Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Defending Tom Six Part 2: The Human Centipede 2 and Beyond

Continuing on from yesterday, here is Part 2 of Defending Tom Six: The Human Centipede 2 and Beyond... Caution: Some images and descriptions may not be for the faint-hearted.

This black and white, dialogue-sparse film divided critics on release, with separate calls of it being violence for the sake of violence, or it being a torture porn film to the extreme. The fact of it is that the film is about a mentally challenged, odd looking man who is obsessed with his favourite film, The Human Centipede, and wants to remake it in real life, but with a dozen people. He doesn't speak, his actions are thinly justified, and the film not only doesn't shy away from the onscreen violence, but actually revels in it. So, can The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) really be defended? 

Just LOOK at him!

Of course it can! And here is why; Tom Six is not a fool. He might be opportunistic in that he knows what to exploit from his films to sell them, but behind all the buzz of the first Human Centipede is an actual decent film. Is HC2 over the top? Yes. Is it disgusting and repulsive? Yes. But the most important question, is it art? And the answer is a resounding yes.

I could spout the cliché of how art always challenges people, but beyond that, this is an extreme form art film. Look back at HC1 and the ridiculous buzz that grew around this godawful film that in the end, is actually rather tame by modern horror standards. The main thing to look at is just how encompassing the reaction was, and just how many times people called Tom Six depraved and demented, even though it was unjustified and undoubtably at least part of the time by people who only had heard about the film's plot. 

Cut to HC2, which is undoubtedly as graphic and twisted as they say it is (with some people saying it is actually boring because of just how nonstop it is with its violence. More on that in a bit). So, Tom Six finally lives up to his well deserved reputation as filth! Huzzah! Actually, not so fast. HC2 is a DIRECT and unmistakable response to the hype and hysteria of HC1. Think about it; this film IS wall to wall grotesque, and it is a world filled with unsavory characters, pretty much none of them worth our sympathy. If Six was going to get lambasted for being a sicko, then fuck it, he will be a sicko. Hell, he acknowledges that the first film WAS just a film, essentially settling this film up as a 'hey, look, we know what you think of the first film, let's talk about that'.

The first film left everything up to the imagination and people still found so much to cause controversy over, so this film offers people exactly what they think they despise but secretly really want (because we all love a bit of sadism, and honestly, having sadism to complain about). The violence is realistic and sickening, make no mistake (though I will admit to seeing a very slightly censored version), but the general reaction, especially after all the hubbub of the BBFC nearly banning the film, has almost been of disinterest, or more importantly, feigning disinterest. Six delivered a film to get up in arms about, and everyone collectively decided to pay it minimal attention. From a business standpoint, that must be frustrating, but from an artistic one, Six actually proved something to every one of his detractors; that they weren't paying attention the first time.

HC2 was too obvious in its disgust. People had no interest with something that was blatantly out to shock them. By contrasting the two films, the reaction to the first film was beyond the reaction to the second film (once it eventually came out), regardless of how disgusting the second one is.

And make no mistake, it IS disgusting.

So the intentions of the film are very clear and have major artistic merit. But what about the story? As I mentioned, a lot of reviews say the film was boring and repetitive due to the constant barrage of violence. The argument being that since there was no let up, it was becoming tired with its recurrence (this in itself is a brilliant reaction to evoke, echoing the fable of the man finding one dead body and crying, two bodies and weeping, just passing three bodies, and gradually not caring as the bodies grew more and more), so you could be excused for guessing that the characters are simply killer fodder, but this is not the case. I won't lie, the characters aren't exactly well drawn, but we have all walks of every day life covered, including some that appear to be there just for our guilty mauling, most notably the egocentric actress hoping to impress Quentin Tarantino. You don't really care what happens to these people, because they are caricatures of every day life and the torture of them is akin to making fun of the Kardashians (though in a more extreme manner). 

Damn Kardashians couldn't actually make it to the film...

Our lead character is a particularly horrible number; simple-minded, overweight, silent, conniving. We experience the film almost exclusively through his eyes, and never doubt for one second that he is troubled and up to no good. But then, we get more familiarised with his mother and his sexually perverted doctor. Suddenly, we feel a twinge of guilt for completely hating this lowely character without giving him any due. We should feel awful for assuming that just because he has mental problems that he would be a monster for no other reason. The plot itself is quite thinly drawn, but the exchange of these characters profiles (the beautiful American is deplorable, the fat killer is pitiable), is given plenty of breathing room. 

Speaking of something given plenty of breathing room, the violence (again!) must be mentioned. It is wall to wall, but if it isn't, the point is actually lost. I do question censorship in general, but for this film in particular, it needs to be uncut in many respects. I won't spoil it, but as the violence escalates and we are privey to plenty of bloodshed, there is one violent action that could almost come right out of a Troma film, and that is the point. It clearly says to the viewer 'hey, you know how intense everything has been? Well, it's a film!'. This moment, which I believe may be trimmed in the UK cut, is so vital in the films interpretation. 

So, there you go. The Human Centipede 2 was actually one of the most artistically important films of last year. Plenty of people have compared Six and HC to Jorg Buttgereit and his Nekromantik films, and I am siding that it is an controversial artistic endeavor, but an artistic endeavor nonetheless. The film won't be for everyone, but if you view it as the social commentary it is, you will receive so much more out of your viewing of it.


And the future for The Human Centipede? The third film is in the works and was initially set to have the fictional doctor from the first film with the killer of the second. I'd love to see this play out, but there appear to have been complications with the doctor from HC1. Six is promising a horrendous flick to make HC2 seem tame. This actually worries me slightly because as intense as HC2 is, it is kind of an ending point for the torture porn genre. Just like all alien films hide in the shadows since Alien, nothing should be able to surpass HC2 in terms of violence. I know Six is a savvy business man and knows what to take advantage of, so hopefully he is just being the ringmaster I imagine him to be, but there is a real worry that maybe he has believed the hype about him being a sick monster.

Six, for your own sake, make YOUR film, not the one you think you should make.

Ladies and gentlemen, you can now enjoy The Human Centipede films with a clean conscience!

The Human Centipede 2 is available UNCUT for legal download at a very reasonable price right here. The download includes some great additional features.

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