, transgressing all concepts of human rights. And you know what the brilliant thing is? It works! Hah hah hah! Har-de-bloody-har! I'm sorry, we didn't realise that you were such a fucking genius, Mr. Six! Speaking of Mr. Six, the film, like it's immediate predecessor, is a meta-film, given that the world in which the film is set acknowledges The Human Centipede films. So Six decides to one-up himself and write in himself as a primary supporting character playing himself. Yes, Tom Six has wrote himself into his own movie as a 'creative consultant' to the prison warden and his accountant. And wouldn't you know it's the cool, hip, King of Swing himself, entering to a jazzy theme driving his convertible up to the prison gates, walking into the room in a flood on sunlight in an all-white suit, resplendent with matching white hat and a pair of shades. The only things he's missing are a cigarette holder, cane and a monocle. And he's bad. Real bad. Also, as far as characterisation and dialogue goes, this has to register among the proverbial all-time lows. The film's main character, Bill Boss, has to rank among the worst protagonists in film history. Essentially, what it boils down to is that he's a deranged racist cum misogynist, and Six's direction of Dieter Laser seems to consist of telling him to yell and scream as loud as possible while mangling the film's already hideous dialogue. Which he does. A lot. Laser may have been having fun playing this part, but having to watch and HEAR to Laser froth and rave his way through the film is about much as listening to loose change rattling around in a washing machine. Laser was a lot more menacing when he showed a degree of restraint in the first film when he played Dr. Josef Heither; this is just annoying. Another thing that I didn't like about the film was the low production standards involved. Yes, it's low-budget film, but there's no reason why good cinematography and subtle editing can't work around the obvious limitations. Except that every scene in the film puts on display the fact that the sets consist of walk-in-cupboards, a minuscule corridor with about a dozen cells, a hospital room, a canteen that doubles as a screening room and a yard. That's it. And they're all overly lit with a phoney sheen, a consistent gloss that doesn't register well with the eye. It disgusts me to think that there are beautiful-looking horror films with such imaginative use of cinematography, things like Suspiria, Audition, Eyes Without A Face, that have to exist in the same world as this. There are also too many long takes, with the cuts in the editing suite being sloppily executing and poorly timed. Some of them don't even fit in with the natural progression of the way things should storytelling wise, and only served to confuse ad nausea. And you wouldn't think that Mischa Segal had such a prominent educational background in studying music, for his score sounds like just about any other typical 'horror film score,' with honking brass sections and screeching strings. Again, another thing all three of those previous films pull off well in their own respective ways. You'll have to excuse my grammatical inflections, starting sentences with 'and' in my own education being a big no-no for English. I do apologise, but the fact is is that this film is so bad that it defies any set standard of rules when it comes to expressing your opinions. The prevailing feeling I got at the end of the film's one-hundred-and-two minutes (not an especially long running time, but long enough in this case) was this sense of unadulterated, narcissistic ugliness. It took about two years max for a sequel to come out to the first film, and there has been four between this and the second. Part of me thinks that the reason it took so long to come out was because no one wanted to take it, and no one wanted to take it because Tom Six made something so bad nobody would touch it. He should consider himself lucky they had a distributor like IFC Films there to at least try and get the film out there, but nobody wanted to. They said no; the critics will hate it, audiences will hate it, it won't even make enough money to break even. No no, no no no!
Normally, the worst films to review are those that end up getting a rating of between four and six, that middle ground which is neither good enough or bad enough to register to any degree of significance. The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) obviously falls into the latter category, but even though I enjoy ripping apart a bad movie that especially deserves it, I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't a chore this time round. It's no secret that I'm a borderline masochist who has seen some absolutely hideous films over the years, but this is easily among the worst. I just looked back through my past list worst films of the year (which omits some other real stinkers), and the worst thing is that all of them are genre films. I love genre cinema, and The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) is not only a disgrace to that rich history of genre and horror cinema, but any semblance of a credible film, failing in nearly everything it sets out to do. What it boils down is Tom Six degrading himself by more or less masturbating in public for all to see, and yes, it looks as bad as that sounds in your head.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 0.7/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - (I'm) So Glad (You're Gone)