Tom Six believes he can stretch his human centipede formula into a trilogy, and thus far he is right on track. He has written, directed, and produced, now, two films detailing horrific human centipede fictions, both seeing straight-to-DVD releases and surprising distribution through IFC Films. His most recent effort, The Human Centipede 2: (Full Sequence), haphazardly links itself in story to First Sequence, and is the exact stuff you’d expect Six to follow up First Sequence with. Garish shock cinema. Grotesque surgery performed by an asthmatic overweight Uncle Fester lookalike. Having seen Six’s First Sequence and been amazed that someone would release something so debasing to filmmakers everywhere, laughing in those few places no other friends would, I decided I’d give THC2: FS a go.
Martin Lomax (Laurence R. Harvey) is an asthmatic forty-something that lives at home with his mother, Misses Lomax (Vivien Bridson), an over-the-top character who errs on annoying most scenes. Martin, our overweight Uncle Fester, works in a tollbooth at a parking garage in London. Martin just loves, loves, loves centipedes. He owns one as a pet and was sexually abused by his father. What Martin fetishizes are the fictional surgical innovations of Dr. Heiter (Deiter Laser) in First Sequence. He keeps a scrapbook of First Sequence lore beneath his mattress, is made to meet with one Dr. Sebring (Bill Hutchens). Dr. Sebring is a heavily-bearded-but-infinitely-more-repulsive Freud. He wants to sleep with Martin more than he wants to help him. First Sequence exists as a real film in Martin’s London. The rest of THC2: FS Martin spends realizing his fetish in a most slaughterhouse fashion. It’s up to THC2: FS’s audience participant to determine the level to which Martin succeeds in employing his surgical handicraft. THC2: FS is essentially an account of an amateur surgery practice undertook by one crazed copycat on twelve innocent victims, the grotesque, garish mouth-to-anus surgery an utterly original trope in its real world application.
We First Sequence audience participants must have all along been clamoring for, in our observable online/public anticipation for THC2: FS’s green lighting, four times the “100% medically inaccurate” mouth-to-anus surgical procedure first conceptualized in First Sequence. Six must have had to spend some time figuring out how he could top such a garish diddy like First Sequence, having killed off Dr. Heiter proper. I’d be pulling my hairs out if this was my film. How could Six script anything else for part two? First Sequence’s story had come to such a halt. Where would Six go? Minutes Six must have pondered this very dilemma, and then: eureka! Six’s solution was simple: take the centipede formula out of First Sequence’s world, and put it into the real one. Six could make Martin’s actions consequences of his viewing First Sequence in the THC2: FS world, to further seize upon First Sequence’s cult. Six would make First Sequence as horrifically real for Martin as it was for us. And make it real Six did.
Admittedly, curiosity originally piqued my interest in, and conversation was the sole qualifier for, my sustaining viewership of THC2: FS. My boss and I had jokingly promised to Skype each other our simultaneous viewer experience; I was to disrupt his viewing like any other rude theatregoer, text a friend or field a phone call from my mother on speaker phone when THC2: FS was most tense. I was due off work some hours before close, and my boss was stuck closing. It was Easter Sunday. The day had begun with my mother suggesting her and I watch The Passion of the Christ while I was in town visiting. My boss and I never Skyped. In fact, I texted him and told him outright that he should just avoid beginning the sequel to last year’s pop culture phenomenon. THC2: FS’s end is laughable, the stuff of elementary script writers.
What Six presents as part two in his trilogy is an unsuccessful sophmoronic affront on cinema. I don’t think it was his aim to do so, or that this is his cult’s general perception of the sequel. There were some funny albeit dark moments to First Sequence, sure, but as far as THC2: FS goes, it stands mostly unaffected by its predecessor, not continuing Six’s presentation of Dr. Heiter’s growing madness, but rather abandoning all that and introducing a madder, more sinister surgeon, in Martin. Shot in color and then changed over to black and white in post-production, I was initially suspect of THC2: FS’s visual incongruences with First Sequence, though Six seems to see no harm in hurriedly fitting THC2: FS with a green jacket. Our crazed copycat surgeon doesn’t talk, and the only dialogue comes from either his victims begging or awful one-dimensional supporting characters. You can see why I need color, no? The surgical gore, shit splattering on a camera’s lens, a baby’s skull being crushed in by its mother’s foot; these things can never make up for Six’s aimless, meandering effort. No amount of horrific spectacle can.
Six’s reverence for and positioning of his own work in THC2: FS is likewise detestable. THC2: FS is such a far cry from a film, more a boastful commentary aiming to resurrect First Sequence’s limelight experienced three years ago when contemporary popular culture first got wind of Six’s formula.
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). Directed by Tom Six. With Laurence R. Harvey (Martin Lomax), Ashlynn Yennie (herself), Bill Hutchens (Dr. Sebring), and Vivien Bridson (Misses Lomax). Released October 7, 2011, by IFC Films.