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“THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 (FINAL SEQUENCE)” (Movie Review)

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At the end of the animated film RATATOUILLE, a food-critic character has the following epiphany: “…the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” I disagree; I’ll bet this review of THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 (FINAL SEQUENCE) will offer more entertainment than sitting through the movie itself.

Was that too meta? You ain’t seen nothing yet. A thoroughly insufferable attempt to take the franchise into more overtly comedic territory, HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 opens with its protagonists watching the end of HUMAN CENTIPEDE II (in which its villain watches the end of the first HUMAN CENTIPEDE), and contains numerous shots of the DVDs of the first two movies. Characters repeatedly discuss the films—some for, some against, as if airing both opinions makes writer/director Tom Six’s incessant self-referentialism OK. To make the auto-glorification complete, Six even shows up to play himself and further call back to the notoriety attending him and his earlier work, while revealing that he has no idea how to effectively comment on or satirize it.

Yet this indulgence nonetheless pales in comparison to the central performance of Dieter Laser, returning from the original CENTIPEDE. Laser still can’t act—he can’t even deliver a line like “Which cocksucker did this?” convincingly—so Six has him compensate by bellowing and screaming much of his dialogue, often in close-up, to increasingly unwatchable effect. It’s not like anyone’s expecting subtlety from a movie like this, but a real director would have modulated Laser to make his outbursts and tantrums a personality trait rather than the sum total of the characterization. As Laser starts with the dial turned up to 11 and never looks back, he and the movie become a true endurance test, and his occasional shouting into a megaphone seems utterly redundant.

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Laser plays William Boss, warden of George H.W. Bush State Prison, those names giving you an idea of the level of imagination at work here. Further evidence: there’s a reference to an inmate named Craig Sinner, and Boss’ subservient right-hand man is named Dwight Butler. He’s played by HUMAN CENTIPEDE II’s Laurence R. Harvey, who elicits the most audience sympathy simply by trying to give a real performance in the face of Laser’s freakshow. Also in the cast, playing the governor who disapproves of Boss’ job performance, is Eric Roberts, looking for all the world like a once-Oscar-nominated actor who can’t believe he’s playing second fiddle to this overindulged hambone.

Then there’s adult-film star Bree Olson as Daisy, Boss’ secretary, which turns out to be a more demeaning role than anything she likely faced in the porno world. As the sole woman in the ensemble, Daisy exists only to be roughly fingered by Boss, forced to go down on him, etc., for those who find sexual harassment and abuse amusing. This is all of a piece with Six’s overall approach, which is predicated on the idea that one need not come up with funny ideas to support calculatedly offensive material, but that the offensiveness in and of itself is funny. (There’s plenty of casually, crudely racist dialogue as well.) Couple that with a complete lack of comic timing and pacing, and the result is something that even the least discriminating Troma fan might find unsophisticated.

You might have noticed that there hasn’t yet been a mention of the human centipede itself, and that’s because it takes Six a long, long time to get to the setpiece that is ostensibly his movie’s raison d’etre. (Boss eventually introduces it with “I’ll show you the result, which is worth more than a thousand words,” a line one wishes Six had taken a cue from.) He attempts to fill in the overlong running time with an explicit castration and other violations—oh yeah, homosexual rape is funny too—which come off as much less transgressive than simply desperate. It’s as if Six realized that just making the centipede bigger doesn’t make it any better, and couldn’t come up with anything else but cheap attempts at provocation.

The final sin of HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 is that it does not provoke, or actually shock, or generate any honest laughs. Instead, it is dull. Deadly dull. Check-your-watch-every-five-minutes dull. And anyone who cares about the independent horror scene will likely be left not only bored by HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3, but angry as well—angry that this narcissistic barrel-bottom-scraper will get many times the attention of any number of good low-budget genre films, made by people with talent and the desire to create cinema about something other than themselves.

In keeping with the meta theme, I’ll close with another quote, from the late, great Roger Ebert’s review of PORKY’S—a movie he didn’t like, but might have gained greater respect for if he’d lived to see this one: “I see that I have neglected to summarize the plot… And I don’t think I will. I don’t feel like writing one more sentence (which is, to be sure, all it would take).”

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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