Human Centipede (First Sequence), The

Gentle readers, let me ask you: “You down with O.P.P.?”

Before you respond, allow me to clarify: I am not quoting the ever-so-catchy Naughty by Nature song from 1991. No, I want to know if you're down with other people's poop. Because, if you're not, Director Tom Six's The Human Centipede may not be for you.

And if you are...dear God, why?

Anyway.

American tourists Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) and Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) are enjoying a vacation in Germany until they get lost in the woods (literally) and seek refuge in the home of Dr. Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser). Dr. Heiter is a world-renowned expert at separating conjoined twins.  However, at some point between his retirement and the beginning of the film, he went irretrievably insane and now is more interested in creating conjoined twins. Thus, it was Dr. Heiter's good fortune that two potential portions for his pet project fell into his lap.

There is no getting around the premise of the film.  As Dr. Heiter explains to the girls and soon-to-be lead portion, Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), in specific detail-he will surgically mutilate and then attach each of them mouth to anus to form one disgusting creature. Why? Because he's crazy!

What's worse is that he actually performs the surgery. That's right, The Human Centipede is not a film that jokes around, or merely hints at what could be. No, the title of the film is The Human Centipede and, by gum, Tom Six gives you a human centipede! But then the story continues for another 45 minutes! Over the course of which the audience learns that, while being part of a human centipede is one of the most disgusting ideas put on film, it is not the worst thing that could happen to you.

One difficulty in watching the picture, other than keeping your last meal down, is that it's difficult for the audience to sympathize with these girls. One does sympathize, of course, because no one should go through even half the things that happen here. However, Six could have tried to make these girls a bit more competent in horror movie survival. Think back to every horror film you've watched. Combine all the of the mistakes characters make, and you've got these two girls. Getting out of the car on a deserted road on a rainy night, wandering in the woods with a flashlight, going back in the house instead of running for help, hiding in a corner, not checking what's in your drink, and-worst of all-not running in the opposite direction when a scary/Germani/Mengele/Christopher Walken opens the door.

Dieter Laser is the real find here. Having the burden of about 60% of the dialogue all by himself (it's hard to talk with a mouthful of...yeah) and competing with one of the more striking visuals in recent horror movie history, Laser commands the audience's attention at all times. He's creepily fascinating and cannot wait to see him in future films.

The Human Centipede is an impressive picture. Aside from some minor pacing issues in the second half and the overall brutally disgusting subject matter. It delivers exactly what it says it will, and is far more interesting that I ever thought it would be. That said, I can't think of a person I'd recommend it to, and would require a signed and notarized consent and waiver before I show it to anyone.

Forbidden Zone

Before his incredible collaborations with Tim Burton, before developing a cult-favorite band new wave band with such hits as Weird Science and Dead Man’s PartyDanny Elfman was part of a musical theater group called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.  I do not have words to explain just how strange they are so here’s a clip from The Gong Show

Danny’s the one wearing a rocket.

After having watched that, it should come as no surprise to you when I say that when these people decided to make a feature length movie, they created one of the most disturbing things ever captured on film.

Forbidden Zone is nominally about the Hercules family after they moved into the former residence of a heroin dealer named Huckleberry P. Jones, which is exactly what I plan to name my first child, regardless of gender.  The basement of the house features a doorway to “The Sixth Dimension,” a land of utter madness.

After having watched this movie several times, I have come to the conclusion that the Sixth Dimension is-in fact-HELL.  Frenchy Hercules (Marie-Pascale Elfman) decides to check out the Sixth Dimension and finds, among other things: King Fausto (Herve Villechaize) , a few torture chambers, a frog person, some concubines, The Princess (who never puts a shirt on), the Kipper Kids, a number of cross-dressers, and Danny Elfman  himself as Satan... doing a Cab Calloway impression.

Still with me?

This movie doesn't have a plot so much as a bunch of connecting segments between musical numbers, which consist of original songs by the Mystic Knights, and older 40's-style recordings to which the cast lip-syncs.  Admittedly, I am a big Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo fan, so I may be biased, but I really love the music in this picture. This was the first film Danny ever scored.

The film’s director, Richard Elfman (Danny’s older brother), made Forbidden Zone with almost no money, and it shows.  He shot the film in black and white not for artistic reasons, but because he couldn't afford color.  The sets, predominantly two-dimensional Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-esque paintings by  Marie.  Most of the cast were not professional actors and yet were encouraged to ham up their performances as much as possible.  Furthermore, at any given moment, the film switches to animation a la “Monty Python.”

These factors contribute to the movie’s overall charm, which it has in loads.  It’s just hard to notice that charm, as the film offends the senses on almost every level. To begin, there are more bodily fluids, nudity, and/or sexual situations here than most porn films. As the director explains on the commentary track, “I love to put people in their underwear. Be they beautiful, young ladies or mature gentlemen playing 12 year old boy scouts.” There are also situations that he claims are not meant to be racist, but come off-well...let's just say the film begins with Huckleberry P. Jones being played by a white man in blackface.  Amusingly, Forbidden Zone has also been criticized for being anti-Semitic, despite the Elfman clan being Jewish.

Forbidden Zone is a semi-animated nightmare that keeps me up at night whenever I watch it.  After just watching it now, I am still flabbergasted. While I can't recommend it highly enough, I can never seem to get anyone to watch it.