Saturday, May 23, 2015

Capital Punishment: "Human Centipede III" 100% hateful

The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) (2015)
102 min., not rated (equivalent of an NC-17).

Dutch bad boy Tom Six was on to something with 2010's "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)." Built around one seriously twisted and disgusting conceptone that saw three people surgically connected from ass to mouth to form a single digestive systemthe "100% medically accurate" film dared you to watch and be shocked. It was unbearably tense and deeply frightening because it showed you just enough without feeling gratuitous. His meta, "100% medically inaccurate" 2011 follow-up, "The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)," simply went too far, being repulsive for the sake of being repulsive. That miserable experience was the apotheosis of bad taste and visual cruelty masquerading as extreme filmmaking. In a way, it was singularly horrific that describing it as "vile" or "repellent" would come across as additional compliments, but that would be giving the filmmaker more power and way too much credit. In this third and mercifully final entry, writer-director Six has gotten awfully cynical and self-congratulatory, making "The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)" the death rattle of the most perverse trilogy ever committed to celluloid. It may be "100% politically incorrect," and proud of it, but it's even aggressively, depressingly worse than you'd expect. Who knew it was possible?

Presiding over George H.W. Bush Prison in Texas, lecherous warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) has lost his mind, or maybe he never had it, considering he uses boiling waterboarding as a torture method on a convict. With squat accountant Dwight Butler (Laurence R. Harvey), he comes to a solution to main control of his dangerous inmates: use Tom Six's "The Human Centipede" movies to form the largest chain yet. When Boss and Dwight are paid a visit by Governor Hughes (Eric Roberts) who threatens to shut down the penitentiary if the convicts aren't handled properly, they go through with the sick experiment. For consultation, director Tom Six himself pays Boss and Dwight a visit, stating that he can't wait to prove his naysayers wrong, and then Dr. Jones (Clayton Rohner) finds Six's films medically accurate enough to sew together 500 inmates into the ultimate human centipede. 

If this one-trick-pony series wasn't your cup of tea to begin with, "The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)" definitely isn't going to change your mind. Writer-director Tom Six has, if anything, upped the ante each time, as in he's made his centipede even longer and violated one's peepers. If one just wants to get in, catch a glimpse of the final money shot, and get out, the most morbidly curious viewer or "Human Centipede" completist will have to wait 85 interminable minutes. (In close-up, we even get to see the actual sewing together of one inmate's face to another's buttocks.) Everything about "The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)," though, is a smarmy, bilious geek show. Apparently, the film gets a kick out of the reprehensible warden calling his sexpot secretary Daisy (porn star Bree Olson) by the name "Tits," sniffing her chest, inserting his finger up her short skirt and then wiping his finger over his face. It finds "black humor" in his favorite snack being fried clitorises, one of which is mistaken for a candy by Daisy. You also probably have to share Six's insanely off-putting sense of humor for the following sequences. Bill Boss castrates an inmate (Robert LaSardo), who's held down against the wall, then rubs the blood all over his bald head, and later eats the inmate's cooked testicles on a platter for lunch. Afterwards, Boss has a nightmare that the castrated inmate stabs his kidney and proceeds to rape the wound.

In a case of would-be clever casting, the actors who each played a villain in the first two films are both here but placed in different roles. Dieter Laser created a chilling villain out of Dr. Heiter in the first installment. Here, his racist, sexist, Cuban cigar-chomping Bill Boss is an abrasive cartoon, constantly making whiny outbursts at the top of his lungs. He's clearly barking-mad, but there's nothing to him and no pleasure can be taken in hating him, either. Laurence R. Harvey, with a pencil-thin mustache, was at least creepily committed as the obsessed fan in the second film, but his Dwight is just a toady with only a few less screws loose. As for Eric Roberts, he looks well aware that he has probably seen better days career-wise. Once Six appears as himself, everyone (save for Laser's Boss) fawns over him upon his arrival. At the same time, the orange-suited inmates boo during a screening of both of Six's films, so the filmmaker can come off at once smug and self-deprecating with a slap on the wrist and a pat on the back.

Calculatedly unpleasant and distasteful, juvenile and hateful to the zenith, "The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)" is also obnoxious and worthlessly acted. For an exercise in sadistic exhibitionism, it's even quite boring. It's not fun. It's not scary, although the implication that Six could possibly find his next idea with a "human caterpillar" is plenty frightening for different reasons. It doesn't even make for a biting satire on the dehumanization within the prison system. There's no vessel of so-called humanity to even latch onto or invest in. There's no craft or artistry this time, either. Whereas the first took on an art-house restraint and the second a black-and-white palette that still left nothing to the imagination, this third one is like a grindhouse-style black comedy with low-rent, porn-level production values. At the end of the year, it won't be hard to think of a more morally and socially bankrupt endurance test whose sole reason for existence is to gross you out and repel you. All you have to know is that it's the pits, a piece of crap that plays like a coprophiliac rapist's wet dream and inspires so much vitriol for everyone else. 

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