The Shocking Tale of The Human Centipede

Cinema has a unique ability to explore the depths of human emotions and experiences, often delving into the darker aspects of human nature. One such film that pushed the boundaries of horror and left an indelible mark on the genre is “The Human Centipede” (First Sequence). Directed by Tom Six and released in 2009, the film shocked audiences with its disturbing premise and unapologetically gruesome visuals.

In this article, we will delve into the controversial world of “The Human Centipede,” exploring its themes, impact, and the ongoing debate surrounding its place in the realm of horror cinema.

The premise and plot

“The Human Centipede” centers around the macabre vision of a mad scientist, Dr. Heiter, portrayed by Dieter Laser. Driven by a twisted desire to create a “Siamese triplet,” Heiter kidnaps three unsuspecting victims, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams), Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), and Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura). He proceeds to surgically join them mouth to anus, creating a grotesque human centipede with a single digestive tract.

The film’s narrative focuses on the captives’ desperate struggle for survival, as they are subjected to physical and psychological torture, forced to adapt to their horrific new reality. Themes of helplessness, degradation, and the loss of identity pervade the story, evoking a visceral reaction from the audience.

“The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence” (2011)

In the sequel, director Tom Six takes a self-aware meta approach, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. The film’s plot follows Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a mentally disturbed and socially withdrawn man who becomes obsessed with the first “Human Centipede” film. Martin becomes fixated on creating his own, larger and more grotesque version of the centipede, disregarding the notion of medical precision.

Working as a parking garage attendant, Martin begins to gather victims by kidnapping them and bringing them to a makeshift warehouse. He captures twelve people, including pregnant women and a man with developmental disabilities, and proceeds to perform crude and sadistic surgeries on them, connecting them mouth to anus to create his nightmarish centipede.

Unlike the first film, “Full Sequence” is presented in black and white, enhancing the grim and disturbing atmosphere. The movie pushes the boundaries even further by explicitly depicting acts of extreme violence and body horror. The sequel is a commentary on the impact of media and desensitization to violence, as well as a reflection on the blurred lines between reality and fictional representation.

“The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence” (2015)

The third installment takes yet another approach by moving away from the intimate horror of the first two films and embracing a more satirical and darkly comedic tone. In this film, the director, Tom Six, makes a cameo as himself, acknowledging the events of the previous movies as fictional. Dieter Laser, who portrayed Dr. Heiter in the first film, returns as a different character named Bill Boss, a ruthless and abusive prison warden.

The plot revolves around Bill Boss and his accountant, Dwight Butler (portrayed by Laurence R. Harvey, who played Martin in the second film). Facing a series of challenges and crises in their prison, including budget cuts and rebellious inmates, the two come up with the idea to create a massive, 500-person human centipede using the inmates as a form of punishment and control.

The film is loaded with over-the-top and absurd moments, leaning into dark humor and political commentary about the American penal system. While it continues the theme of creating human centipedes, it diverges from the tone of the previous films, opting for a more tongue-in-cheek approach.

Controversy and Reception

“The Human Centipede” gained notoriety for its shocking premise and unflinching portrayal of body horror. Critics were divided over its artistic merit and the boundaries it pushed. While some praised its audacity and unsettling atmosphere, others condemned it as gratuitously exploitative and devoid of redeeming qualities.

The film’s controversial nature extended beyond its content. It sparked debates about the ethical responsibilities of filmmakers and the limits of creative expression in the horror genre. Detractors argued that “The Human Centipede” sensationalized cruelty for shock value, while supporters pointed out that horror has a long history of challenging societal norms and provoking uncomfortable discussions.

Impact and Legacy

Despite its divisive reception, “The Human Centipede” left an undeniable impact on horror cinema. It inspired two sequels, “Full Sequence” and “Final Sequence,” each pushing the boundaries further and expanding upon the unsettling world introduced in the first film. The franchise’s endurance suggests an enduring fascination with the darker corners of human imagination.

The film also contributed to the ongoing dialogue surrounding the definition of horror and the boundaries of artistic freedom. It prompted filmmakers, critics, and audiences alike to question whether there are subjects too taboo for exploration and whether the genre’s role is to merely entertain or to challenge societal norms.


“The Human Centipede” is undoubtedly a divisive and unsettling film that has left an indelible mark on the horror genre. By exploring the depths of human depravity, it forces audiences to confront their own discomfort and reactions. Its legacy lies not only in its shocking visuals but in the discussions it has sparked about the role of horror cinema in pushing societal boundaries.

As the film continues to be both celebrated and condemned, it serves as a reminder that horror, at its core, is a genre that elicits strong emotional responses and invites exploration of the darkest aspects of humanity. “The Human Centipede” may be disturbing, but it is an integral part of the broader tapestry of horror cinema, prompting us to question where the line between artistic expression and gratuitous shock lies.

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