Tom Six, the man behind the original Human Centipede, promised that his follow up film would make the original 'look like My Little Pony.' Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say, and with Valentine's Day almost upon us at the time of this writing, it's time to take the taste test. When the film begins, we meet Martin (Laurence Harvey), a bug eyed mentally challenged man who lives at home with his mother (Vivian Bridson) and who works nights in a desolate parking garage. When he's not at work, his mother is trying to get him to connect with Dr. Sebring (Bill Hutchens), a lecherous psychiatrist with a giant beard, but Martin is more interested in feeding his pet centipede.
What neither mother nor doctor realize, however, is that Martin has a ridiculously unhealthy obsession with a film he watches over and over again - The Human Centipede. So obsessive is he that he diligently fills his scrapbook with pictures of the cast and notes one just how exactly Dr. Heiter went about connecting those three unfortunate souls so that he can outdo him and live his dream of connecting twelve people together, ass to mouth. Martin has a surprisingly easy time gathering together the victims he needs - be it the obnoxious tattooed man who lives upstairs and plays his music too loud, a pregnant woman very obviously close to her due date, or even one of the stars of the original movie he convinces to journey to London under the false pretenses of auditioning in the latest Quentin Tarantino movie. He does now, however, have the medical skills possessed by his idol - but he'll make do. What he lacks in medical training he'll more than make up for with determination and resourcefulness as the film's atrocity exhibition begins and Six more than lives up to his 'My Little Pony' claim.
Just as sick and twisted as its creator promised it would be, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) offers up pretty much every possibly horror you can imagine and it does so right in your face, leaving very little to the imagination (which is something that the first film did very well). Those of the belief that less is more in terms of the effectiveness of a horror film will no doubt write this one off pretty early on but Six stated he was setting out to push the envelope and that he was essentially going for the gross out here, and that's exactly what he does. While the film (which was shot in color) is shown in stark black and white, that does very little to dampen the impact of what has to be one of the goriest and nastiest movies to come around in quite some time. This film is a vicious little bastard of a movie and it's only too happy to rub your nose in it.
With that said, there's more to this than masturbation, rape, crowbar attacks, forced coprophilia, child abuse, murder, and horrifyingly amateur surgical procedures. As it was with the first film, the film has a very rich and very obvious sense of dark humor behind it. There are scenes that, if you pay attention, are actually quite funny - a scene in which Martin drives Ashlynn Yennie to her supposed interview. As she talks on incessantly about being a germophobe, something that she had to overcome with the first movie she was in, Martin continually coughs and sniffles away, completely ignoring her and entirely focused on the task at hand. There are little bits like this (some rather subtle and some completely lowbrow and obvious) scattered throughout the film that, coupled with the completely over the top nature of the film, which is very open about its complete lack of realism given that it's touted as '100% Medically Inaccurate,' that you can't help but get the joke.
The main attraction in this film, however, isn't the incessant gore or completely insane scenes of degradation but in fact the lead performance from Laurence Harvey. This isn't a role most would take lightly, just based on the fact that it involves some completely unflattering full front nudity and requires so much filthy and abhorrent behavior but Harvey completely throws himself into the character and turns in about as fearless a performance as you can imagine. He's so quirky and screwy looking here that, as horrible as he is, he's also a very sad creature and you can't help but feel sorry for him. On top of that, so many of his victims are set up as awful people before he gets to them that you almost find yourself rooting for him - until you realize what's going on, and then if you're reasonably close to sane, you rethink that stance. Regardless, Harvey is amazing in the part and we're given enough background information on him that we do at least feel for the guy a bit. The same can't be said of any of the victims, however - they're all jerks but not only that they're all also very shallow in terms of characterization (there isn't any). This is the movie's biggest and most obvious flaw as it's hard to get too worked up about characters we do not care about, even if we know they're going to suffer the horrors of the damned before it's all over and done with. There's also the rather massive logic gap that you start to wonder about by the half hour mark, and that's if these people are all going missing, isn't someone going to notice? Not once is there any interference by law enforcement officials of any kind - but then, as stated, the film isn't in the least bit concerned with realism here, that's already been made very clear. The film also could have gone more in-depth about the impact of extreme horror movies on fragile viewers, at you almost think it's going to during the first half hour or so, but no, the movie isn't concerned with that aspect of its concept.
The film's hour and a half running time goes at a good pace, the film rarely feels dragged down. It's also very well shot and the black and white picture is not only well composed in terms of set ups and camera angels but also quite atmospheric. Strong use of sound helps to heighten tension, whether it's Martin remembering the sexual assaults plied on him by his late father as he tries to go to sleep or the sound of his pet centipede attacking its dinner. The aural side of the film is quite well done, and yes, this includes the finale where it all gets incredibly gross.
A quick note about censorship: both the UK and Australian releases of this film on DVD and Blu-ray were cut, as was the American 'On-Demand' release (despite carrying an unrated tag). This Blu-ray appears to be the completely uncut version meaning (minor spoilers!!) the sandpaper is there, the impromptu dental work is there, the tongue removal is intact, there stapling and subsequent ripping of the staples is all there, the car death is uncensored, the barbed wire is there, and the sexual assault is there. The film clocks in at almost ninety one minutes from start to finish.
The Human Centipede II arrives on Blu-ray in a good looking AVC encoded 1.78.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer. Aside from some noticeable aliasing throughout the film, things hold up fairly well here as contrast generally looks solid (important as the film is 99.9% black and white) and black levels stay deep. Detail varies from scene to scene with some shots looking drop dead perfect and others looking a little bit soft but overall, detail is definitely strong even in some scenes where you might not want it to be. There aren't any noticeable compression artifacts nor is there much edge enhancement to complain about and the image is generally crisp, clean and strong throughout.
The only audio option for the movie is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix with optional subtitles provided in Spanish and closed captioning provided in English. There isn't a lot of dialogue in this movie as Martin doesn't really talk but when the supporting cast members do, it comes through clearly enough and without any problems. The levels are well balanced from start to finish and the sound effects are appropriately gross sounding. Some nice rear channel action helps heighten tension in a few scenes and some good directional effects help make things a bit more engrossing than there would be otherwise. As this is a new production, not surprisingly there are no issues with any hiss or distortion to complain about - all in all, the movie sounds very good.
The main extra on the disc is a commentary track with the man behind the madness, director Tom Six. Anyone who seen any interviews with Six knows that he's a fairly chatty guy and has generally got a lot to say about his work, this track being no exception to that. Here he discusses how and why he wanted to push the envelope the way that he did, how he got Laurence Harvey, who joins in on the track, on board to play the lead, how some of the effects work was done and how he got that one returning cast member back to the second film. It's a fairly active and interesting talk, even if it does cover some of the same ground as the other supplements on the disc.
There are also a few featurettes on the disc worth checking out, the first of which is a thirteen minute interview with director Tom Six. Here Six discusses why he shot the film in black and white, the importance of the dark humor in the film, how he had no problem casting this film (which is in direct contrast to the original, which people did not want to be involved in), how he worked a 'tribute' to Schindler's List into the movie, and the very real possibility of the third and final film in the series. A ten minute tour of the set is included, in which we get to see the lighter side of this production, with Laurence Harvey out of character and goofing around with some of his co-stars. This segment also provides a look at how some of the effects work was done, including the use of soother's and prosthetic asses! A third three minute featurette demonstrates how some of the foley sound effects work was done for the film, much of it using some raw meat.
Aside from that, there's a single deleted scene (which is actually pretty funny), a promo spot for the feature, a trailer for the feature, a teaser for the feature, menus and chapter stops. Previews for a few unrelated MPI releases play before the menu loads.
The Human Centipede II isn't a perfect film by any stretch, as we're never allowed to connect with anyone but the antagonist, but all things considered it's quite well made. Laurence Harvey's performance is nothing short of brilliant and the film succeeds in not only pushing the envelope but keeping us guessing as to where it'll go next and just how far it'll take things. MPI's Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good and contains some decent extras as well - while certainly not a film for everyone, for those who appreciated the first film's mix of extreme horror and black humor, it comes recommended, but you have been warned.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.