'The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)' is the boring one
After two slyly thoughtful movies about human centipedes, a franchise's threequel and closer takes a more cartoonish, and more traditionally transgressive, direction.
‘The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)’
Director: Tom Six
Stars: Dieter Laser, Laurence R. Harvey
2 (out of 5) Globes
Naturally there’s a lot of unpleasantness in the alleged final “Human Centipede.” It’s just that almost none of it involves the vomit-y, titular premise. The third and final entry promises the longest man-’pede yet, but if you’ve seen the poster you’ve already seen it and — provided it’s a thing you definitely want to see in the first place — you’ll have to wait for the final stretch for it crop up at all. Instead this time it’s the people, mostly actor Dieter Laser, who are the real horrorshows. Laser was the mad scientist of the first film, and though he howled and freaked out, he never howled or freaked out as much or at the volume and intensity he does here, which recasts him as a prison warden worse than nearly all of his inmates. In some ways what Laser does here is worse than a line of people connected butt-to-mouth.
The first “Centipede” was a classic-style mad scientist movie that still slyly subverted the genre’s tropes. The second went meta, indulging in all the gross-out imagery elided by the first, and then some. The third one, disappointingly, is meta too, also beginning with someone watching the previous entry then wishing to copy it. This time it’s Laser’s warden and his assistant, played by Laurence R. Harvey, the portly, diminutive anti-hero of the previous installment. They run a prison — George H.W. Bush prison, ho ho — that’s among the worst in the country, overrun with marauding psychopaths of every stripe. They need to get it under control less they’re shut down by the slick governor (Eric Roberts, whose inclusion would be more special if he didn't do about 40 low-budget movies a year), and what better way to create peace, and save on costs, then to sew mouths to As?
But before that there’s The Dieter Laser Show. Rocking a cowboy hat while rattling off all manner of racist, sexist epithets, his antihero engages in more traditional, and therefore more boring, transgressions than the one in the title. He blackmails his secretary into sexual submission and graphically removes a prisoner’s balls, then has them baked. He kills a guy, then has him revived with defibrillators so he can kill him again. (OK, that part’s kind of funny.) He’s prone to screamy, shooty freak-outs reminiscent of Dennis Hopper in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and does strange and, in a way, wonderful things with his elastic tongue. This goes on and on, and on and on and on, so that by the time he’s finally gotten around to ’pede-ing people, it’s kind of a relief — though you still have to sit through a, ahem, “death rape.”
Is the crappiness supposed to be the joke? This third “Human Centipede” is the most self-aware of the series, and not only by having characters cite real-life parodies in porn and on “South Park.” Writer-director Tom Six himself swings by for the climax, acting like a douche and entertaining compliments like, “You’re even more handsome in person.” At time it seems to be a self-critique of its own lameness. In order to increase mechanization the new centipede surgery is a watered-down version of what came before, merely using old-fashioned sewing and nixing the destruction of the kneecaps and teeth. And yet even without such watch-through-the-fingers sights this third entry is still unwatchable, just in a fashion one can get from any grindhouse gore franchise. Only its commitment to comedic hopelessness, complete with a mad final shot, makes it seem more than surgically connected to its other, superior partners.