Monday, 30 November 2015

The Human Centipede III: Final Sequence (2015) - Movie Review

This review is something of a milestone for me, as this is where I officially come full circle. After all, the original Human Centipede was the first film I ever reviewed in any semi-semi-formal capacity. However, over the years, I’ve come to the realisation that my initial hatred for the thing was most likely a result of the reputation it had received. As such, I’ll set the record straight right now.

While I still maintain that the characters in the film were often thicker than a second coat of paint, Dr. Heiter’s performance along with the overall concept were enough to at least make it watchable. Then came the sequel, and it is here that I fear I will lose every one of my readers: The Human Centipede II, despite being a film that I predicted would happen when I first reviewed, is one of the best sequels ever made. Seriously, it does everything that a sequel should do right, with Tom Six looking back on the original idea and basically riffing on his own writing to create what I genuinely consider to be a great film… provided that your stomach can handle the gore, that is.

With this patently absurd opinion of the rest of the series, and my knowledge that Rotten Tomatoes can be incredibly misleading when it comes to what is better than what (Hypocrisy ho!), I’m looking at today’s film with probably the most optimism of any film I’ll look at this year. I think I broke at some point during The Green Inferno, but let’s see if this new perspective does me any favours anyway.

The plot: Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) is the warden of an American prison that, among many others in the nation, is starting to cause concern over growing costs. He wants to enforce mass castration as a deterrent for criminals, but the medical costs as a result of that would only make things worse. However, his accountant Dwight (Lawrence R. Harvey) may have found a solution from a most unlikely source: A duo of exploitation films called The Human Centipede I & II. Despite initial scepticism, Bill agrees to the procedure so that he can prove to Governor Hughes (Eric Roberts) that his methods work. Extremely gory analingus ensues.

The acting definitely feels like Tom Six wanted to go out with a bang on what will be the finale to his memetic trilogy, both in terms of casting and performances. As much as getting Eric Roberts for your movie is hardly an achievement, considering the guy works for pocket lint nowadays, it’s still nice seeing a B movie legend on the big screen again. That, and it’s nice seeing him in a movie that doesn’t feature talking house pets for a change. We also have Bree Olson as the assistant Daisy, continuing the weirdly self-aware sexual nature of the core idea, along with Tom “Debo” Lister Jr. and a few recognisable faces from the last two films as some of the inmates. And speaking of recognisable faces, let’s get to our two mains: Dieter Laser and Laurence R. Harvey. Harvey’s American accent is constantly in flux throughout the film, and he kind of just sits in the corner and plays sexual frustration for the majority of the film.

Laser, on the other hand… I’m almost at a loss for words. It’s as if Tom Six looked at the original film and went "You know what? You didn’t go NEARLY far enough, Dieter. I want to see paint chips stuck in your teeth once shooting is over, goddammit!" As a result, his performance as Bill Boss is just about the most over-the-top performance I have ever seen. Period. Every single word out of his mouth only increases in intensity to create stupefyingly hammy and occasionally incoherent gold. Whether he’s eating fried body parts, getting sodomised in a most uncomfortable place or questioning his life’s ambitions and succumbing to suicidal thoughts, the man gives it his all every time. It looks like his face is about to break in half with how much mugging he does from scene to scene.

The film opens in much the same way that the second film did: Showing the ending of the previous film. Okay, I have no shame in admitting that I liked the metafiction aspect of the second film. Here, it just feels like a needless retread to introduce how the idea of the Human Centipede reached Bill Boss. However, while the film starts on an off note, credit where it’s due in that it continues what seems to be the series tradition of self-examination and improving on the previous film’s formula. Here, we’re shown modifications on the original Centipede to make a more viable means of punishment for inmates, in keeping with the genesis of the idea that was Tom Six joking about how to punish child molesters. It goes through a few bits of medical terminology that I’m not going to insult by stating accuracy and just give credit for even attempting to justify any of it.

We also get a variation on the Centipede that… well, let’s just say that my first impression on Tom Six swiping ideas from the Internet for his movies might be more accurate than I thought. Unfortunately, it seems that all the attention his films have been getting is starting to get to Tom Six’s head. We keep seeing characters say that they love the films, and Six himself shows up at the prison to hear it first-hand as he is brought in as a consultant for the Human Prison Centipede. Hell, we even get Dwight reeling off the parodies that have been made of the concept by name. This self-congratulatory tone starts to grate after a while, which doesn’t help the script’s attempts at making political commentary. Yes, seriously.

From the tag line "100% Politically Incorrect", it should be easy enough to discern that this is going to be taking pot shots whenever it can. I mean, the prison this all takes place in is called the George H. W. Bush Prison, for crying out loud. It goes into matters of how much America’s prison-industrial complex is costing taxpayers and how, by cutting down costs through the HC plan, they can put money back into other areas like hospitals and schools.

Yeah, I wouldn’t put too much stock in any of this though for two key reasons. One, take another look at that plot synopsis: Does that really look like something that’s meant to be taken seriously? And two, the commentary doesn’t even work anyway. Okay, to save myself even more political grandstanding, I’ll put it as simply as I can: The 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits slavery or involuntary servitude except as punishment for crime. As such, the U.S. prison system regularly uses prisoners for legal free labour. It doesn’t really make sense to use the HC method to cut down on costs when the entire prison-industrial system is set up to reduce costs in the first place. If they’re in the position of forever kissing ass until their sentence is finished, something tells me that penal labour isn’t going to happen.

But then again, this is just the garnish on the big putrid steak that is the bulk of the film; this is meant to be watched for the over-the-top performances and the well done gore effects, not for a Dutch man’s perspective on the U.S. penal system. He could’ve at least called it the Ronald W. Reagan Prison, though.

All in all, this is a film about 500 prisoners being sewed to each other ass-to-mouth; for what it is, it is incredibly entertaining. The sun-burnt look of the film helps differentiate it from the rest of the series, Bill Boss is amazingly fun to watch and the writing, while not as politically clever as it thinks it is, manages to further the self-aware streak Tom Six has built for himself. Even if he is starting to get too big for his boots, I still reckon this is worth a watch even beyond just basic curiosity. If you can stomach the main premise of this film, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

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