J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Human Centipede 3: Only the Victims are in Stitches

So much for truth in advertising. Tom Six’s third go-round stitching together poor hapless victims, throat-to-butt, claims to be “100% politically incorrect,” but nothing could be farther from the truth. Take for instance the setting: “George W. Bush Prison” in East Jesus, Texas. Unfortunately for viewers, Six desperately wants to be considered “relevant” as a satirist, but he just isn’t funny. However, what is really unforgivable is the baffling lack of scatological grotesqueness in Six’s Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

The narrative, such as it is, follows screechy prison warden Bill Boss as he sexually harasses his secretary Daisy, bullies his bean-counter Dwight Butler, and wages open warfare against his heavily tattooed gang-member inmates. Boss has embarrassed the politically ambitious Governor Hughes once too often. If he cannot restore order to the prison in one week, Hughes will give him the axe. Fear not, Butler has a perfectly logical solution. Form the inmates into a Human Centipede, just like in Six’s movies. In fact, Six will pop in meta-style, to offer his advice.

Frankly, ‘pede-3 really should have been grosser and gorier, because at least that way it would have been something. Instead, Six tries to make a comedy, but it is deafeningly unfunny. Absolutely nothing lands here. You really have to wonder what was going through Dieter Laser’s head as he raged and mugged as the horrendously loud and annoying Boss. Did he ever ask Six: “Is this funny? Is this really working?” Whatever the director might have said, the answer is a resounding “no.”  As a result, it is truly embarrassing to watch Laser face-plant time after time. Seriously, his bulging eyes and schticky twitching are so over-the-top, it is like he is trying to be Meryl Streep on a bad day.

Honest to goodness, there is only one solitary dry chuckle in the whole film, earned by Clinton Rohner’s understated delivery as the unlicensed prison physician. However, it is still deeply depressing to see the G vs. E star mired in this muck. Sadder still, HC3 probably represents the dumbest, most underwritten film of pornstar Bree Olson’s career. Yet somehow Eric Roberts manages to skate through relatively cleanly as the governor. Say what you will, that man works a lot. If you don’t like him here, wait a few weeks and watch him play the mayor in LA Slasher.

While it was certainly not a masterpiece, the first Human Centipede was an effective mad scientist film in its own defiant way. This film is simply not funny—period, end of story. Nor does it try to fulfill any traditional horror movie functions. There is just a lot of Laser yelling at the camera. It is sort of like watching Gilbert Gottfried playing Richard Nixon in Secret Honor, without any sense of irony. Not recommended for genre fans or even viewers who enjoyed the previous two films, Human Centipede 3 opens this Friday (5/22) in New York, at the IFC Center.

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