Director: Tom Six
Writer: Tom Six
Stars: Eric Roberts, Bree Olson, Dieter Laser, Laurence R. Harvey
UK DVD out now from Monster Pictures UK
Taking inspiration from The Human Centipede films, the warden of a notorious and troubled prison looks to create a 500-person human centipede as a solution to his problems.
From the opening scene we are made aware of the intentions of this film. It is to be an even further satire of itself. The Human Centipede III (THC3) goes full meta, transcending the initial sequel’s self-referential tone once again. This time around however, there is more focus on the dark humour rather than the visceral imagery, leaving the centipede itself almost as an afterthought. For those of you unfamiliar with THC trilogy, the original claiming to be “100% medically accurate” introduced us to the ‘pede. Many would have avoided the film on this premise alone. In actual fact a lot was left to the imagination while gore and filth were left clinically censored. It was up to you the viewer to envisage the horror, which was in itself slightly plausible, adding to the discomfort.
Wondering how this concept could possibly be expanded, Six did in fact manage to take it a step further in the follow up THC2. If there was any doubt as to how this franchise could get more disgusting, it was delivered in full here. Using the first film as inspiration, a mentally disabled and sexually abused night watchman, takes it upon himself to make his own human centipede. The result was a less clinical, blunt, violent filth fest, which was utterly fantastic. An intentional decision I believe, as it was actually a lot more believable than the first,proving Six is not afraid to push the envelope.
With the magnum opus that was THC2, under his belt; Six had to deliver something really special to top THC2. Enter please THC3 (Final Sequence). We are introduced to prison warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser), a man at his wit’s end with the prison. High riot rates, medical costs and prisoner turnover, he has resorted to any means to keep the prison population in check. Involuntary castration, boiling-water boarding, anything! It doesn’t work. His accountant, Dwight Butler (Laurence R. Harvey) has an idea; a prison-centipede, 500 men long. He got the idea from watching the first two films. Under pressure from Governor Hughes (Eric Roberts) to rectify the situation in the prison, Boss is eventually convinced to move ahead with the ‘pede, that will, quite figuratively, bring the inmates to their knees. Tom Six is himself drafted in as consultant human centipede expert, who also gives his blessing to the project adding to the absurdity of it all.
While I can appreciate what it is that is trying to be done here, as I myself am a huge fan of the series, it just didn’t deliver on its promise. When one has to turn on the subtitles to understand the film, which is in your native tongue, you know you’re in trouble. As much as Laser captivated audiences as the maniacal Dr. Joseph Heiter in THC1, his role as Bill Boss here is completely overacted. Scenes are filled with unintelligible shouting, hence the reason for subtitles. In an era where people expect a degree of intelligence to their villains, this performance stands out like a sore thumb in comparison to the supporting cast. Harvey then, as a result is overshadowed by Laser, who actually gave a good performance as the insecure and sheltered Butler. (It must be noted also that an unused alternate ending in my opinion, would have justified Boss’ persona while also wrapping up the series in a nice bow.)
Shouting aside, the production value and supporting cast were actually rather good. THC3 had its moments, admittedly I found myself both laughing and cringing at some of the antics in the prison. Six himself can be seen struggling to keep a straight face when present on screen as a reminder, that this film is meant to be a big two fingers to all the critics. For this I admire Six, he made a third instalment… because he could, and then went completely over the top with it, for better or for worse.
Weighing it all up, the final sequence of the trilogy entertained. It had its flaws but somehow worked in its own way. In Six’s own words the film is a “…pitch black comedy and total insanity”. I agree, but in taking this approach, it did deviate from the shock horror that the franchise is known for. This is in line with what Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 did for its franchise, as the previous instalment could not be trumped for its horror; a dark comedic direction was taken in its place. With the prison human centipede getting severely limited screen time however, the film could have stood on its own without it. This would leave the fantastically complementary First and Full Sequence intact as shock horror icons paving the way for new and fresh ideas that I’m sure Six has plenty of, for example, the upcoming The Onania Club.
Flawed, silly, but a bit of fun all the same.