When banner ads for the DVD release of director Tom Six's notorious mad science tale The Human Centipede first appeared on several of the movie sites I frequent, I paid them no special mind - outside of idly wondering if I'd ever get around to watching this tale of a sicko surgeon with too much time on his hands (I probably won't). But the more I kept seeing them, with their animated diagram of three people on their hands and knees joined in the manner that the film's title promises with the accompanying text of "3 Humans, 1 Tract," it occurred to me that these ads - in which there's even a helpfully illustrative arrow that enters through the mouth of the first person, and moves all the way out the ass of the last person (see below) - were a hell of a thing to be blasé about. I mean, I know that I'm pretty desensitized but when did so much of the rest of the world go down that path, too?
Years ago, a movie like The Human Centipede would've only been known - and whispered about - by the most hardy and dedicated connoisseurs of the bizarre. Only by patronizing the seediest of theaters or scouting the bootleg tables at conventions would one ever come across the likes of The Human Centipede. This is a film that once would've had to fight to exist and then fight even harder to reach its audience. Now it's a freak show that's as easy to obtain as clicking on an ad. You don't have to actively seek this stuff out anymore, you don't even have to be a knowledgeable movie junkie to be aware of it. Someone going to Shock Till You Drop to check out the latest news on Breaking Dawn can be instantly introduced to The Human Centipede. And if you don't buy it online, you'll see it stocked in plain sight on your next trip to Best Buy, or Target (for more on that, check out this recent post from my fellow Horror Dad, Dennis Cozzalio, over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule).
I grew up during a time when slasher movies were regularly targeted by angry picketers and were the subject of offended screeds by movie critics. Now, apparently, you can make a movie where people have their mouths sewn to other people's asses and it's no big deal. This doesn't outrage me, it just astonishes me.
Once upon a time, The Human Centipede would've been a strictly underground sensation. Now you can get it out of a Redbox at your local supermarket. What used to be only fit to exist on the outer fringes of cult culture is now part of pop culture. I never would've imagined that a movie like this would be made - and so widely available - with barely a peep of controversy but now I have to think we're not too far off from seeing Human Centipede: The TV Series.