So, we didn’t like Tom Six’s Human Centipede 2 very much. In fact, you can probably say we hated it. Yet, I can’t help but feel even more fascinated by the sick, demented mind of Tom Six after seeing it. If you feel the same way, then you may very well enjoy this look behind the madness of HC2. After the premiere of Tom Six’s latest film at Fantastic Fest, I got to sit down to talk with the director/writer and the film’s star Laurence Harvey.
Read on to learn about latex assholes, why Tom Six won’t be making a Smurfs film, and the whereabouts of Harvey’s prosthetic barbed-wire penis.
Something has been bothering me since I saw your film: Were those real assholes on screen or were those some sort of store-bought, synthetic assholes?
Six: It’s really thin latex so it looks really real. Though, they were cast from the actors. There is one scene, though, where there is stapling going on — for that brief moment, there are real asses.
So, do you ever tell the visual effects guy, “Hey! That’s not disgusting enough, yet. Let’s get some flesh hanging off it!”
Harvey: [laughs] The DP [Director of Photography] would say, “Let’s get some more shit on there!”
The visual effects in Human Centipede 2 are really realistic. What’s the process like of writing these things out and testing them. How do you find out what works and what doesn’t?
Six: When I write the script, I write everything down as I imagine it. Then we go to the special effects team and they go through the stuff I want. In the first film, you didn’t see much asses because they are covered by bandages. I told the special effects guy [John Schoonraad] that I want to see lots of ass this time! Really, that’s what the audience wants, eh? The guy won an Oscar so he is really good with that. He made terrific work, he casted the asses of the guys and girls in the centipede and put it all together.
He saw the first film, but we didn’t know it. So when we call him up he said, “Oh, I loved part one. I’d love to be a part of that!” It’s cool to cast asses, yeah? It’s something different than normal Hollywood stuff.
Were there any funny events that occurred while you filmed the film’s more gruesome scenes?
Six: There are running jokes on set. People in the human centipede ask each other what they had for dinner, because they are farting and stuff. They are very close to these asses so its very unpleasant. So we have lots of that humor — logically of course — on set. Same thing with the DP spreading an extra bit of shit on an ass. Everyone is really living up to it.
Do you ever have any anxiety thinking about whether there is a crazy fan obsessed with your films out there, like Martin?
Six: That’s why I made the film, of course. The question you ask just now is asked at film festivals I go to all over the world, from Japan to England. Yeah, in the media sometimes a guy commits a murder and they think he is inspired by some film. But, the guy himself is sick and it could be anything that triggers him. Anything! So, I don’t think it’s very realistic that someone would copy the human centipede.
Harvey: Well, more serial killers are inspired by the Bible or Qu’ran than The Human Centipede. So, let’s ban them first and then we can start on horror films. [laughs]
Martin makes some strange sounds throughout the film, such as when he interacts with a child. Did you guys ever have any discussions about how these might be too silly and take away from the horror?
Harvey: No, to me it hits the ground running with the violence in the first scene. I was concerned about getting sympahty for Martin as a character, because if we saw him being picked on first it would make more sense. So, I tried to approach those scene with a more deadpan style of comedy, like Buster Keaton or something.
Because it’s deadpan you can kind of read it two ways. If the camera stays on me too long it becomes disturbing rather than funny. I always knew it would be a thin line I’d be walking with the character, going between funny and disturbing. I think there is a point in the film where you definitely stop laughing and have a very visceral reaction to the film.
After Martin kills his mom, he puts her at the dinner table and eats. It’s one of the most disgusting scenes in the film. I kept looking at her and wondering how the hell you made her look like that.
Six: It’s all prosthetics. It’s all fake. They casted the actress’s head, shoulders and stuff. Then they scooped all the stuff out and made it really realistic. It’s cool, huh? I love it!
Is it sitting somewhere in your garage, now?
Six: Ehh, no. They disasambled it though, I believe. I still have the penis though with the barbed wire.
Harvey: I want that back! Damn you!
This film goes to such an extreme that it’d be hard to imagine you making another in this style. Do you think you’ll be making a 180-degree turn for your next film?
Six: Definitely. Each film is very different. I never try to do the same thing and top myself, because it would be stupid. I try to approach the story from a totally different angle. Some people find the psychological stuff from the first one more disturbing than this, and some others think part two is more disturbing with all the shit flying around. I won’t spoil the next one but it will have the same horror-level as the first two films, of course.
When did you make the decision to shoot the film in black & white?
Six: Part one is clinical-like, with the colors and the way it’s shot. I wanted the sequel to be really dark, filthy and handheld, which really helps develop Martin within the story. It works really well. It gives a very uncomfortable feeling in black and white. I even gave it a little Schindler’s List nod. Where Spielberg used red for the coat, I use brown for diarrhea.
You premiered Human Centipede 2 at the Alamo Drafthouse which, of course, is known for serving food during films —
Harvey: I was astounded. I thought, “Don’t order any food! You don’t know what you are doing!”
Six: I saw a lot of people putting their food away. It’s crazy, yeah. It’s tough to eat through a film like this!
If you had to make a family film or leave the business, which would you choose to do?
Harvey: Well, you have made a family film!
Six: Yeah, it’s a drama about a family! [laughs] No, no. I’d never do that. I only want to make films if I can do my own ideas. That’s where the fun is for me.
So I guess I can save the question about your ideas for a Smurfs movie?
Six: If I can have freedom with The Smurfs, then I would make it!
What do you say to people who say, “I didn’t like the film but it disturbed the hell out of me.” Is the intention just to be disturbed?
Six: But that’s what the fans ask for, yeah? A lot of people said part one was too sissy. “We didn’t see the shit! We didn’t say anything!” So, in the second one I wanted to go full-force. It’s a totally different experience and that’s the thrill of it. You get to go see a film with a totally over-the-top story.