A swat at The Human Centipede — and Ken Hanke

I feel Ken Hanke has failed his readers and, to some degree, humanity in even reviewing The Human Centipede earlier this month. This arbitrarily disturbing piece of celluloid tripe deserves no comment (yes, I'm aware of the irony as I'm writing about it now), let alone three stars.

This film should never have been conceived, written, financed or screened. Does anyone in the film industry “just say no” anymore? The Human Centipede makes Salo look like Citizen Kane.

If you're going to give the credence of a printed review to writer/director Tom Six's pointless scatological offering, you might as well seriously critique snuff films, kiddie porn and “Two Girls, One Cup.” If there is any redeeming quality of Centipede, it is only that it can be used as a metaphor for the level of humanity required to put forth the money and effort to have this movie made, viewed (and reviewed).

Yes, Ken: In this metaphor, you're the tail of the centipede.

— Norman Plombe
Asheville

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64 thoughts on “A swat at The Human Centipede — and Ken Hanke

  1. Justin Souther

    The Human Centipede makes Salo look like Citizen Kane.

    This had better end up somewhere on the DVD case.

  2. I know Ken has often grumbled about the rating system, and now I finally see why. I think if Norman had read the review then he would have definitely known what he was getting himself into.

    And to be honest, the premise of the film is more disturbing than the film itself.

  3. Ken Hanke

    My primary question is whether or not the writer has actually seen the film in question.

    I will, however, note that if I didn’t review movies with no redeeming quality a lot of movies would go unreviewed.

  4. Justin Souther

    I will, however, note that if I didn’t review movies with no redeeming quality a lot of movies would go unreviewed.

    And you’d make me review them.

  5. Ken Hanke

    And you’d make me review them.

    The thing worth doing is worth forcing somebody else to do it.

  6. Barry Summers

    I’m with Shad – I didn’t hear about this movie before, but now thanks to Norm, I may go see it.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I’m with Shad – I didn’t hear about this movie before, but now thanks to Norm, I may go see it.

    Well, you’ll have to rent it (not sure it’s out yet) or get it through video on demand from the Independent Film Channel, because it’s long gone from local screens. (It only lasted a weekend.)

    I’ll second what Marc (Orbit) said — the idea of it is far more disturbing than the movie itself, which is an uneven mix of gross, so-bad-it’s-funny and slightly boring.

  8. bobaloo

    Does anyone in the film industry “just say no” anymore?

    Considering the financing of films like Marmaduke, Grown Ups, Knight and Day, Valentine’s Day, The Prince of Persia, The Last Airbender, etc etc, ad nauseum, I’m gonna say no.

    It’s fairly obvious that the writer hasn’t seen this film, let alone Two Girls One Cup.

  9. It’s fairly obvious that the writer hasn’t seen this film, let alone Two Girls One Cup.

    Like I’ve said before, we stock much much worse.

  10. It’s fairly obvious that the writer hasn’t seen this film, let alone Two Girls One Cup.

    Like I’ve said before, we stock much much worse.

    The film comes out on dvd October 6th.

  11. Barry Summers

    Gross. I didn’t even know that whole realm had a name: Coprophagia.

    Orbit – where is that section in the store? Next to Comedy? Action? Health?

  12. Ken Hanke

    And we know whose fault that is, don’t we, Ken?

    I feel certain that it’s mine in some obscure way.

  13. Justin Souther

    Well, this has sure gone to hell.

    It hasn’t gone completely to hell until we start discussing Mr. Hands.

  14. Barry Summers

    It hasn’t gone completely to hell until we start discussing Mr. Hands.

    Well, OK – he & Sluggo were pretty mean to Mr. Bill. But I don’t think he was really that awful, compared to…

    Oh, different Mr. Hands? What? Sure, OK, I’ll look at these photos… OH MY GOD!!!!

  15. Ken Hanke

    Oh, different Mr. Hands? What? Sure, OK, I’ll look at these photos… OH MY GOD!!!!

    Y’know, it doesn’t bother me at all that I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  16. Barry Summers

    Y’know, it doesn’t bother me at all that I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Ask your monkey.

  17. Orbit – where is that section in the store? Next to Comedy? Action? Health?

    Most are in cult, or Criterion.

  18. Ken Hanke

    Ask your monkey

    Well, I have heard that everybody’s got something to hide except me and my monkey.

  19. Barry Summers

    Well, I have heard that everybody’s got something to hide except me and my monkey.

    A line from a song about heroin! There it is folks, the Trifecta: Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll. Who says MtnX isn’t hip?

  20. Barry Summers

    Seriously though, that Mr. Hands was one messed up dude. The only grim humor I take from his story is that as he lay dying after the incident with the horse, he was more worried about his security clearance with Boeing than going to the emergency room to deal with his perforated colon…

  21. Ken Hanke

    Seriously though, that Mr. Hands was one messed up dude

    I doubt anyone but possibly Catherine the Great would argue that. (Yes, of course, I looked him up.)

  22. normanplombe

    you guys are right–i have proudly NOT seen the film (outside of the trailer), and i would fain not even know of it. it IS the premise that i have a problem with. i’m no prude, i assure you…i’m just not going to join the group that supports this disturbingly insipid, horridly trivial garbage…”I don’t know any lepers either, but I’m not gonna run out and join one of their f**kin’ clubs!”

  23. Ken Hanke

    i’m just not going to join the group that supports this disturbingly insipid, horridly trivial garbage…

    If indeed it is trivial — and I wouldn’t argue that point — why make such a big issue of it? Actually, all you’ve done is draw attention to the movie’s existence and made at least a few people curious about seeing it.

  24. normanplombe

    thanks for the reply, but c’mon, mr. Hanke, i already acknowledged the irony of same….so i’m giving myself a pass on this obvious inconsistency….to tell you the truth, i’m sensitive to this stuff intruding on my thoughts. i wish i were blissfully ignorant of this movie…but i’m not, and i blame you (for the review–i’ve never heard of this movie anywhere else). it’s like the stupid killer condom from ‘seven’…why would anyone think of that…then act on it in an ‘artistic’ manifestation??? piss christ has been done…let’s endeavor to be a little more cerebral in our creative shockingness, shall we?

  25. Barry Summers

    i’m just not going to join the group that supports this disturbingly insipid, horridly trivial garbage…

    How do you mean “support”? As Ken pointed out, you have probably caused more ‘support’ for the film by writing an “ew gross” letter in the paper. And I’m not referring to just us few online hecklers – there are probably anywhere from a dozen up to a couple hundred people who have read the paper version and are now thinking about watching this film.

    I won’t go out of my way to see it – it seems more laughable than outrageous or controversial, but I would pause at slamming it is as simple garbage. If you can escape the gross-out/horror/scatological aspects of the premise, the notion of combining human beings into one “centipede-like” creature raises questions about our identities, and our place in the world. Are we only sentient, free-thinking individuals, or can we also be imagined as building blocks of a larger entity, which in an abstract sense, we kind of are. The insanity of the premise could possibly lead us to some interesting questions, which is what art is supposed to do.

    I don’t know if the filmmaker had any deep, philosophical questions in mind, nor am I saying that these are earth-shattering issues we should all ponder, take seriously, or support financially. But a knee-jerk dismissal of art that bubbles up from someone’s dark creative center, that doesn’t always serve us well either.

  26. normanplombe

    please, barry, this guya ain’t exactly kafka!…and what’s with the clock on these postings? is that gmt or something??

  27. Barry Summers

    One pre-emptory word about elitist artist-types who are out of touch with standards of decency, etc. Students of the ‘elite’ art school I once attended, The Art Institute of Chicago, burned Henri Matisse and a number of his paintings in effigy in 1913, for “crimes against humanity”, and other outrages of indecency. Here is the painting that enraged them most. Enjoy:

    http://www.net-provence.com/artistes/matisse/nu-bleu.jpg

  28. normanplombe

    there’s no way you are going to make an intelligent argument comparing these two compositions… (actually i’m kindof seeing your point, but i won’t EVER admit it)…i’ve read articles about how six came up with this idea…as a cruel and unusual punishment for child predators…doesn’t support your argument for some deeper meaning in this instance….

  29. i’m no prude, i assure you…

    Ah the many times I’ve heard this…

    I can assure you that no one in the audience stumbled upon this film blindly. Everyone knew what they were getting themselves into.

    It’s rare to see a film like this in the theaters anymore. Cinema went as far as it can go in the 70s, and has been slowly retreating ever since.

  30. Ken Hanke

    i blame you (for the review—i’ve never heard of this movie anywhere else).

    Talk about shooting the messenger! We review every movie that plays here theatrically — that’s kind of the point — and believe me we don’t have anything to do with what plays here in 99.99% of the cases. Not reporting on it and not viewing it and not reviewing it is simply not an option. If it was, I’d never have seen Marmaduke.

    it’s like the stupid killer condom from ‘seven’…why would anyone think of that…then act on it in an ‘artistic’ manifestation???

    Actually, that’s kind of stolen from another movie.

    i’ve read articles about how six came up with this idea…as a cruel and unusual punishment for child predators…

    Then you may have learned about the movie from me, but you obviously went on a search for more information, because that didn’t come from me. In fact, it’s the first I’ve heard it. Also, I’m not buying it. The film is pure exploitation designed to shock and provoke…well, exactly the kind of reaction you’re giving it.

  31. Barry Summers

    there’s no way you are going to make an intelligent argument comparing these two compositions…

    I’m not comparing the compositions, I’m comparing the reactions. You claimed that Ken failed humanity in reviewing this film. Less than 100 years ago, serious artists literally burned Matisse in effigy on the steps of the Art Institute for his “crimes against humanity”. Those “crimes”: a series of paintings that now sell for tens of millions of dollars.

    Who are you to say that years from now, the type of shock cinema represented by The Human Centipede won’t be recognized as serious “art”, or least having some redeemable social content? Personally I doubt it, but just try to take the long view when looking at something that shocks you.

    (actually i’m kindof seeing your point, but i won’t EVER admit it)…

    AHA!

  32. normanplombe

    awright, we’re getting to the crux of the issue…if i were to, say, throw elephant dung on a statue of the madonna (or better yet, the pretentious ex pop star ‘madonna’)….and then present it as art, there would definately be prima facia shock ‘value’ to it…and worst of all, i could count on some population of pseudointellectual $%^&*!s interpolating that shock value back to some HUGELY significant artistic inspiration…nope…gotcha! i just like throwing poo (and honestly, what primate doesn’t?)….but while i’m at it, can i hypothetically throw elephant dung on lady gaga too? i mean breasts are for nurturing, not supporting automatic weapons….ooooh wait, that’s a juxtapostioning of seemingly unrelated powerful icons…. maybe she IS a a deep and serious artist! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! she’s a vapid void vacancy!…but not a empty as those who’ve made her a millionaire!

  33. Barry Summers

    if i were to, say, throw elephant dung on a statue of the madonna (or better yet, the pretentious ex pop star ‘madonna’)….and then present it as art…

    Along with trying not to overreact to art designed to provoke you, try not to buy into and/or spread falsehoods about said provocative art. The ‘elephant dung thrown at a portrait of the Virgin Mary’ story is a good case in point –

    Nigerian artist Chris Ofili didn’t ‘throw poop at the Virgin Mary’, he carefully incorporated dried, resin-coated elephant dung onto his painting of a black Madonna, as part of a critique of an African immigrant artist’s experience growing up in England. He, like Andres Serrano (Piss Christ) was a practicing Roman Catholic, making a comment about how his art, his culture, and his religion collide.

    We may not like the message they are making, but let’s try not to distort or in this case, falsify what these artists actually did.

  34. Ken Hanke

    if i were to, say, throw elephant dung on a statue of the madonna (or better yet, the pretentious ex pop star ‘madonna’)….and then present it as art, there would definately be prima facia shock ‘value’ to it…and worst of all, i could count on some population of pseudointellectual $%^&*!s interpolating that shock value back to some HUGELY significant artistic inspiration…nope…gotcha!

    Why so much anger and hostility? Do things like this really bother you to this degree? At worst, they strike me as merely silly and hardly worth a rant.

  35. Ken Hanke

    Lair of the White Worm?

    Actually, I was thinking of the dildo in Crimes of Passion, but we’re obviously on the same wavelength here.

  36. Barry Summers

    Actually, I was thinking of the dildo in Crimes of Passion, but we’re obviously on the same wavelength here.

    Can we agree to never speak of that again?

  37. normanplombe

    barry, there’s just no need to disparage poor anthony perkins….he’s not around to defend himself….and (wait for it)….DONE!

  38. Ken Hanke

    Can we agree to never speak of that again?

    I have trouble never speaking of things related to Ken Russell movies.

    And, Norman, thank you for your PM. For some reason the reply function on my PM page seems to have vanished, hence my thanks from here. (That’s also why I didn’t reply to you last week, Barry.)

  39. Barry Summers

    barry, there’s just no need to disparage poor anthony perkins…

    I don’t get it – I didn’t say anything about Anthony Perkins. Are you alluding to his performance in the film “Crimes of Passion”, as “Reverend” Peter Shayne, who alternately spends his time delivering soapbox sermons on the street, visiting peep shows while sniffing amyl nitrite, and patronizing prostitutes? Now that was art!!!

    For some reason the reply function on my PM page seems to have vanished, hence my thanks from here. (That’s also why I didn’t reply to you last week, Barry.)

    Just so we’re clear that it had nothing to do with dildos, right?…

  40. Barry Summers

    Wait a minute, normanplombe – just a couple of quick questions, if you don’t mind. That name – is it some sort of variant of “nom de plume”? Do you have little jiggly plastic eyes? Is there a hand up your woohoo? Aha…

    I believe that you’re a puppet, sir!!!

  41. entopticon

    For some reason this makes me think of a line from Requiem for a Dream.

  42. Barry Summers

    Okay, I’ll bite. Several possible quotes from Requiem for a Dream:

    “There’s my three meals, Mr. Smartypants.”

    “In the end it’s all nice.”

    “Be excited, be, be excited.”

    “Juice by Harry, juice by Harry, ohhhh Harry’s got juice, Harry’s got juice ohhhhhh Harry.”

    “S***, this muthaf***a’s startin’ to look a little seedy, man.”

    “Better get him over to the hospital. I don’t expect him to live out the week.”

    or was it this one:

    Uncle Hank: “Ass to ass”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180093/quotes

  43. Ken Hanke

    I like it when things take a deeply intellectual turn around here.

  44. Barry Summers

    It was the “Uncle Hank” quote.

    I was pulling for, “There’s my three meals, Mr. Smartypants”, but OK.

    I like it when things take a deeply intellectual turn around here.

    Have you read any of this thread?

  45. Ken Hanke

    Have you read any of this thread?

    No. I merely took it in by osmosis.

  46. normanplombe

    dammit, i only thought i was done with this….gotta admit for some reason i thought of the ‘ass to ass’ line and scene too (even before entopticon mentioned same)…now that was similarly disturbing, but as part of a relevant cautionary tale, i don’t see it as gratuitous, and it’s not like it was anywhere near the basis for the whole film….still i wish i could clear it from my memory as well…ugh…

  47. Ken Hanke

    Gross.

    The alternative was to claim mystical divination, but osmosis seemed more in keeping with the thread.

  48. Ken Hanke

    but as part of a relevant cautionary tale

    Well, The Human Centipede might be said to be a cautionary tale about how unwise it is to get lost on lonely country roads while attempting to go clubbing in Germany. I’m not saying it is, mind you, but it could be.

  49. normanplombe

    …or a warning to avoid standard teutonic sexual proclivities…learned that the hard way in old muenchen!!!

  50. Barry Summers

    …osmosis seemed more in keeping with the thread.

    That’s why it’s gross. I’m picturing a new movie script (plagiarists take note): Psychotic blogger/scientist kidnaps strangers, suspends them head-first in a cauldron of rich, bubbling, internet-flavored stew, waits to see what websites seep into their consciousness.

    I’m seeing Mickey Rourke in the villain role…

  51. Barry Summers

    I’m seeing Mickey Rourke in the villain role…

    Scratch that, he has a conflict.

    Oliver Platt? James Broadbent? James Gandolfini? Janeanne Garafalo? Jane Seymour? Seymour Hersh? C’mon, Babe, work with me here…

  52. normanplombe

    i’m a huge follower of rourke, but you’ve gone too far into obscurity for me…and i actually semi-watched the unwatchable ‘barfly’ last night…hey, (by the by) caught you in the village yesterday and wanted to shoot the breeze/banter with you, but you were busy, i was thirsty, and then i got a little starstruck by the local celebrity walking around…i was with my woman, so i split before i embarassed myself..and her..so i went to neo for a couple cold’uns.

  53. Ken Hanke

    Oliver Platt? James Broadbent? James Gandolfini? Janeanne Garafalo? Jane Seymour? Seymour Hersh? C’mon, Babe, work with me here…

    Just pretend you’re Neil Jordan and cast Stephen Rea.

  54. Barry Summers

    ..so i went to neo for a couple cold’uns

    I stayed in the village and sweated…

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