REVIEW: ‘The Human Centipede (First Sequence)’ (2009)

Lindsey (Ashley C. Williams) is up to her... eyeballs in trouble in "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)"
Lindsey (Ashley C. Williams) is up to her... eyeballs in trouble in "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)"

Directed/written by: Tom Six
Starring: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura
Running time: 92 minutes
Rated: R

Stupid should hurt. I mean really hurt, like some kind of immediate sharp pain, like someone shoving a cold fireplace poker into your eye and wiggling it around. Stupid should hurt like that. Maybe if we had that kind of response to doing stupid things, it’d save us from a lot of life’s little problems, like discussing politics and religion at the Thanksgiving dinner table, or dating Hooters’ Girls, or electing self-seeking philandering xenophobes to office.

It might have also prevented a lot of what happens in “the Human Centipede (First Sequence)”.


Genre fans have been hearing about this movie for quite a while now. The product of Dutch writer/director, Tom Six , “Centipede” is the story of Doctor Heiter (brought to ghoulish life by Dieter Laser), a specialist in separating conjoined twins, who has decided he would like to connect three people into one form, joined by a common digestive system. How exactly would he accomplish this? If you haven’t heard already, you can still see it coming. He would accomplish this by sewing them together, mouth to anus.

Yeah, you read that right.
Mouth to anus.

Heiter gets his subjects however he can – in the opening, we see him kidnapping a truck driver – but he gets two thirds of his centipede in the form of two American girls vacationing in Germany, Lindsey and Jenny (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie, respectively). The third is a Japanese man, Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura). All in all, it’s a promising premise… but not much else.

To me, it’s never a good sign if you root for the obvious victims in the horror movie to die horribly, unless the purpose is for some kind of commentary. Take Paul Reiser’s Burke character in “Aliens”. When he died, people cheered because he was a slimy, corporate toady who deserved it. And he was Paul Reiser. But you get my point. Here, however, within the first fifteen minutes, I was already hoping for Lindsey and Jenny to die. Why? Well, because they were stupid – 100% “Here’s Your Sign” stupid. We first see them in their hotel room. OK, so they’re New York party girls. A little cliché, but no biggie… until the clichés started to pile up like dirty diapers. Next, they get lost. Then, they get a flat tire in the middle of the woods at night in Germany. Of course, there’s no cell signal there. Then, neither of them knows how to change a tire. Gods forbid that either of them tries to read the directions. No, it is better that they sit in the car and get accosted by some pervy old guy. They follow those nuggets of brilliance up with deciding to set off, on foot, in the middle of the night, in dresses and heels into the forest.

Where is a grue when you need one?

And after they are captured, they stay restrained in their hospital beds. It’s not until the good doctor starts sedating them for their operation does Lindsey try to make a break for it – and then she easily defeats her bonds by pulling it off with her teeth.

It was stupid little things like that that ruined what could have been a very good film. The concept alone is enough to make most people wince, but it was wrapped in worn out genre clichés and shallow stereotypes that robbed it of being something powerful and grotesque. Somewhere midway through, it stopped being a horror film and became something like a twisted Saturday Night Live skit gone horribly wrong. It also failed to be engaging on any other level than the obvious, and once you got past the coprophagia, there wasn’t much left.

“The Human Centipede (First Sequence)” squanders a potent hype machine, Laser’s eerie performance and a promising premise for a melody of one banal note. With any luck, the sequel – that’s already in the pipe – won’t make the same mistakes.

Joe Lopez
Dubbed, "TerrorScribe" by a former editor, Joe made the conversion to horror sometime in the mid-2000s. Little did he know he'd favored the genre all of his life. When not struggling with short stories, he provided genre film reviews for local entertainment sites and later genre sites who could suffer his cynical views.

It was that same cynicism - and some might say hubris - that lead him to have a brief flirtation with filmmaking. His first two efforts, "Annotated" and "Antes Que Seja Tarde (Before It's Too Late)" both premiered at a local H.P. Lovecraft film festival. A third short, "Survivor Girl" proved to be his undoing though plans are in the works to revived the cursed project.

Born and raised in Dallas, TX., Joe now resides in a small Texas town. Statistics say more dead bodies turn up in small towns that big cities... though he claims to have NOTHING to do with that.
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