“I only want to create art that is worthwhile.” – Tom Six
The Human Centipede films have become a cultural phenomenon. When everyone from Stephen Colbert to South Park talks about it, you know you’ve made it. While there is a glorious ick factor in the tale of people sewn together face to buttocks, the films also have something to say about the mad scientist and body horror genres, even celebrity culture of cinema.
The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) is finally here. While writer/director Tom Six claimed the previous films were 100% medically accurate, the third film claims to be 100% politically incorrect. The original mad scientist Dieter Laser returns, this time as a prison warden who wants to turn his charges into a human centipede. His right hand man is played by Laurence R. Harvey, the star of Human Centipede II (Full Sequence).
I got to interview the trio in Los Angeles this week, where I explained to Six why I am Franchise Fred. The Human Centipede are an interesting franchise study, since they are all separate stories in which the previous films exist as movies. The Human Centipede III (Full Sequence) is in theaters and VOD May 22.
Nuke the Fridge: Is The Human Centipede franchise made for Franchise Fred?
Tom Six: I think so. These three films needed to be made. It calls for bigger and bigger and bigger, don’t you think?
Nuke: Yes, but I don’t believe this is the final sequence. I think there’s more centipeding to do.
Tom Six: Maybe in 10 years. I have so many other original ideas, we have to make other things. Otherwise it would get boring to make the same thing over and over, but maybe we have aliens connecting the whole human race. Who knows? Space invaders or something, real aliens coming in.
Nuke: Yes, you should make more original movies and start new franchises. Did you always have the continuity of these films in mind, where each one would end with someone watching the previous one?
Tom Six: Yes, in the end, these three films make a movie centipede and they can be connected. The second one starts where the first one ends so it’s literally one four and a half hour movie. They digest each other.
Nuke: I don’t want to be reductive and call it shock value, but I think there is something creative about creating something shocking. These days even Madonna can’t shock her audience anymore, so is it hard to come up with new ways to shock people?
Tom Six: I’m not out there to shock. It just comes from the inside. I just tell my story. My stories are shocking but I’m not behind my computer, “How can I make it worse?” That would be stupid, I think.
Nuke: Does it say something about where society is that this is what people watch to be shocked when people like Madonna have become tame?
Tom Six: Yes, she only needed her tits in a show but now audiences want much more, need much more.
Nuke: She also had the crosses and oral sex, to be fair.
Tom Six: Definitely, definitely. We set a new standard now, the new bar.
Nuke: When you show the closeup of Daisy (Bree Olson) dripping, are you actually spoofing the idea of sexism in movies?
Tom Six: Oh yeah. Daisy plays the only woman in the all male cast of course, so we were looking for the ultimate seductress and we chose an American porn star for the audience. To compensate for the lack of women, we take the ultimate porn woman.
Nuke: But is it saying something about the way the camera views women and people get defensive about shots of women?
Tom Six: Well, the character, Bill Boss, is a misogynist. He hates women but he hates everything. He hates black people, white people, yellow people, women, everybody. He’s the biggest *sshole on the planet, we made him together. So he hates everything and we go with his eyes. So he treats women the way he treats them.
Nuke: It’s his point of view.
Tom Six: It’s his point of view, yeah.
Dieter Laser: No, not at all because if the emotion is there, then your body functions and it’s no stress. If it would hurt my voice, then it would have been a sign that the scene wouldn’t work, but I never ever had any problems with the voice even though I’m investing a lot of energy and power into the part. You know, he’s over the top but it’s not the wish to go over the top. It’s the creation of a creature to fulfill Tom’s vision of a desert animal, of a snake. It’s not normal behavior. It tells a vision of evil. The bald hair, we had a lot of experiments and said, “Let’s do him bald because that makes him a kind of ageless evil. An old baby or something alien is supported by that look.” The alien atmosphere around him is very transportive in the film. I saw it yesterday for the first time. This night when I tried to review my impressions, I saw him dancing above the cast. He’s dancing around like he’s a bad angel fallen from God’s paradise into this world which we see in the news.
Nuke: When you saw Human Centipede II with Laurence R. Harvey, did you feel he was carrying on your legacy?
Dieter Laser: Absolutely. I was smashed by his brilliant performance and I loved the cinematography of that film, the art of Tom. All three films tell the world as a slaughterhouse and the second film shows it. The first thing I said to Tom after I saw that film was, “The world as a slaughterhouse in a nutshell.” In the beautiful black and white, even the rain looks like blood. His performance, he’s another kind of alien with a very strange aura and I say he’s coming out of the underworld and he’s sitting there deep down in that underworld looking through that tiny window which is a second frame in the frame, and I love that shot. There’s one moment when Laurence takes a sniff of his inhaler, I had the impression the world stands still and there’s no atmosphere anymore. There’s no sound or nothing. That was, for me, smashing. I was very astonished when we went out of the cinema. I said, “I love that guy. This strange alien guy, I love him.” Laurence made me understand him because when we see his mother, and Dr. Freud and all that stuff, as well a comedy because the citations of Freud, I loved it.
Nuke: Laurence, we were you glad to have more dialogue in this movie?
Laurence R. Harvey: [Laughs] It was more to learn, I guess. I did some dialogue in Part II. Remember Martin’s dream sequence.
Nuke: Of course, and Human Centipede II was your feature film debut. Have you gotten a lot more movie work since then?
Laurence R. Harvey: Yes, I’ve done nine feature films since then, everything from a documentary about performance artists through to some comedy. I just wrapped Frankenstein Crazy Bikers last week. I’ve got four films at Cannes this week including Human Centipede III.
Nuke: Thank you for staying in the States to be with me. What do you play in Frankenstein Crazy Bikers?
Laurence R. Harvey: I’ve got to apologize to Dieter. I do an appalling Austrian accent. I play a scientist who’s working for another scientist in order to steal his ideas. But it’s a very grindhouse film. Maybe it’s the last independent film shot in 35mm. It’s by a group of people in Atlanta who did Dear God No! It’s kind of a sequel to that. It should be a lot of fun.
Nuke: So you decided to make part III a prison movie. Did Shawshank Redemption need more centipeding?
Tom Six: Which is a great film I think, but this is my Shawshank Redemption, absolutely.
Nuke: Now that there have been two movies before, when you’re casting people to be in the middle of the centipede, is it easy to find actors?
Tom Six: Yeah, it was hell casting for the first film if you can imaging. People are going to be on their hands and knees? But because of the big success all over the world, people wanted to be in The Human Centipede so badly, they came in on their hands and knees and they grabbed an ass. It was very easy. Now in part three, the Americans loved it. We get so many requests.
Nuke: Are the fried clitorises that the Bill Boss eats a real thing from Africa?
Tom Six: Yes. That’s findable on Wikipedia. Those tribe leaders eat them because they circumcise the women and they keep the clitorises, and they chew on them for strength.
Nuke: Was the original idea of the Human Centipede to punish child molesters like you say in the film?
Tom Six: Yes, yes. So this time I bring back the original idea as punishment.
Nuke: Did you pay yourself royalties for the clips of the first two films?
Tom Six: We own all the movies so no, not really.
Nuke: What are the original ideas we’re going to see next?
Tom Six: We’re working on a lot of projects, still in the writing stages, but I want to explore the dark sides of humanity and combine them with pitch black comedy, not typical horror films. So I can’t reveal the ideas yet but they’re very powerful stuff again.
Nuke: So you’re still fascinated with dark themes?
Tom Six: Absolutely, not romantic comedies for me. There are so many things out there already. I only want to create art that is worthwhile. I’m on this planet to make things that only I could have made. If I make another teenage comedy or something, every director can make that.
Nuke: Dieter, when people recognize you, is it mostly from Human Centipede now?
Tom Six: Yeah, absolutely. I had quite a good reputation and have, strong reputation in Germany, in the German speaking countries around Germany, Switzerland and Austria. But a little bit due to Lexx series one, but in fact due to Centipede I I got larger recognition in the world even. Sometimes I meet people at the airport from Taiwan or Austria or Israel, wherever they are from and they recognize me immediately.