After riling the censors and turning stomachs with his first two Human Centipede films, Dutch Writer/Director Tom Six returns with a crud and gut soaked final entry: The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence).
HeyUGuys linked with the enfant terrible to discuss his latest production while dissecting the franchise and exploring his views on modern, mainstream horror.
Six also unveiled what he learned from his experience working as one of the pioneer directors on Big Brother along with his ferocious tendency to stun and disgust.
Yes, my original idea started as a joke about punishing child molesters but where Part 1 was more of a horror film using innocent victims to be my human centipede, this time I came back to the joke/ punishment idea and wanted to present it within the American prison system. This made sense to me because if you introduced the human centipede as punishment in prisons, crime rates would drop like pants in a whore house.
Did you do much research into American prisons?
Definitely, I read a lot. I did some research on Guantanamo Bay: the orange overalls and the tortures they inflict. This is how most Europeans view the American prison system which is very harsh and much more punishable than European prisons.
How about medical research? I know you conducted a lot for the first film but was there any more involved this time around?
I spoke to the same Doctor and he made a detailed operation report. He said he could actually make a human centipede in his hospital if he wanted. It was so detailed. But there wasn’t as much medical research because I knew how it all worked from previous films: if the shit is not attacked by outside bacteria and goes directly from one digestive track to the other, it is not harmful.
How challenged do you feel in terms of how far you are expected to push the envelope in terms of shocking audiences?
The strange thing is, when I sit down to write my scripts, I never think that I want it to be shocking or I want the audiences to react a certain way, it’s just the way I am. For me, it’s all comedy. It’s fun and because it’s all fake, it’s all latex special make up and we have such a good time making it. But I know when you put it on the screen, something happens and people get offended but for me, it’s all comedy. Sometimes I find it very strange when people get so upset.
Part 3 was funnier and lighter than the others but there were a lot of politically incorrect characters which made it shocking in a different way.
All the films are reactions to the previous entry. After I made the first film, a lot of people said to me “What if some maniac out there copies your idea?” and it was interesting because I was using that concept as a basis for the story in Part 2. After Part 2 people were saying: “We want a bigger human centipede, it has to be huge and we want helicopters and machine guns.” And so I made part 3 totally grotesque, huge, larger than life and at the same time like a parody of the series. But not everybody sees that. It gets taken out of context.
For me, in Part 3 the characters seemed uglier than the visuals.
I wanted to have completely opposite characters in this one. In Part 1, Dr Heiter was very meticulous and reserved but this time I wanted a guy that screams. Someone who is such a vile asshole and with Lawrence R Harvey’s character it’s the same. In Part 2 Lawrence played a mute, a mentally retarded guy and in Part 3 he is a smart book keeper who knows everything about numbers. So I play with those elements and laugh when I read about people getting so annoyed.
Did you have any trouble with the censors this time?
This time, it was remarkable, because they were under such a lot of pressure and everybody was looking at them going “what are you going to do with The Human Centipede 3?” But because this film has not quite as much gore in it but is shocking on a political level, surprisingly they passed it without any cuts. I am very pleased with that because people can see my film as I intended but it makes me wonder why they took on Part 2 so harshly. Maybe they watched Part 3 through their fingers.
Do you think a lot of the controversy surrounding your work is generated from the media coverage that shapes peoples view of the film instead of the film itself?
Yes that is true.
The lead actress Bree Olson is a porn star. Did you look within the porn industry for actors because they are more open to roles of this nature?
The casting for Part 1 was pure hell. It was hard to find actors to be attached to an asshole. We did the casting in New York and 70% of the girls walked away and called me a pervert. I was almost afraid they would call the police because you would hear police sirens all the time in New York. But when the film became popular I had so many requests from people wanting to be a part of the human centipede. It was like the Romero zombie films, everyone wanted to be a zombie. I received thousands of letters from people saying “please can I be in a human centipede?” so the casting for Part 2 was very easy and the casting for part 3 was easy too because we had so many requests. This time we even managed to get Eric Roberts to appear (as Governor Hughes).
Do you have any favourite actors you would like to work with?
Most of the actors I absolutely love are dead and that is really sad. I would love to have worked with Klaus Kinski because he was a real maniac. Also a lot of the great horror icons who are now dead, Bela Lugosi etc. I would love to work with Nicholas Cage because I love his older work. Everything he does now is appalling but maybe I could get him back into the Wild At Heart mode. I like to work with crazy actors who have balls, like Chloe Sevigny.
How did you find playing yourself in The Human Centipede 3?
Well I am not an actor at all, I just made an ass out of myself. It was fun to do but I have no aspirations.
Considering the nature of the films, is it important to keep the mood light on set?
Absolutely but so many people know about the human centipede and recognise the comedy in it and celebrities in Hollywood want to be in it too. It’s really strange.
You have taken the horror genre to fascinating new places, can you see yourself exploring other genres in a similar manner?
I think I have created a different genre because my films aren’t so easy to categorise but they are not straight horrors. A horror film to me is a guy with a chainsaw running around after girls or monsters and ghosts. These films are different and I think all my work after this, regardless of what genre I work in, will have strange elements. At the moment my films are a balance between horror and dark comedy. There are a lot of overlaps but they will always have a message. That message may be something that people will either get offended by or absolutely love but there is rarely a middle ground.
You’re planning a psychological thriller next: The Obania Club?
Yes. I cannot describe exactly what it’s about because it’s so simple again but very original. South Park could easily parody it like they did with The Human Centipede. It’s going to be psychological, with a lot of dark comedy and something completely new that people have never seen before. I am also 100% certain that people will get upset again. But that’s not intentional it’s just the way I write.
Your first film (Gay In Amsterdam) was considered controversial at the time because it was the first film to explore the Dutch gay scene.
Yes, I am the opposite of gay but one of my best friends is gay and I wondered what type of film I could make in Holland that would appeal to foreign audiences. Also, at that time, Amsterdam had the biggest gay scene in Europe so I made a film about two gay guys with quite a controversial storyline. I never go for boring stuff.
Where do you think it comes from: your desire to shock and create shocking imagery? Did you see something your childhood that inspired you or left a mark?
I think I’m a victim of a happy childhood. Everything was too sweet and I couldn’t handle it. I’m this guy who’s a prankster. I like to pull jokes on friends just to see their reactions. I had that when I was a little kid and somehow I cannot stop that.
Are you definitely moving on from The Human Centipede or do you think there’s a chance you could be coaxed back for a fourth entry if the right idea arises?
For now it is definitely over. I just wanted to make a trilogy. But The Human Caterpillar is in the back of my head. So maybe one day in a couple of years, I will do something with The Human Caterpillar.
How would you feel about another director taking over the franchise?
I think it’s way too soon but I’m sure in ten years or so Hollywood will intervene. Right now they would consider it still too controversial but one day there will be a reboot, like with all the Halloween and Nightmare On Elm Street films. This would be fine by me but it will be very different to my work.
What are you views on the present state of mainstream horror and the tendency to remake genre classics?
It’s very sad because those are made for the masses and they don’t want to do anything different. It’s just a mass product and I don’t like that. I like film auteurs, film-makers who write the scripts and who produce and direct themselves. All those other films are formulaic and are very boring because they try to please too many people.
The Human Centipede is a meta-horror as it continuously self references. What do you think of this as a direction for the genre to take?
The fun thing about movies is that it is all make believe and fantasy and you can take your story in any direction and imagine anything you want. So yes I really like those meta ideas when they work. For The Human Centipede, it really helps the story and takes it to interesting places but our concept is so strong anyway I think people will always want to know more about it. A lot of horror films are very well made but they lack a hook, something for people to talk about but that’s not in our case.
I read that you are planning some Human Centipede merchandise. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
Yes I am working with a company on that. We are going to do action figures and other stuff, it’s very funny. I am curious to see what they would look like. There are so many people asking me about it all the time. In the end we had so many requests, I just thought why not. It’s a little bit commercial but I like the thought of it and because there are so many people out there who want to see them. I would like to give them those figurines.
I’m very intrigued to see what they would look like. You started out in television working on Big Brother many years ago. Did you learn anything from that experience to take you into films?
Yes I was one of the pioneer directors on that show. It was also interesting to see people for twenty four hours in the bathroom and the toilet, you see everything. And I’m a bit of a voyeur anyway so you can imagine, I’ve seen a lot. And I think human beings are born bad but it is society that keeps them ok and good. If a war breaks out, everybody goes bad again. They become traitors and everything. What I learned, and could see, from the Big Brother house, is that, everybody is bad. When people forgot about the cameras they started acting very egotistical. So that is something I already knew but it was a kind of confirmation for me.
Do you think there is a tendency in mainstream film-making to sugar coat humanity to a degree and present either good characters and bad characters with not much middle ground?
Absolutely. I don’t understand why the bad guy never wins. In my films the bad guy always wins because in real life the bad guy, most of the time, wins. The good guy never wins. So why in films does the good guy always win? That is strange. I love films with an open ending where there is something that is not quite resolved because then your mind continues to think about it and it dwells in the subconscious. When you end a story with just a good guy winning you just forget about it.
The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) is released on 10th July.