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NEW YORK — As the writer/director of one of the sickest horror films ever given a mainstream release, Tom Six is in the unenviable position of having to top himself with its sequel. He manages to do so — at least in terms of violence, gore and body count — but whatever gothic originality the first Human Centipede possessed is altogether lacking in this sorry follow-up.
Much like Wes Craven eventually did in his Nightmare on Elm Street series, Six has gone all meta-theatrical here, positing that the original was, you know, just a movie, and what you’re witnessing now is the real thing.
The nefarious main character is Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a grossly corpulent, asthmatic Brit who lives with his dotty mother (Vivien Bridson) and works as a security guard at an underground security garage. It turns out that Martin’s favorite movie is The Human Centipede, which he watches over and over on a tiny television.
Despite the lame efforts of his ineffectual therapist (Bill Hutchens), it’s clear that Martin is going to go postal. After dispatching his mother by bashing in her skull and propping her up for an intimate meal at the dinner table — Norman Bates, eat your heart out — he goes on a murderous rampage, dispatching his victims in rather unimaginative fashion with guns, knives and blunt objects.
His main goal is to outdo the mad scientist who created the infamous titular creation of the first film. To that end, he hogties a dozen victims in an abandoned warehouse. But lacking his inspiration’s surgical skills, he resorts to a rather low-tech approach — binding his victims mouth to anus — that’s none-the-less disgusting.
In a wan attempt at cleverness, one of the unfortunates is Ashlynn Yennie, the actress who played the rear end of the human centipede in the first film. Picked up at the airport by Martin under the guise of an audition with Quentin Tarantino, she informs him, in typical actor-speak: “I was drawn to the film because of the medical aspect.”
In addition to referencing himself with copious clips from his earlier effort, Six provides plenty of stomach-churning sequences, such as Martin knocking out someone’s teeth one by one with a hammer and another which should dissuade anyone watching from contemplating natural childbirth. Unlike the original, which was in bright color, the sequel is shot in such dark black-and-white that some of the images are barely discernible. Alas, most of them are.
Opens Oct. 7 (IFC Midnight)
Production company: Six Entertainment.
Cast: Ashlynn Yennie, Laurence R. Harvey, Vivien Bridson, Bill Hitchens.
Director/screenplay: Tom Six.
Producers: Ilona Six, Tom Six.
Executive producer: Ilona Six.
Director of photography: David Meadows.
Production designer: Thomas Stefan.
Costume designer: Harried Thompson.
Music: James Edward Barker.
Editor: Nigel De Hond.
No rating, 88 minutes.
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