Notes from the attic: Human Centipede 2

We showed this film for one night a while back and I was the lucky projectionist that eve. I wasn't going to watch it because I'm not a fan of torture horror, but in the end I watched it--mostly because I wanted to hear the crowd's reaction...which was pretty great.

I'm sure some people wonder why these kinds of films exist and who ends up watching them. We only showed Human Centipede 2 for one night and I'm happy to say we had a fairly diverse crowd and about an equal amount of dudes and ladies. I bet most of the crowd there was looking for a thrill (or to test their mettle). I think shock cinema at its purest is the movie equivalent of a haunted house. You go, you get scared, and then have pizza afterwards with your friends. A real nice night.
Human Centipede 2 is so gross I was wondering if there might be some political angle director Tom Six was working. I read some interviews with him on the knowledge box and learned that this film is pretty much pure entertainment (or a challenge), even though Tom was influenced by Pasolini's 1975 gross-out political satire Salò. Tom finds it an honor if you walk out of his film. I guess if you're trying to make the grossest, scariest movie possible that makes sense.

In one interview with Six and actor Laurence Harvey (the butcher), Laurence, also a big horror fan, mentioned a movie that led me on another search and to a list of "movies you wish you could unwatch." Part of the cinema experience is sometimes watching movies that don't live up to your expectations--bad movies that you wish you'd never watched because you could've watched something better. This happens to everyone at some point (or maybe all the time for some people). Movies you'd like to unwatch is a li'l different. Sure, you might say that you'd like to unwatch the Phantom Menace but you don't mean it really. That was just a little disappointment. You can live with that, and now that you've seen it you have the right to complain about it. There are movies out there that are so vile, gross or disturbing that you wish you could reverse time and unwatch them or burn the images out of your head. It would actually be better if you'd never watched them in the first place. These films make you question the very fabric of humanity and the health of society.
I'm just kidding about that last part...but maybe I'm not.

Certainly age is a factor in all this (and personal experience, as with any kind of art). Ideally, sensitive children (like myself) shouldn't watch super scary movies.  There are horror movies that I saw too young that stuck with me for too long. If I hadn't watched Steven King's IT or Pumpkin Head when I did I imagine my nighttime walks would've been a bit more fun. I'm sure those movies would be ridiculous to me now (I hope).

The following movies are ones I've seen as an adult and would place into the unwatchable category. Now, I don't really want to unwatch these films, as they have their place in cinema and history (and I'm interested in that), but they are not for everyone and should be approached with caution.

I mentioned Salò (1975) earlier so I'll start with that. This was banned for many years and I believe that Criterion wasn't allowed to released it without contextual bonus material. This is a shocking anti-Fascist film that cost Pasolini his life. It's loosely based on the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom, which should tell you enough.

Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)  This probably shouldn't be here but this really disturbed me when I watched it. I was at 9th Street Video when it was still on 9th and was trying to rent Death Race 2000 (a classic) but it was checked out. At the time they had a Killer Bs list (B-level movies about murder and mayhem) and I glanced over and picked Maniacs!...from the bottom of the list. It's not that the movie is particularly scary or gross, it's that there is something deeply unsettling about the serious intensity of the actors coupled with the incredibly fake, extreme violence...drawing and quartering, crushing people with rocks. This movie is basically an evil Brigadoon. Yee.

Antichrist (2009)  Good ol' Lars von Trier. I liked this movie and thought it was beautifully shot, but there are some shocking moments that will send you running. Intimately shocking. It's about a couple dealing with the death of their child by spending some time in a cabin in the woods. But there's an evil that lives in those woods.

Irreversible (2002)  This might be king of the list. From Gaspar Noé. Describing it in detail would be too much for this blog. It is probably the most brutal and disturbing film I've watched.

Enter the Void (2009) Also from Gaspar. Not as violent as Irreversible, but its hyper-sexuality and meandering bizarreness earn it a spot on this list. About two siblings in Japan and their sad history and lives. (I still haven't seen his I Stand Alone, but 9th Street has it...)

Pink Flamingos (1972)  I made the mistake of bringing this to a movie party in college once. Everyone ran away. Thank you, Mr Waters. The insane grossness and weirdness levels get it a spot here. Oh, Devine. [I would actually watch this again. I just wanted to add something a li'l more fun here.]

And I guess that's my list so far. Seems like it should be longer. I still haven't seen Cannibal Ferox (another banned film). Audition and Ichi the Killer by Takashi Miike often wind up on these lists, too. I've seen Audition, and it is disturbing, but not quite enough to make it on my list.

So what's on your "I never need to see that again!" list?

Oh, and see ya again for Human Centipede 3 next year. (Yes, it's true.)