Following on from two infamously distasteful exploitation films, The Human Centipede III peels back another layer on the Tom Six universe and turns what was once a genuinely unsettling horror concept into complete and utter Grindhouse trash. The third instalment sees another set of villains played by Dieter Laser and Laurence R. Harvey but their previous roles only exist as faint memories. Gone is the fabulous and innately creepy Dr. Heiter, whose madness bubbled below the surface while he coolly carried out a sick master plan. This time around, Laser looks less praying mantis and more Rango as the loud and chauvinistic Bill, stomping and shouting, destroying Heiter’s image and making a complete fool of himself in the process.
It was clear where the series was heading. Six stated numerous times that the first film was merely to get audiences warmed up before the real show. The problem is that he wasn’t half bad when trying to reel people in and The Human Centipede was, and still is, a remarkably undervalued work of horror with a notably unsettling and original concept. What Six’s cockiness did was steal his subtlety and his artistic fervour. He became blinded by his reputation as a ‘sick’ and ‘twisted’ filmmaker, attempting to outdo himself by undoing his own skills and talents.
When Heiter yells “Swallow it!” in the first film, rather than being merely repulsive or offensive, the effect for me has always been a sense of fear that someone could take away someone else’s control over their own body. This breed of horror, or any form of horror for that matter, is nowhere to be found in part three. This particular phrase now has a new and solely sexual meaning, crudely poking fun at the first film for the sake of cheap comedy. From excrement and squelching buttocks to haphazard castrations, The Human Centipede III is, at least for horror fans, an embarrassing tumble into pure scatophilic and sexually perverse filmmaking. There are moments to recoil at in disgust but more than anything there is an unshakable sense of staleness and boredom that must be entailed when being witness to such shoddy craftsmanship.
Six is successful in the sense that he tried not to try and succeeded. His cameo appearance is an opportunity for him to display his smugness as he willingly peruses his own set. Although it seems he spent so long getting his make-up done that he overlooked the cringe-worthy bit part actors, bad special effects, and general sense of unsophistication that taints almost every inch of the frame. The only people left to enjoy such a shambles are dumb, trash-loving teens who can happily throw their popcorn at the screen and giggle at every fart joke.
The Human Centipede series has more than passed its sell by date. Spare yourself from this prison-based nightmare and go and watch the new series of Orange is the New Black instead.
Blu-Ray and DVD special features – The Making of The Human Centipede 3, Alternate ending.
Released on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on 13th July.