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Tom Six on Human Centipede II

Submitted by MBergeron on October 5, 2011 – 10:11 pmNo Comment
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There’s a line in the sand between ineffectual horror films and horror films that scare the shit out of you. The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) falls into the latter category.

Director Tom Six purposely set out to make a film as different from the first The Human Centipede (First Sequence) as that film was from the ilk of PG-13 screaming in the dark kinds of films as well as R-rated torture porn films.

“The key is something original,” Six tells Free Press Houston in a phone interview. “Other films use the same premise over and over and over.” Six mentions the first Saw and how it was fresh when it appeared in theaters but the remakes added nothing to the recipe. To my mind, as repellant as Six’s films are, they are a leap in imagination and execution.

Compare the current spate of horror movies and then think back on films like Re-Animator in 1985 and Romero’s Dawn of the Dead in 1978; movies that helped jump start new waves in their respective genres.

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) unwinds in “dark, dirty, hand-held black and white” notes Six, in sharp contrast to the color lensed and sometimes stationary prototype. Six confides “I got death threats after making Human Centipede. The sequel is as much a comment on the tabloid archetype that tried to created their own controversy based on my film.”

Six’s film is definitely catnip for those who felt the first HC didn’t go far enough in depicting violence and gore, and indeed there’s a good portion of the first HC that’s more about the psychological impact of what’s happening than the nuts and bolts of operating on kidnap victims. In Full Sequence, Six totally gives the audience nuts and bolts.

Laurence R. Harvey tells me in the same phone conversation that he uses the “R” middle initial to distinguish himself from the dead actor by the same name. Not that anyone would ever think the two were even remotely related. Harvey plays the lead in HCII(FS), a bleak character in London named Marvin who works as a night watchman in a parking garage and lives a life of fantasy based on his obsession with the movie The Human Centipede. Marvin lives vicariously through his illusions, his corpulent body and silent practically mute manner the opposite of Human Centipede’s demonstrative Dr. Heiter. Marvin kidnaps innocent people who stray in his garage and keeps them prisoner in a rented warehouse. Between bludgeoning and shooting his victim’s heads and legs Marvin takes calls from a talent agent and convinces one of the actresses from the first movie, Ashlynn Yennie, that she’s taking an appointment for an audition for the new Tarantino movie. Even Yennie falls prey to Marvin and soon he’s got 12 bound and gagged specimens ready for his own brutal version of surgery.

This is Harvey’s first feature role after appearing in the short The Pizza Miracle (directed by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas screenwriter Tony Grisoni) and it’s quite a revelation. Harvey’s not afraid to act naked in the metaphorical sense. Marvin, an obsessive little man with his stubby hands, Human Centipede scrapbook and zero life is a captivating character. When he snaps the surprise is not why but how his sensibility has vanished into possession. Harvey tells me “Tom takes a gross out idea and shapes the film around that.” Six recalls how he went through several actors during auditions but found in Harvey “the opposite of Heiter.”

During the audition Six put Harvey on camera and asked him to improvise his character foundling the chair. “I flipped the chair over so its legs were in the air, then I raped it.”

“The audience has seen the idea and now they want to see more, full force,” comments Six. While the entire film is black and white there’s a brief moment when a spurt of color rips across the screen. Six concludes “for me it’s a mix of high art and low art.” The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) plays at the Landmark River Oaks Three this weekend as a midnight movie and also the weekend of October 14 and 15.

- Michael Bergeron

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