*. I gave Tom Six credit for going in a new direction in The Human Centipede II, so by rights I should extend the same note of appreciation for what he did with this film. This isn’t more of the same. What it is, is no good at all. But it isn’t more of the same.
*. The idea had potential. The warden of an American prison that is going to hell decides to follow his assistant’s suggestion of keeping the inmates in line by making them into a giant 500-segment “human prison centipede.” That’s an interesting application of the formula.
*. It’s also ridiculous. But then the first movie was the most realistic, while the second definitely moved more in the direction of dark fantasy. Here we just take another step beyond that and end up in the land of slapstick satire.
*. Except it’s not funny. I’ve often said that a horror movie that isn’t scary isn’t the worst thing a moviegoer can be subjected to. A comedy that isn’t funny is an even more painful experience. Well, this movie asks, who says you have to choose? Why not have a horror movie that isn’t scary also be a comedy that isn’t funny?
*. Six literally takes everything from the first two movies that was even moderately well done and wrecks it. Dieter Laser and Laurence Harvey were very good as the leads in The Human Centipede and The Human Centipede II respectively, but they’re both awful here. Laser in particular turns in one of the worst screen performances in film history. He just shouts out all his lines without seeming to have any sense of what he’s saying. Which, if he was lucky, he didn’t. “My leadership balls are atom bombs, 100 megatons each!” is the highest level of wit that’s achieved.
*. The presence of Bree Olson, one of the most accomplished porn actresses of her generation (and “the ultimate American female,” in the words of Tom Six), is easy to make fun of in a “straight” role like this, but in fact she’s the only one in the cast who doesn’t embarrass herself. I think she might have felt more at home working with such wretched material.
*. Eric Roberts at least manages to look amused at the proceedings. He’s really cornered the market on slimy suits lately, hasn’t he?
*. I complimented Six’s eye in the first two films, which I thought made up for the terrible scripts. Which makes it all the more remarkable how this is such an ugly, uninteresting movie to look at. Really, Human Centipede III is so bad, in every way, that I was wondering if Six was even trying.
*. It’s all very knowing, if that’s your thing. Not only does Tom Six appear as himself, but Akihiro Kitamaru (the head of the first human centipede) plays one of the prisoners here, and quotes from Roger Ebert’s review of that film when the prisoners are forced to watch it during their film night. How very meta. I ended my notes on the Full Sequence by saying that this shit was rolling downhill. The warden one-ups this by suggesting that the perfect centipede would be joined in a circle, the shit being endlessly recycled. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing if it meant Six wasn’t going to make any more of these.
*. The proceedings are not so much scary or funny or even gross (though there are a couple of scenes to cringe at) as they are just tasteless. The warden bellows an endless stream of racist rants and eats from a jar of dried clitorises while saying “Thank God for Africa! Thank God for female circumcision!” To be fair he also castrates a male inmate and then eats the severed testicles. That’s gender equality for you.
*. At least there’s less room for sexism in this film, given there’s only one female cast member. But then we do see her getting beaten and then raped while she’s in a coma. So . . .
*. I guess if you’re trying really, really hard you could find something to recommend. Maybe it works on some minimal level as a political satire. It’s the George H. W. Bush Prison and they practice waterboarding. That seems to be a crack at something, especially as Laser is explicitly identified here as a Nazi. When the Governor decides at the end that Boss’s system is “exactly what America needs” a crude and not every original point is made about the carceral state. And I will acknowledge that Six had 100-megaton balls playing the national anthem over the end credits. He’s certainly not afraid of offending anyone.
*. I don’t want to spend any more time on this, as it’s a truly terrible movie. But at the end of my notes on the first Human Centipede I wondered if it might enjoy a rise in critical estimation as its shock value wore off. I wonder too if, twenty years from now, people are going to come to embrace this one. Maybe it will be seen as the grand culmination of the trilogy and one of the most important films of its time. Anything’s possible. Personally I think it’s just too dull and lacking in humour to ever catch on. But in any event, the only thing I can say is that right here, right now, I think it’s downright awful.