These days, as I approach middle-age (or maybe I'm already there) my appetite for the extreme isn't what it used to be. The idea of watching The Human Centipede feels like committing to a burdensome chore rather than welcoming the opportunity to enjoy some potentially taboo-smashing entertainment and I have to wonder why that is. Why am I watching Stuart Gordon's Dolls (1987) for the umpteenth time when The Human Centipede is readily available? Maybe it's just that given the limited time I have to watch films on my own - when my wife and son are otherwise occupied - I don't want to waste time watching something I feel I'm not likely to enjoy. After all, life is too short.
When I was a teenager, the appeal of extreme horror lay - at least partly - in that there was some bragging rights to be found in watching films that were past the comfort zone of my family, friends or classmates. On an adolescent level, it seemed cool to be hip to films that grossed other people out. Some of these films were well-made in their own right but more often they weren't and the only point in watching them was to be able to say that I did and hope that someone would be impressed. As a teen, unless you're lucky enough to be well-adjusted and happy with yourself, I think you're always doing things to push people away but at the same time trying very hard to make them notice you.
If I were fifteen again, I know I'd be chomping at the bit to see The Human Centipede but I'm pretty far from fifteen. I feel like The Human Centipede is a movie that unless you feel as if you're getting away with something you shouldn't be by watching it or reveling in exposing some unwitting soul to it (or both), it just isn't much fun. Adding to my reluctance is that I've heard from a number of people that the movie, ultimately, is much tamer than one would expect. If I'm going to take the time to watch a movie where someone has their mouth sewn to someone else's ass, it better be the absolute last word on the subject. I don't want to watch The Human Centipede and then find out that a more extreme version of it was made six months later in Korea or something.
I might watch The Human Centipede eventually if the time presents itself and I'm in the right mood (what mood that would be, I don't know) but I have a feeling I won't. Had the distributor offered a kitschy VHS release like was recently offered for Ti West's House of the Devil (2009), however, that shit might've been enough to sucker me in. Selecting The Human Centipede on my VOD menu just doesn't feel right. It's too banal. To my mind, The Human Centipede is a movie that needs to be found in a mom and pop video store in an oversized box with a garish illustrated cover. You know, something along these lines:
Even on VHS and with appropriately sick cover art, I still might have never watched The Human Centipede but hey, at least I would've felt pretty cool about loaning it out.