Tom Six is bubbly and friendly when talking about “The Human Centipede” films. This is perhaps not what you’d expect of someone who’s now made three films about its vomit-y set-up, in which people are surgically connected, butt to mouth. And bubbly and friendly are definitely not qualities seen in the series’ alleged final outing, “The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)” which recasts original star Dieter Laser as a demonic prison warden looking to connect all 500 of his inmates into one massive ’pede. The reviews have been more outraged than with the last two films, though that’s how the Danish director likes it.
You’ve been talking about this all day. What kind of responses have you been getting?
Everything. Part Three is very politically incorrect. A lot of people are very offended by my work. Some people expect more gore, and I’m not out to outdo myself in gore. This time I took another approach, and people are really offended by it, sometimes.
What do people tend to be most upset by?
The racism part, and the swearing words. It’s very funny. I come from Europe, and I’ve been in America, and yesterday I said “s—” on the radio. It was a big thing. S—, it’s poop — it’s a funny word. When I say those things or write them down [back home], it’s very normal for us. But here it’s controversial to say those things.
This film is set and was shot in America. Did you view it as a critique?
Not so much as a critique, because I absolutely love America — the culture, everything. I just wanted to go out with a bang. I wanted to go huge, over-the-top, XXL-style. That was really American. I wanted to shoot it in a big Hollywood way. The only thing is the bad guy wins at the end, which never happens in America. I absolutely love that.
Dieter Laser's character here is a very different character than the mad scientist he plays in the first. He’s a bad guy with absolutely no redeeming values.
I wanted to create along with Dieter a completely opposite character than the first one, who is restrained, very intelligent and knows exactly what he’s saying and doing. This time I wanted to have an absolutely racist asshole. At the same time he’s very impotent, because he’s a sleazeball. We had so much fun creating this character. He’s so loud and he swears all the time. He’s really an asshole.
He’s always so over-the-top. Did you have to rein Laser in at all?
Not at all. He’s so delicate and he knows exactly when he has to stop or go further. I never had to tell him he was doing too much or something. He knows exactly what he’s doing. I enjoy watching him so much. We are a match made in hell.
This third film is more overtly comedic than the others.
I see all my “Human Centipede”s as pitch-black comedies. I don’t really see them as horror films. A lot of people they see the comedy in it. Part Two is the least comical. It’s very dark and miserable. To lighten things up I wanted to go out with a pitch-black comedy, as a contrast to Part Two.
You’ve said you like to read the reviews and comments for these films. Have any of them actually upset you?
I enjoy it. I’m very thick-skinned. I don’t get upset when people put you down. I don’t care. I’m very happy they give a reaction at all. It’s cool to read the bad reviews and the good reviews. It’s all fun for me.
Have you read the more serious [such as this one] or even academic pieces written on the films?
I love that. Some reviews do it in a very intellectual way. There are people in universities who do papers on my films. Really crazy. They see all the layers I put in there, and they take it so seriously. On the other hand some people only see mouth-to-ass. That’s also a way of looking at it. I see the reviews for Part Three slowly coming in, and a lot of critics are very offended by my work, much more than with Part One and Two, even. I have to laugh. Either you love it or absolutely hate it, and there’s nothing in between. I’d be offended if they were indifferent. I’d be disappointed if they said they didn’t care. That would be terrible.
What has been your reaction to some of the more offended charges, such as those calling it racist?
There’s a lot of racism in there, that’s true. But a lot of these guys who are prison wardens are racist assholes. There’s a lot of racism in America still, eh? I put it all under a microscope and I enlarged it. So [Laser’s Bill Boss] is a misogynist, he hates women, he uses and abuses them, and he’s very racist.
The centipede is much, much, much longer than the ones in the first two. How was shooting the actors different this time?
We were shooting in a real prison in the desert, so it was very hot. We had so many people who wanted to be in this, because of the popularity. We had tons of extras wanting to be on their hands and knees. Because of the heat, we had two doctors on set. I felt like a megalomaniac idiot. In Part One I only had to think about three actors. I could talk to them, say, “Are you OK? Do you need a massage?” With the second one, there were 10 actors, so it was hard to give them attention, though it was manageable. This time it was impossible to comfort everybody. We had assistants shouting at them to get on their hands and knees and get it done. I felt like a sadistic slave driver or something.
You make an appearance as a parody of yourself. Were you reluctant to do that?
No, no. At festivals people kept asking, “Why don’t you go in the film?” I don’t take myself very seriously, so I did it. But I had to make an asshole of myself. Then it would be fun. Because I am not an actor. We put other references in there. I’m proud that “South Park” used my idea, so I put it in my film. The same with reviews. When the film is played, Roger Ebert’s commentary is in there, said by a prisoner, who says the film causes harm on the viewer. I love that.
How was directing yourself?
That’s hard. I don’t know how Woody Allen does it, because you have no idea what you’re doing. Ilona, my sister and my companion in the company, I would ask her if I was doing alright, and she’d say yes or no. Very hard.
What’s next for you? Are you actually done with this franchise?
For now I am. I always intended a trilogy. I still want to explore the dark side of humanity. I’m not going to make romantic comedies. I’m going to stick to the dark side, the horror elements, but also with pitch-black comedy in it. I’m working on a film with a hook that is just as original as “The Human Centipede” films. I can’t say it in detail, but I bet “South Park” can easily parody it again. It’s something original and I’m sure the whole world will talk about it again.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge