US | 2015 | Directed by Tom Six
Logline: The psychopathic warden of a failing prison takes inspiration from a horror movie and has a “human centipede” created surgically using all the inmates.
The most anticipated sequel since Dario Argento announced Mother of Tears (the third part of his Three Mothers trilogy), but only marginally less disappointing than Argento’s disaster, Tom Six’s rip-roaring trilogy of revulsion is finally stitched up (well, not quite, but more on that later). The Human Centipede III is the Final Sequence, and, fittingly, it pushes the boundaries of “good taste” deep into the trough, swirls it around, fishes it out, and flaps it in your face, flinging fecal matter and disgustingness in your eye. But is it actually any good? Well, this depends entirely on your point of view.
The First Sequence was an exercise in grotesque restraint, far more suggestive than explicit, a little like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in tone and execution. The title alone conjured up far worse things than what was actually depicted on screen. Still, it was an experience that few people were prepared to take on, and even some horrorphiles found it unpleasant. But any narrative that involves poor victims being force-fed shit is, well, unpleasant.
Dieter Laser played the insane surgeon with consummate skill. The move became a modern “classic”, did solid business, and secured Six the opportunity to move onto the production of the sequel - Full Sequence - in which he stated, “Part 1 was My Little Pony compared with Part 2, and Part 2 is a Disney film compared with what will be in Part 3.” Yes, to the former, no to the latter.
Tom Six decided in the editing stages of Full Sequence to grade the movie into monochrome (with the exception of fecal splatter), as he thought the black and white effect would make the movie scarier, and ultimately would effectively reflect the intensely dark psychological state of mind of the movie’s protagonist/antagonist Martin (Laurence R. Harvey). With minimal dialogue and maximum grime the result was an expressionist nightmare masterpiece, not too dissimilar to David Lynch's seminal Eraserhead in its Grand Guignol weirdness. It was also a brilliant piece of coal comedy. The dark comic tone of the first movie painted even blacker, with a clever juxtaposition between the two movies (Martin repeatedly watches a DVD of the fictional First Sequence, fetishising it, possessing the evil, and eventually creates his own elaborate monstrosity).
It made sense then that the Final Sequence would take inspiration from the first two movies and continue the fictional/non-fictional stylistic. As such, the Final Sequence begins with the last moments of the Full Sequence (just as Full Sequence begins with the closing scene of First Sequence) being played on video and watched by prison warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) and his personal assistant, Dwight Butler (Laurence R. Harvey). The three movies are now “stitched” together!
With the bar raised so high (or low, depending on your sensibilities) and the subsequent immediate cult status of Full Sequence, Six made the decision not to play to fans' assumptions that he would up the gore quota, but instead opted to keep the shit out of sight, and the bloodletting to a minimum. The shock factor is definitely in effect, however, the biggest slap in the face is just how disappointing the movie is.
Six has attempted a satire on American morality and political correctness (a la John Waters), but the movie simply isn’t very clever in that department. Even Tom Six playing himself only comes across as a self-indulgent gimmick. As a parody of the first two movies I barely spluttered out a chuckle, so as a comedy, the movie fails miserably. Dieter Laser’s bully warden is meant to represent the nadir of human despicability; a deeply sexist, racist, bigot drunkard, who savours dried clitorises from circumcised native African tribeswomen, and enjoys the crumbed testes of a particularly staunch inmate, whom he castrates with pleasure (the movie’s only genuinely horror cringe moment), but – and this is probably the movie’s biggest flaw – much of Boss’s dialogue is unintelligible due to Laser’s thick German accent and his penchant for shouting most of the time. Sure he's completely OTT, but he's no Divine.
It’s a shame Harvey’s Butler is a shadow compared to his inspired turn as Martin in the trilogy’s middle sequence, whilst Eric Roberts brief appearance, as the State Governor, is completely thankless. Porn star Bree Olsen plays the buxom warden secretary, waddling around in a tight uniform, being humiliated and abused left, right, and centre. I was very surprised she didn’t get her kit torn off by lusty inmates, considering the “offensive” nature of the movie. Robert LaSardo, as the nut-doomed inmate, attempts to have fun, and, in a nod to Paul Morrisey’s Flesh for Frankenstein, he gets to fuck the warden over in gung-ho kidney fashion.
Oh, I'll give props to Six for including The Human Caterpillar! The movie's one true inspired moment.
Shot like daytime soap, The Human Centipede III might've been more interesting springing out of nowhere as a late night television sitcom about a megalomaniacal, lunatic warden trying to keep his head above (latrine) water in a riotous prison system, instead of having the brilliant shadow of The Human Centipede II shrouded over it. But it was always going to be the difficult third, and perhaps in years to come Final Sequence might be judged less harshly when viewed without the comparisons to the first two parts. I doubt I will change my mind, but, that said, I am interested in watching the “Complete Human Centipede Cut” (all three movies edited together into a four-and-three-quarter hour crawl) that Tom Six intends to release a little further down the track, call me a glutton for punishment.