Welcome to the America of The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence): One nation under God, indivisible, populated by an endless line of wretched souls stitched together ass-to-mouth.
The shock horror threequel from Dutch filmmaker Tom Six finally completes the grand ambition borne in 2009’s The Human Centipede (First Sequence), Six’s “100 percent medically accurate” provocation about a German mad scientist (Dieter Laser) who sews his human victims end to end to create one repulsive beast connected by the same digestive tract.
That polarizing horror-thriller earned notoriety from nauseated critics, even if these movies pretty much defy criticism. Meanwhile, the shrewd Six proved the showbiz adage that even bad buzz is good buzz: He earned himself cult shockteur status by reveling in the headlines and swiftly promised not one, but two even more controversial sequels.
Six next wrote and directed a grimy UK-set sequel about a mentally-disabled Human Centipede fan (Laurence Harvey) who staples together his own grotesque assembly of copycat victims in homage to the first film. Six packed The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) with so much skin-crawling gore that at least one audience member fainted at its world premiere—in the seat right next to me.
Now Six has completed his trilogy with The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence), a third installment that, most shockingly of all, is much more political satire than torture porn. Set in a Midwest prison (named with zero subtlety after George H.W. Bush) and shot with the artificial staging of a midcentury melodrama, it centers on an egomaniacal warden with a novel idea inspired by The Human Centipede films.
Guzzling up the spotlight in nearly every scene is Dieter Laser, who plays the gun-toting, Stetson wearing, sadistic warden William “Bill” Boss with an overindulgent swagger, barely containing his thick German accent (not that it matters) as he drops N-bombs left and right.
Boss personifies the ultimate evil American bureaucrat, and Six’s script ham-fistedly crams in an unsubtle commentary on the dehumanizing state of the prison system.
There are nods to Guantanamo, and a waterboarding scene involving scalding hot water. “More than four in 10 offenders nationwide return to prison within three years of their release,” declares prison accountant Dwight Butler (Harvey, making a mustachioed departure from his turn in the second film), before suggesting the ultimate solution to prison overcrowding, rampant violence, and medical costs.
Desperate to please the state governor who’s about to pull the plug on his operation (Eric Roberts, in his latest B-movie role), Boss solves all of his problems by ordering a team of unlicensed surgeons to sew 500 of his unruly inmates together into one massive “Human Caterpillar.”
At the head of this prison centipede is onetime WWF wrestler Tommy “Tiny” Lister, the imposing actor best known as Deebo from Friday and The President of the Galaxy in The Fifth Element. Sentenced to a fate even worse than dating Charlie Sheen is former porn star Bree Olsen, who plays Boss’s indentured sex slave/office secretary, Daisy.
In a film that’s bound to get excoriated for its treatment of women, the film’s lone female character suffers more indignities than anyone else, including the guy who gets to gleefully rape another man in the kidney and gets his testicles sliced off and served on a silver platter, medium rare—and that’s even before she ends up on all fours, daisy-chained between two inmates.
As for the movie’s most offensive line, it’s a toss-up between “Thank God for Africa—thank God for female circumcision” and “Beaten up women make me so horny.” Boss also spells out his equal opportunity method of “rehabilitation”: “It's not halal, it’s not kosher. A Jew behind a Muslim, a Muslim behind a Jew, a Republican behind a Mexican, a Crip behind a Blood—peace on earth and goodwill to men.”
But in truth, no group escapes the punishing abuse of Boss’s all-encompassing misogyny, misanthropy, racism, homophobia, and general hatefulness. Not the audience, subjected to 103 minutes of The Dieter Laser Show, a mesmeric and exhausting tour de force of dialogue growling, scenery-chewing bombast. If The Human Centipede was Laser at his most chilling and restrained, The Human Centipede 3 is his Penitentiary as adapted for the screen by Tennessee Williams.
Even Tom Six gets the laser treatment—when he shows up onscreen for an extended cameo as himself, naturally. “He’s still in his potty stage, a poop-infatuated toddler,” Boss snarls in a meta-moment that shows the winking Six knows exactly what kind of movie he’s made.
Six greedily saves the film’s best line for himself: “Oh man, I’m so excited to see a real mouth-to-ass operation.”