“And yet within Six, there stirs the soul of a dark artist. He treats his material with utter seriousness; there’s none of the jokey undertone of a classic Hammer horror film like “Scream … and Scream Again” (1970), in which every time the victim awoke, another limb had been amputated. That one starred the all-star trio of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and you could see they were having fun. Dieter Laser, who plays Dr. Heiter, takes the role with relentless sincerity. This is his 63rd acting role, but, poor guy, is seemingly the one he was born to play.
Tom Six is apparently the director’s real name. I learn his favorite actor is Klaus Kinski, he is an AK-47 enthusiast, and wears RAF sunglasses and Panama hats. Not the kind of guy you want to share your seat on a Ferris wheel. He has said, “I get a rash from too much political correctness.” I promise you that after this movie, his skin was smooth as a Gerber baby’s.
I have long attempted to take a generic approach. In other words, is a film true to its genre and does it deliver what its audiences presumably expect? “The Human Centipede” scores high on this scale. It is depraved and disgusting enough to satisfy the most demanding midnight movie fan. And it’s not simply an exploitation film.
The director makes, for example, effective use of the antiseptic interior of Heiter’s labyrinthine home. Doors and corridors lead nowhere and anywhere. In a scene where the police come calling, Six wisely has Heiter almost encourage their suspicions. And there is a scene toward the end, as the Human Centipede attempts escape, that’s so piteous, it transcends horror and approaches tragedy.
The members of the Centipede are Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie and Akihiro Kitamura. The Japanese actor screams in subtitled Japanese, perhaps because he will broaden the film’s appeal among Asian horror fans. In the film’s last half, the two actresses don’t scream at all, if you follow me.
I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don’t shine..”
ROGER EBERT On THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE.