Sunday, November 21, 2010

Medical Horror

A thankfully rare type of horror film features sadistic medical professionals who find creative ways to inflict medical atrocities on helpless victims. By medical atrocity I mean something distinct from the gore of torture or just hacking people apart. I refer to the deliberate production of horrific medical circumstances. In real life, consider the experiments conducted by the Nazis such as Josef Mengele. In fiction, we have Mary Shelley's respectable Dr. Frankenstein, or Joseph Green's The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962), which presents the creepy notion of a dismembered head lying in a dish and kept alive by machines. Based on the HP Lovecraft novel, Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator (1985) features a scene where a body starts tending to its own severed head which it carries in one arm. Ingmar Bergman's deeply disturbing Serpent's Egg (1977) provides the psychological equivalent, where a nurse is imprisoned in a room with an infant who (unknown to her) has a fatal brain disorder where it can't stop crying. They time how long she lasts before smothering the baby. The general idea is to break the proper components and boundaries and reassemble them into the horrific.

Birth defects give us nature's example of this nightmare, babies born with their hearts outside their chest, or brains with no protecting skull. If modern medicine cannot fix them, death is an act of mercy. Some fairly disturbing films have addressed the deeply unsettling implications of the perverse connection of Siamese twins, for example, two people with separate mouths sharing the same intestines. The genre I am discussing is the one where an evil villain deliberately produces such situations.

Such content can become some of the most repulsive and disturbing cinema ever produced. Dutch film director Tom Six just couldn't resist sharing his scatological fetish by producing a thoroughly revolting movie, The Human Centipede – The First Sequence. A mad physician surgically attaches three people from mouth to ass. Person one gets to eat food. The second person must eat the excrement of the first person. The third eats the excrement of the second and excretes the results for all three. Lovely.

Normally, Chicago Sun Times film critic Roger Ebert has to assign a star rating to every film he reviews. In this case, he would not assign the film any stars, even zero stars, "I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine."

I once had a horrible nightmare where a summer camp for toddlers, once the parents were gone, forced the young and vulnerable to cut into themselves and artfully expose their internal organs on the surface of their bodies, livers, kidneys, stomachs, inflating and deflating lungs, beating hearts. At the end of the camp, the children displayed their mutilated selves on stage before their parents. One can imagine what the children went through as authority figures told them this was how to please their parents and made them do it. Then consider what the parents experienced when they saw their butchered children on stage, and the cackling of the camp directors as they watched the parents realize what had happened to their children.

That's all I'll say about that (no book or film).

Tom Six, however, has the green light to produce the sequel: The Human Centipede II: The Full Sequence, where 12 people will be surgically connected in the same fashion. Don't watch either picture. This is no courageous artist producing value by exploring a new frontier. These two films are nothing more than the result of a sicko with a thing for making people eat poop.


Blogger The Navigator said...


I had never heard of this film, and frankly, x4mr, I would have been just fine if that had remained the case.

11/21/2010 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading about this film a few months ago in the news. Some people actually liked it.

A sequel?! Holy shit! (ha!)

That is one seriously spooky nightmare, x4mr.

11/21/2010 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

I'm with Nav. Why are you bringing such garbage to our attention?

Also, and seriously, your nightmare is really out there. Really. Forcing little kids to carve into themselves in a way to display organs externally on stage to their parents?

I cannot even begin to imagine the sequence of thought that arrives at conceiving such a scene.

I wonder about you sometimes, x4mr.

11/21/2010 7:54 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

With very few exceptions, my cinema posts are glowing endorsements of terrific work. Occasionally I will post about films that are exceptionally awful in ways I think readers might wish to be informed.

I've known about this film for months and held off. This weekend at zero profit to its maker I was able to check it out and decided to share the info, which of course includes other material as well.

Regarding the nightmare, I hear you, but I was not driving that bus. I was along for the ride, and it is weird to have a dream that you watch like a film but are not included. Be glad such rides don't happen to you.

By the way, I've been on rides a lot worse. I don't talk about the REALLY bad ones. However, here is a taste of one I did share. This one allowed me to have the experience of participating.

11/21/2010 8:30 PM  

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