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Once a celebrated doctor specializing in conjoined twins, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) grows obsessed with conjoining the unconjoined. Following a semi-successful experiment with dogs, Heiter moves onto human subjects. Just his luck, that a pair of ditzy American tourists wind up on his doorstep, and after a quick trip out the next day he has his three test subjects. Human Centipede came out of the obscurity blocks running, building itself up to full blown cult status without anyone actually seeing the bloody film. Toted as so revolting you simply had to see it, those of us that tend to dabble in the darker, more debaucherous realms of cinema knew it couldn’t have anything on the August Underground, or Guinea Pig series, but anything that catches on with the mainstream that pushes the boundaries of good taste this far deserves a special place in our hearts. That said, there really isn’t a lot of gore on display, rather a really gross idea, so don’t plan any double features with Nekromantik expecting some kind of German grue fest.

Human Centipede: First Sequence
Things start slow. Very slow. I felt like I was watching one of those films Lionsgate puts out in a collection since no one would bother buying any of them alone. A car breaks down, two pretty American girls do everything wrong following the break down, and act badly for a pretty long period. I’m thinking writer/director Tom Six is trying to ape the slow-burns of more successful recent films like Hostel II and Wolf Creek, but his characters and their problems are just too familiar. Then the horror starts, and things continue to creep at a somewhat painful pace.

Human Centipede: First Sequence
The problem is that the climax is in the title and description. We know the victims won’t escape their nasty fate because then we’d never have The Human Centipede. The film builds some suspense on the idea, and the idea is revolting, but once we get to brass tacks we’re just waiting for the gross stuff, and once that’s over with, well, where do we go? The chase through the house is utter time filler, but should be a series of edge of your seat close calls. If this were a traditional slasher the audience could assume that this was the girl that was going to survive the ordeal and kill the mad man, but as an audience we aren’t given that luxury. A later, post operation chase is much more harrowing, as there’s a chance in Hell the centipede can get away, since the title has already been satisfied

Human Centipede: First Sequence


I had no idea what to expect video-wise from this disc. IFC’s track record is pretty good so far, but the film itself isn’t the kind of thing that usually instills confidence. I’d compare it to their semi-recent Dead Snow transfer – super sharp, clean, and more colorful than expected. The sharpness sometimes rolls into the realms of over-sharpness creating minor, thin layers of edge enhancement, and some speckling. Colors are solid, with no blocking or bleeding, though truth be told there isn’t a lot of color in the film. Large sections are simply blue hues with relatively deep blacks and soft white highlights. I could imagine details disappearing on a standard definition disc in these areas. Blood red highlights do stand out nicely in he sickly fluorescent blue sets, and the brown and lush green outdoors are a fine contrast.

Human Centipede: First Sequence


Here we come to the disappointing part of the disc – the audio is only 2.0 Dolby. The lack of surround, LFE and a discreet center channel depletes the production values more than you’d think. The mood music is pushed to a whisper, and almost all the aural emphasis is placed on dialogue. I had to turn my system up pretty loud to even hear the music for much of the film. The missing LFE creates a slim atmosphere. There’s a storm scene that picks the stereo channels a bit, and a couple directional bits of movement, but overall this is a huge disappointment in sound design. At the very least every thing is clear, from vocal performances to the most basic sound effects.

Human Centipede: First Sequence


The extras begin with a commentary track featuring director Tom Six, who sounds nervous right off the bat, and his style is of describing what’s on screen, while offering some technical specs. There’s some interesting behind the scenes stories, but they’re few and far between. Next up is a rather generic collection of behind the scenes (HD, 9:00) footage, just random bug on the wall stuff mixed together with no rhyme or reason. This is followed with a director interview (HD, 5:20), the talking head answering on screen text questions type of interview. You’re going to get most of the same info from the commentary track. A series of casting tapes (SD, 2:00) follows, along with a look at the foley session (SD, 5:00), a deleted scene (HD, 1:30), a trailer, and poster art.

Human Centipede: First Sequence


So The Human Centipede doesn’t live up to the hype, but it’s not because it’s a badly made movie, it’s because the concept doesn’t fill a feature length runtime. It would make a great short, much like Nacho Cereda’s Aftermath (which blows this film away in perverse grotesquery), or maybe even a series of paintings. It’s still worth seeing for genre fans, but with tempered hope. The HD video looks great, with only minor blemishes, but the 2.0 surround is a disappointment.