The Series (3.5/5, 2/5, 1/5)
The first 2 films in Tom Six's Human Centipede sequence have already made their way to Blu-ray via IFC previously. Now, those horror loving folks at Scream Factory have seen fit to acquire the third film, and unleash the whole trilogy in one large extras laden package including the original color version of the already grotesque in black and white second film.
The original Human Centipede came out in 2009, and just by title and concept alone became the mainstream successor to extreme cinemas most twisted films in the modern era. The film follows Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) two American best friends on a European journey. Their car gets a flat tire in rural Germany, and they end up at the home of Dr. Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser). Heiter drugs the pair, and adds them to a Japanese man he previously trapped to create an entity with one digestive system going ass to mouth with one another.
The second film in a Blair Witch 2 turn of events makes the first film a fiction in it's own sequel. It tells the story of Human Centipede superfan and parking lot attendant Martin Lomax(Laurence Harvey), who as the film begins is watching his favorite film. Martin's home life with his Mother is dreadful, and the psychiatrist he goes to keep his head on straight is molesting him. He decides to steal a warehouse (he kills the person who is leasing the property), and outdo Dr. Heiter by creating a 12 person Human Centipede. In the first film, the main character was a surgeon who attempted to do something "medically accurate", in the sequel, the character of Martin Lomax uses a hammer, pliers, and a staple gun to bring his Human Centipede to “medically inaccurate” grotesque life.
The third films hit a more meta vibe, and declares that BOTH prior films were narrative feature films. It takes place in a prison run by a warden Bill (Dieter Laser), and his accountant Dwight(Laurence Harvey) and their secretary Daisy (Bree Olson). Bill and Dwight are in hot water with the Governor (Eric Roberts), and unless they turn things around they are going to be fired. Instead of making positive changes they bring in the real Tom Six. They decide to create more instances of torture, and create a 500 inmate prison human centipede, but not before killing and maiming various members of the prison population.
I put off watching the Human Centipede films for years. I grew up watching extreme cinema, everything from Cannibal Holocaust to Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood, but these films just seemed to be made to attract a mainstream audience to a shock cinema film. Watching the first film in the series I was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked quite well as a blend of shock horror, and cheesy B Movie homage. It certainly had a grotesque concept, but like 1974's Texas Chainsaw Massacre the violence of the film was kept at a minimum, and it is the material kept offscreen that made the film all the more disturbing.
Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Human Centipede's first sequel ramps up the blood, and dark humor to create something tonally at odds with the first film. While the first film implied the presence of blood and feces, the second film revels in shoving the audiences face in it's grotesqueness. While the first film felt more like a horror film, the second film is like an endurance test for fans of shock and violence. The problem with Human Centipede 2's depiction of violence and sadism is that it just feels empty. The third act of Human Centipede 2 is certainly full of plenty of depravities whether you watch it in color or black and white, but they feel largely lifeless and unaffecting.
The third film in the series was a further step down from the second, though not on the same sadistic tier as the earlier film, it just felt like another pointless exercise from Six. When watching these films in a row one begins to feel that these are a joke from Tom Six on the audience to see how much he can get away with, and the answer is honestly quite a bit. In the span of 5 years Six manages to create 3 violent and sadistic films each with a gleeful wink at his knowing audience. It should be said though I did not get much of anything out of the latter 2 films, in the age of trigger warnings the fact that he even got these made and into theaters is more shocking than anything in the films themselves.
The first 2 films were shot 1:78:1 while Human Centipede 3 was shot 2:35:1 the films are presented 1080p are encoded in MPEG-4 AVC encoded. The 1st and 3rd film have decent color reproduction, nice detail, and solid blacks. The 2nd film which is in black and white has decent contrast and a fine look to it. There is some minor issues with aliasing throughout the 3 presentations, this is probably due to the video source material, but it’s never overly distracting.
The audio is presented in an LPCM 2.0 track in English for the first film a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track for the second, and a DTS-HD MA 7.1 for the third. Each of the tracks sound quite solid with dialogue score and effects coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the tracks.
Each of the Blu-ray's in the set is loaded up with extra features. There are interviews, deleted scenes, galleries, commentaries by Tom Six on each films, and the holy grail of Human Centipede extra features the original color version of Human Centipede 2.
The first Human Centipede film quite surprised me, I spent years convinced I would not be a fan of this one. The other films were pretty much what I expected from the series as a whole. The Blu-ray's look and sound excellent, and are loaded up with extra features. RECOMMENDED.