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Film / The Human Centipede

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Just reading about The Human Centipede could make you wish you hadn't. Those of a sensitive disposition should stop now before it's too late. We mean it; the "centipede" here doesn't just refer to a human with too many limbs. You have been warned.
Gives the phrase "eat shit and die" (and the term "ass to mouth") a whole new meaning.

"Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine."

Still with us? Well, don't say we didn't warn you.

In 2010's The Human Centipede: First Sequence (directed by Tom Six), a couple of young American tourists, Lindsay and Jenny, find themselves traveling through Germany when they get a flat tire. They stop for help at the house of Dr. Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser), a surgeon who specializes in separating conjoined twins — and someone with a vision. We'll let you get a cold drink and a comfy seat before we share his vision with you. If you like to drink alcohol, make your drink a stiff one. We'll also let you bring in the Brain Bleach; pictures of cats and dogs are preferred.







Here we go.

Heiter dreams of taking separate individuals and stitching them together to create a "human centipede" that shares a single digestive tract. Take a minute to let that sink in if you need to. For the sanity of our readers, we will not describe how he plans to accomplish his goal here, but to bottom line it, Lindsay, Jenny, and a Japanese Tourist named Katsuro have just become his first test subjects.

Billed as "100% medically accurate," The Human Centipede gained plenty of early attention from horror fans and sites due to its depraved premise. (Riding on a wave of graphic European horror films helped the film, too.) The film often receives a mixed reaction from horror fans who can stomach watching it; some believe it went to amazing lengths with its premise, while others feel it relied too heavily on Body Horror at the expense of shocking and disgusting viewers.

The film found enough success at festivals around the world to warrant a sequel, 2011's The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). Filmed and set in England (where the ratings board banned the uncut version until the filmmakers cut almost three minutes of footage), the film centers around a Psychopathic Manchild named Martin who becomes obsessed enough with the first film to try imitating it; however, his centipede is longer than three people. Six himself says the sequel makes the original look like My Little Pony; judging by people's reactions to the finished product, the sentiment comes off as legit. While the filmmakers billed the first film as "100% medically accurate", Six described the sequel as "100% medically inaccurate".

Six completed a third installment, Final Sequence, that was released in 2015 with the tagline "100% politically incorrect". Despite reports of a falling out between Six and actor Laser, both Laser and Harvey return, but as different characters. It's set in a prison where Eric Roberts, of all people, plays the prison governor.

The films somehow spawned a light-hearted porn parody, The Human Sexipede, and inspired the Season 15 premiere of South Park ("HUMANCENTiPAD"). Someone also got the bright idea to make a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation in Human Centipede: The Musical, and in 2023 Tom Cardy's "Red Flags (feat. Montaigne)" (with the titular red flag being the date's interest in the film) went viral on Tiktok.

Tropes within:

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  • Artistic License Biology: A human centipede in reality would be highly delicate and would break apart the moment it was put into effect:
    • With the exception of the third film, breaking free of the centipede would be as simple as simply pulling away; staples (medical or otherwise) are not very strong and simply coughing would be enough to loosen the. Bandages and duct tape would only offer slight amounts of protection against this.
    • Having an airtight seal on your mouth would most likely suffocate you the moment you woke up (having your mouth stapled to someone's ass will bring anyone to nose blocking levels of tears).
    • Eating shit will make 99% of people vomit instantly; breathing in vomit by accident would lead to a quick death.
    • Being hit in the head with a crowbar hard enough to cause the level of bleeding seen is usually instant death; all of the people who Martin collects for his centipede are knocked unconscious this way not once but TWICE!, although this is exclusive to the 2nd film of which the tagline is "100 percent medically inaccurate".
  • Flesh Golem: Technically, since the titular human centipedes are constructed by sewing people together ass-to-mouth.
  • Knee Capping: The victims of the centipede are all crippled this way, so they can't stand up and are forced to crawl.
  • Meta Sequel: Instead of trying to tell a continuing story, each sequel posits that the preceding film(s) were fictional but have inspired someone to try replicating them.
  • Serial Escalation: First Sequence has three people sewn together ass to mouth; Full Sequence has twelve people! Final Sequence has five. Hundred. People!
  • Show Within a Show: The first film is a film within the second film. The first and second films are films within the third film.
  • Tag Line: Which doubles as a Running Gag:
    • First Sequence is "100% Medically Accurate".
    • Full Sequence is "100% Medically Inaccurate".
    • Final Sequence is "100% Politically Incorrect".
  • The Worm That Walks: Inverted, with the titular "human centipede" being a large insectoid creature made up of three people stitched together (and more in the sequels).

    First Sequence 
  • Body Horror: Heiter goes into graphic detail on what the procedure involves. The cheeks (of the mouth) are cut and grafted onto the cheeks (the other kind) of the person in front of them in such a way that the mouth is enclosed around it and that the person can't even breathe through it, and can't move their jaw without ripping the flesh. Some of the front teeth are also removed so as to facilitate the flow of feces between segments, as are the kneecaps so as to prevent each segment from standing up. Probably the only horror film where you don't even need to see it to be horrified.
  • Dangerous Key Fumble: Lindsay deliberately drops the keys (for some reason) after locking herself in the doctor's bedroom. She then realizes what a dumb idea this was, when the doctor then appears at the window with a tranquilizer rifle.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Katsuro finally crosses his after failing an escape attempt and being overcome with guilt, slitting his throat with a shard of glass.
    • Jenny's hysteria over her ordeal climaxes right before the operation as she's being sedated, with her devolving into terrified sobs and pleading for her mother. Once the operation is complete she is noticeably subdued in contrast to Lindsay and remains consigned to her fate up until her death.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: An insane German scientist wishes to try a potentially-deadly and Body Horror-ridden experiment on live, human subjects. Whose first name is Josef. It doesn't help that his last name sounds almost like that other Josef's boss.
  • Exact Words: The "100% Medically Accurate" tagline turns out to be completely true; the centipede segments immediately start dying of sepsis right after the operation.
  • Fan Disservice: Lindsay is seen topless, but only after becoming part of the human centipede.
  • Hope Spot: Lindsay's escape attempt. The film goes as far as to literally have her standing in front of the open window contemplating running out before she makes the foolish decision to go back for Jenny.
  • Idiot Ball: Passed around many times, by both good and evil characters. Some examples:
    • Linsday, after freeing herself, dragging Jenny out of the house at a snail's pace instead of running to get help.
    • Katsuro not killing Heiter when he was down and had the chance.
    • Heiter flipping out about the police's accusations, taunting them about not having a search warrant, then jokes about having a torture den in his basement. The writer clearly left no room for guessing as to what was going to happen next.
  • In the Back: How Josef snags his first victim via rifle on the side of the road, only to discard them later.
  • Left Hanging: Considering that there should have been some police backup the very same day (since two cops didn't report back from Creepy Guy's home), it's odd that there's no mention of Lindsay's fate.
  • Minimalist Cast: The film primarily focuses on four characters: The Mad Scientist Heiter who creates the centipede, and the three victims (two of which are unable to talk throughout a large portion of the film due to being a part of said creation.) Towards the end, there are two additional characters in the form of the two cops who come to Heiter's house, and there are two more minor characters in the form of the truck driver in the beginning and the pervert in the car who Jenny and Lindsay try to get help from. If you want to really stretch the definition of "character" there's also the person on the other side of the phone in the hotel scene.
  • Monster Misogyny: While one of the victims is a man, it's the women who get the worst of it and relegated to the worse parts of the "centipede".
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Heiter is strongly implied to be getting off when Lindsay, as the middle segment of the centipede, is "fed" by Katsuro.
  • No Love for the Wicked: Subverted with Josef. While he's misanthropic to the point of being uninterested in conventional sexual activity, it's strongly implied that he derives sadistic sexual pleasure from mutilating his victims and forcing them into coprophagy.
  • Nothing Personal: Heiter tells the truck driver "Don't take it personally" before killing him for "not matching".
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: It is set in Germany, so lots of German is heard. One of the prisoners only speaks his native Japanese. And everytime it's not translated.
  • Plot Hole: How did Heiter get the centipede out of the basement/OR if all he has is a spiral staircase? This becomes quite an issue when the centipede attempts to escape.
  • Shown Their Work: The director brought in a surgeon to consult him on how a "human centipede" would function in real life (hence the "100% medically accurate" disclaimer), including suggesting that it would be able to survive for years with an IV drip to provide fluids and nutrients. This trope may also explain why the centipede doesn't last long — almost immediately, Jenny starts dying from blood poisoning.
  • Sinister Nudity: Soon after sewing three victims together into the titular "centipede", the Mad Doctor Heiter goes Skinny Dipping in front of them. It's a sign that he no longer sees them as people, but as his pet. (No, not pets.)
  • Title Drop: Heiter says the name of the movie at the end of his explanation of the surgery he gives to the centipede components, including the "first sequence" part (which in-universe would refer to this being the first human centipede he's created.)
  • Title 1: The Human Centipede: First Sequence
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Jenny and Lindsay, rather than staying on the road like any rational human being, decide to walk into the woods (at night) in the middle of nowhere Germany.
    • In his review, Brad Jones points out that given how Obviously Evil Heiter was, it was incredibly stupid of the women to accept drinks from an open container from him.
    • Or just driving on the flat tire since the car still ran. If they were smart, they would have paid for the insurance; so they could total it if they had to.
  • Villain Protagonist: Heiter, a crazy, Nazi-esque Mad Scientist.

    Full Sequence 
  • All Just a Dream: The ending seems to imply that Martin simply daydreamed it all... Except the baby is still crying in the car all alone.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: A twisted example, of course, But when one of his numerous victims happens to be a mother, and her son starts crying because of the violent crimes committing outside, Instead of harming the kid at all, Martin proceeds to pick up the baby and starts making noises and rocking it to calm it down, And when he goes into a violent rampage later on, He hesitates when he sees the child still sitting in his car seat.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Dr. Sebring theorizes that Martin's obsession with centipedes is because they are a violent phallic symbol and that he associates them with being sexually abused by his father.
  • As Himself: Ashlynn Yennie, who played Jenny in First Sequence, appears as herself.
  • Asshole Victim: A good portion of Martin's victims are people who have wronged him somehow: his mother, his psychiatrist, the rude couple at the beginning, the skinhead upstairs neighbor, etc.
  • Body Horror: Even worse than the previous film. Instead of actual medical instruments, things like staple guns and duct tape are used to graft each victim to the next. As if that wasn't bad enough, the villain forming the centipede ends up ripping out a girl's tongue to cease their screaming, and also ends up raping the person at the end with his genitals covered in barbed wire.
  • Creepy Centipedes: The one case where the trope is literal, as Martin has an actual pet centipede, which is even used for painful poisoning.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The director felt it was scarier in monochrome. However, a full-colour version of the film exists.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Dr. Sebring. He is seen getting oral pleasure from a sex worker, and he also wants to rape Martin.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Martin, especially in the scene with the rude boyfriend at the beginning and later on with his mother and their skinhead neighbor.
    • Then there's Yennie, who, in a fit of adrenaline-induced rage, grabs the funnel Martin used to force-feed her earlier, shoves it into his ass, before grabbing his pet centipede and inserting it into the funnel.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A twisted version. Despite his obvious insanity and cruelty, Martin doesn't actually intend to kill his victims. When he does do it, or thinks he does, he becomes very upset, tries desperately to revive them and actually cries when he fails (or thinks he did, in the case of the pregnant person). Whether this is because, in his own twisted way, he feels bad for killing them, or is just upset they can't be used in his "centipede" is open to interpretation.
  • Fan Disservice: Martin strips all of his victims naked, including some fairly attractive men and women, though the setting and the context is utterly unsexy.
  • Jack the Ripoff: Martin's obsession with the first film inspires him to create his own Human Centipede.
  • Laxative Prank: Done to horrifying and nauseating effect, when Martin injects each of his victims with a laxative syringe, forcing each of them to have explosive bowel evacuations into the mouth of the unlucky person behind them.
  • Lip Losses: Happens to the man in the middle of the centipede when he finally breaks away, disfiguring himself in the process. In the uncut version, there's a shot of him with staples still sticking out of his mouth.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Sebring, Martin's psychiatrist, has a bit of this going on himself, considering he has sex with sex workers, and wants to rape Martin, his mentally disabled patient.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Martin became sexually obsessed with the original film and resolved to create a Human Centipede of his own.
  • No Social Skills: Exaggerated by the mentally-handicapped Martin, who has poor hygiene, problems making eye contact, and is apparently nonverbal.
  • Pedal-to-the-Metal Shot: Has one when a pregnant person manages to escape from the centipede and is trying to get away from Martin, this film's protagonist/antagonist. In the car, they give birth... and in their desperation to escape, stomps on the pedal, which in this case also meant stomping on their newborn.
  • Self-Deprecation: Whereas the first film is tag lined as "100% medically accurate", promotional material for this film flaunts it as "100% medically inaccurate."
  • Sequel Escalation: If the first film was too much to stomach, do not watch the second film. Not only are the means of assembling much more rudimentary and unprofessional, but there are more people involved. Additionally, the villain does some horrific things to his victims for basically no reason. In the words of the director, it makes the original look like My Little Pony.
  • Silence is Golden: Martin never speaks any actual words, and, in the second half of the film, dialogue is replaced by the victims' cries and moans.
  • Silent Protagonist: Martin never says a word onscreen. He is intimated to have talked and makes phone calls offscreen (we only see him checking his messages on his phone), so he can speak, but aside from some grunts and various other noises, he otherwise is completely silent.
  • Splash of Color: During the Laxative Prank scene, the poop is visibly brown in an otherwise grayscale movie.
  • Spree Killer: Martin is technically this as the events of the film only take place in about 2 to 3 days, he ends up killing 14 people (including 2 people that were not part of the centipede).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • One of the "parts" of the centipede breaks free instantly the moment Martin leaves the room by simply pulling away, albeit not without doing serious damage to his face.
    • One victim dies due to Martin's lack of medical knowledge (died from having a large knife shoved in his buttocks).
  • Tongue Trauma: Martin rips out Ashlynn's tongue with pliers after he gets annoyed with her screaming.
  • Villain Protagonist: Martin, a mentally challenged pervert who is inspired by the original film to commit truly horrific crimes.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: To some extent, Martin is this. He was sexually abused by his father, who went to prison because of it. And his equally horrible mother actually blames Martin for her husband's arrest and treats him like garbage. His psychiatrist Dr. Sebring pretends to be sympathetic but actually wants to sexually take advantage of him. And most people's first reaction to him, even when he hasn't done anything, is to insult and belittle him. While there is no excuse for the actions Martin takes, it's nonetheless easy to see how all of this can combine to finally make Martin snap and lose himself in grotesque fantasy, and want to enact that fantasy on the people who've wronged him. By the time he actually sets to work, he's so deeply involved in his mania he also targets innocents.

    Final Sequence 
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version's theme song is "Krazy" by Raychell feat. RICKY & RABBIE.
  • Ascended Meme: Deiter Laser's character again screams "swallow it, bitch!" though this time he's ordering Daisy (Bree Olson) to swallow his semen.
  • As Himself: Director Tom Six plays himself.
  • Asshole Victim: The victims are all convicted criminals.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Deranged prison warden Bill Boss not only succeeds in making over 500 convicts into a human centipede, but he also convinces Governor Hughes that making prison inmates into a human centipede is "what America needs".
  • Black Comedy: Unlike those two predecessors, this movie cranks all the adult materials up to eleven to the point of borderline amusing at times.
  • Body Horror: Toned down from the second film somewhat (though still worse than the original), simply stitching them from ass to mouth without grafting their skin to each other or removing their teeth and kneecaps. After all, prisoners have a finite sentence, and they eventually have to leave prison without disfigurement. The exception is for death row inmates and those serving life sentences, who get turned into a "Human Caterpillar" — not only are they given the full surgery described above, but they also have their arms and legs removed. Unrelated to the centipede are the imported dried clitorises.
  • Brand X: Bill Boss drinks Cirrhosis brand whiskey.
  • Butt-Monkey: Daisy. She's regularly sexually harassed and forced to fellate Bill Boss in exchange for getting her father out of prison. During the riot, Boss instantly locks her out of his office, and she is brutally beaten into a coma by the inmates. While unconscious, Boss rapes her and then has her integrated into the centipede for no apparent reason.
  • Crapsack World: It's a world where Bill Boss commits all sorts of atrocities and keeps his job. And even worse, the state government eventually supported his idea of putting all prisoners in a centipede, no matter the crime, and seemingly would be up for employing it in other prisons.
  • Creator Cameo: Tom Six, as a central member of the cast.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dwight, who suggests the idea for the centipede in the first place, still objects to Boss's various additions such as removing the limbs of death row prisoners to form a "Human Caterpillar" and including an innocent Daisy in the centipede.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Bill Boss is such a caricature of a villain that Dieter Laser throws any restraint out.
  • Genre Shift: This installment is a Torture Porn/Black Comedy, unlike the first two, which were just Torture Porn.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Boss eats dried clitorises and medium rare testicles.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: There's one insane inmate who eats his own feces and actually wants to be part of the Centipede.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Dieter Laser's hold on his good ol' boy speech is tenuous at best, and his German accent reasserts itself anytime Bill starts yelling (in other words, almost constantly). Averted with Laurence R. Harvey, whose polite southern genteelness stays pretty consistent.
  • Postmodernism: Has elements of this, what with how extremely self-referential it is.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The third film is Lighter and Softer compared to the previous films. Not only are the victims unsympathetic prison inmates, there are way too many of them in the centipede to possibly take seriously, and the violence shown is so outrageously over the top that it becomes a farce. The actual surgical procedure is much closer to the original than the first sequel, as it is again performed by medical professionals. Furthermore, there's much more emphasis on Black Comedy then the previous films. Also, casting a prominent porn star in a main role and having "The Star Spangled Banner" playing over the end credits also tend to distract from any attempt at seriousness.
  • Self-Deprecation: A lot of the references to the first two films have this air about them, and the very first line of the film is Bill Boss saying: "I fucking told you these movies would be shit and they are pure shit, literally. They stink."
  • Self-Parody: The film takes the concept from the first two completely over the top, and mixes in an assortment of meta-jokes and memes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are outright verbal references to the South Park episode "HUMANCENTiPAD" and the porn parody The Human Sexipede.
    • The inmate played by Akihiro Kitamura (who played Katsuro in the original) says that the film "occupies a world where the stars don't shine", a quote from Roger Ebert's scathing review of First Sequence.
    • This statement from Prisoner 297 to Boss: "When I get loose, I'm gonna find some barb wire and I'm gonna fuck you in the ass with it." It's almost precisely what Martin does to the rear victim of the centipede in Full Sequence.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: There's one mentally unstable inmate who eats his own feces and wants to become part of the Centipede. Bill shoots him, as being part of the Centipede is meant to be a punishment, not something to be enjoyed.
  • Villain Protagonist: Bill Boss, a bigoted (in virtually every way possible) prison warden who is inspired by the Human Centipede films to make all of his prisoners into a gigantic human centipede made of about 500 people.
  • Wardens Are Evil: Bill Boss. An unusual example in that he is also pathetic and the inmates do not fear him, despite his violent sociopathy.

Alternative Title(s): The Human Centipede II Full Sequence, The Human Centipede 3 Final Sequence