Thursday, 13 August 2015

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE III (FINAL SEQUENCE)

Directed by Tom Six, Starring: Dieter Laser, Laurence R. Harvey, Bree Olsen, Eric Roberts. Horror, US, 2015, 100mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on 20th July 2015 by Monster Pictures.

Sadistic prison warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) is in danger of being fired by the state Governor (Eric Roberts) on account of his prison having the highest personnel turnover; violence rates; and legal and medical costs - of any other institution in the US correctional system. Boss’ long-suffering accountant and right hand man Dwight (Laurence R. Harvey) however has a cunning plan to help cut costs. Inspired by the first two HUMAN CENTIPEDE films, Dwight proposes to create one giant human centipede of the 500 inmates...

Tom Six’s ‘FINAL SEQUENCE’ in his CENTIPEDE trilogy is a tamer effort in comparison to its slaughterhouse aesthetic monochrome predecessor, but there’s still plenty to offend the average ‘Daily Mail’ reader in this cartoonish satire on US politics. For starters Six loads Bill Boss’ dialogue with a non-stop spewing barrage of sexist, racist, homophobic diatribes. Played with artery bulging ferocity by Dieter Laser (returning from the FIRST SEQUENCE where he played the mad scientist and original creator of the centipede ‘Dr Heiter’), Boss’ rants aren’t mere idle threats either. Amongst his methods of attempting to instil discipline he employs water-boarding - with boiling hot water - on one prisoner whilst castrating another before having his testicles cooked for dinner. (And don’t ask what those African imported ‘sweets’ in that jar on his desk really are either...) 


Then, when he’s not abusing and maiming his inmates, Boss is abusing his secretary ‘Daisy’ (Bree Olsen) for his sexual gratification – in full-view of ineffectual ‘Dwight’ (Lawrence R Harvey - also returning after his brilliant portrayal of obsessive monster ‘Martin’ in FULL SEQUENCE). Dwight is in love with Daisy but he (like the rest of the prison staff) just can’t muster the courage to stand up to his evil tyrant of an employer – even when Daisy’s lying in a coma from being assaulted by an inmate.

Given the steady catalogue of atrocities served up throughout the film, the actual centipede of prisoners is almost an afterthought (it doesn’t actually begin to take shape until two-thirds of the films’ running time has lapsed). In some ways perhaps this reflects the (cult)ural phenomena of the ‘Human Centipede’ itself. The concept has seeped over into the mainstream (e.g. South Park parody) to the point where it’s become a viable Halloween cosplay option (for three close friends or more). This unlikely crossover has inevitably ‘watered down’ the centipede’s impact to shock. Originally conceived by Tom Six as an imaginary punishment for convicted paedophiles – it has, to a lesser extent, mirrored the way in which the original darker origins of ‘Fred Krueger’ were conveniently pushed to one side once wise-cracking punmiester ‘Freddy’ became a merchandising cash-cow for New Line Cinema. Tom Six is, I suspect, smart enough to have seen this coming all along, hence the structure of his FINAL SEQUENCE.

As puerile and ridiculously implausible as the material may be, there’s clearly method in Tom Six’s madness (something which is either consciously overlooked or genuinely missed altogether in amongst the copious amounts of onscreen filth and degradation). To say the trilogy displays self-awareness is an understatement – it’s a positive meta-construct. From the inverse scenario of Lawrence R Harvey’s loner ‘Martin’ being inspired by THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE) in the startlingly bleak brilliance of the sequel, right through to his character in FINAL SEQUENCE making his boss watch both the previous films before inviting the actual director into the prison as a technical adviser on achieving their 500-strong prisoner centipede. (The alternate ending – an extra on the disc – goes even further in completing the self-sustaining regurgitative narrative).

Maybe I should be worried, but despite all I’ve described above, I found THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE III (FINAL SEQUENCE) riotously amusing – albeit in a sick kind of way. Dieter Laser, resembling a 70’s exploitation version of ‘Lord Voldemort’ from HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE, is mesmerisingly over-the-top; whilst Lawrence R. Harvey’s meekly mild moustachioed accountant is a perfect comedic foil for mad bastard Boss (even with Harvey’s hilariously unconvincing American accent).

Tom Six’s CENTIPEDE trilogy is, I very much suspect, a lot like ‘Marmite’: you either love it or you hate it. I HATE ‘Marmite’, but I seem to love the CENTIPEDE trilogy.

Extras: Making of documentary, alternate ending.

**** (out of 5*)                
         
Paul Worts