When you hear the words ‘human centipede’, what images come to mind?
Probably nothing to do with the kidnapping of three foreigners and sewing them up together from mouth to anus… Like it or not that’s the meaning it’s now been given by shock horror director Tom Six.
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) , a medically accurate, yet incredibly unusual biological horror sees two American girls on a road trip to Germany, who after being kidnapped, soon become the victims of a doctor's sick and twisted mind, finding themselves forming bonds they could have never imagined. And yes – that’s where the mouth to ass sewing comes in.
Disturbed? You should be.
And so how on earth did writer/director Tom Six come up with an idea like this? Total Film had the privilege of finding out…
You said the original idea came from this flippant phrase you used to use…
I always make this joke about someone annoying or irritating, that they should stitch the mouth to the ass! And a lot of people think ‘what a horrible joke’ - and it is horrible! And I think that’s a good idea for a horror film – so then you of course start to think how you get two people behind each other? There has to be three or something to start with, and then you get a chain and it will evolve into a centipede kind of thing, and then you get the title The Human Centipede . So then I came up with the German Doctor, little influences of course from Dr Josef Mengele who worked with Siamese twins, and I think that’s a great line to let him perform the surgery!
Next: Investing in the project [page-break]
Was it tough to get people to invest in such a crazy project?
Really. Yeah. Horror films are profitable so we went to investors and I lied a little bit, I told them that it’s about people who have been stitched together like connected Siamese twins - and they liked it – the idea.
You didn’t tell them specifically how they were stitched?
No I never told them the answer! So they’d seen it when I did the screening and they were really impressed by it, but I’m sure if I told them before when I asked – ‘oh that’s sick! Nobody wants to invest in money in something like this!’
Next: Audiences [page-break]
You've mentioned previously that you think of this as a very international film...
Dutch people are quite reserved, I think it’s just my imagination that isn’t, but I think the international part is the, the horrible factor from mouth to ass - will translate all over the world because every culture – every human being will think it’s horrible! Everybody will think ‘Woah! What the hell is this?!’
What reaction are you hoping for from the audience?
I think a good horror film should shock people – should be controversial – people have to become angry – or feel something.
Next: Medically accurate? [page-break]
You consulted with a Dutch surgeon - was he somebody you knew previously?
Yeah, I went to him with the idea and he was like, ‘Whoa, what a horrible idea!’ because in the medical profession it’s not done to create something that’s not helping people! But he’s also fascinated with horror films and science fiction so he said ‘hey lets stick together and see how we can get this medically accurate!’
And what about the filming process – was it hard to find people who’d actually do that?
It was so hard. We went casting in New York so we saw a lot of actresses and a lot of whom were really shocked by the ideas and walked out - they became angry… but then other actresses who thought ‘hey this can become interesting’ – explaining that it wasn’t vulgar and all very appropriate and stuff – because you have to be naked as well but you don’t see the sexual element. So I convinced good actresses to audition more and then I created the centipede chain – and then they all want to play!
Next: Technicalities of acting [page-break]
And logistically with the girls, did they have to spend all day in that (
) position? Because presumably they’re made up with prosthetics?
Exactly. The first quarter they’re normal of course – it’s shot in order – and then slowly they have to become the centipede which is very hard for them – we had a massage person on set because they got very stiff – but I definitely wanted very fit and healthy young people who are physically strong. But it was hard – they were struggling – that’s why they looked so serious faced!
What was the longest amount of time the girls had to spend attached? Could they separate between scenes?
You take a scene, and it takes 10 minutes and then yeah the special effects would unloose them, separate them for a while, and we change camera position – but on the set each day, it must have been more than 5 hours.
Next: The hardest part [page-break]
What was the hardest part of the shoot for you, or the worst day?
Let me see, what was the worst day… I know! The moment when they walk up the stairs, and it is very hard for them to walk on the stairs so they really had physical pain – but they didn’t want to quit, they wanted to – so they’re actually like walking on the stairs and that’s like really like… hurting your actors but they’re so brave they wanted to do it – so that was a horrible day yeah.
And of course when you were shooting the scene where the guy was having a s**t what did you say to the girl that was the middle segment? Because obviously she doesn’t have very much room for expression…
Yeah it’s very strange to say to an actor what will happen now – so you know you talk to her and she’s such a professional actress that you just can’t imagine that this would happen to you - would happen! And she did well!
Next: Backlash? [page-break]
This is your world premiere, and the reaction seems to have been great. But this is a pretty hardcore horror fan base – are you worried about how the film will fare with mainstream audiences?
I think what you see can also be handled by lesser horror fans – we did test screenings and invited people who didn’t see much horror films and they also liked it because they were shocked – they liked the dramatic line in it – they just might interpret it differently with the thing with the girls.
I don’t know if you’ve been reading about the backlash to Lars Von Trier’s movie Antichrist? There’s all these people writing about it who are saying it’s disgusting, it’s outrageous, why wasn’t it banned? Yours is a very different kind of film but I wondered if you were worrying?
No not really concerned – I like the fact that it’s controversial so the moment you start writing it you know people will talk about it and that’s what I like the most, but it’s not a gross film, it’s really an emotional ride.
Next: The sequel [page-break]
You mentioned briefly in your Q&A the sequel – what can you tell me about it?
Now we’re working on The Human Centipede (The Full Sequence) , and in this part I really hold back – you feel that the outburst has to come and in part two I do a guy who’s even sicker than Dieter Laser’s – creates a centipede full sequence – not just half – with twelve people or something – and that’s going to be a really hard core session of stuff – so really everything I’ve held back I’m going to completely give.
So more gore, and still funny? Because I thought this had a lot of humour to it.
Yeah. black humour – the dark irony humour, under the surface – I love that. Some people laugh about it, some people find it horrible, but it’s the same line between people. One laughs about it and the other one thinks it’s gross
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