Have you ever wondered, “Is Human Centipede real?” The answer might surprise you. This article delves into the chilling history and inspirations behind the infamous horror film trilogy “The Human Centipede,” directed by Dutch filmmaker Tom Six. The films, known for their disturbing and grotesque scenes, have been the subject of much controversy since their release. However, the real-life stories and inspirations behind them may be even more shocking
The Birth of a Horrific Concept
The origin of the concept for “The Human Centipede” is itself the stuff of nightmares. The idea germinated from a dark joke Six made about an extreme punishment for child molesters. The punishment involved stitching the offender’s mouth to the anus of a hefty truck driver. This gruesome idea laid the foundation for the film’s plot, which centers around a deranged surgeon who kidnaps and tortures three tourists before surgically conjoining them, mouth to anus, to form a human centipede.
The Real-Life Inspirations
While the gruesome concept was born from Six’s dark humor, the disturbing narrative of the film drew inspiration from real-life events. One of the primary historical inspirations for the film was the horrifying experiments conducted by the Nazis during World War II, particularly the diabolical experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele.
The Nazis conducted a series of medical tortures on concentration camp prisoners, often resulting in death, trauma, disfigurement, and permanent disability. Some of the most horrifying experiments involved forcibly sewing twins together to mimic conjoined twins and conducting bone, muscle, and nerve transplants without anesthesia.
These vile acts of human experimentation, particularly the forced conjoinment of twins, resonate strongly with the central premise of “The Human Centipede.” This grim historical context adds another layer of horror to the film, underlining the terrifying reality of past atrocities.
The Nazi Influence: Dr. Josef Heiter
The character of Dr. Josef Heiter, the German surgeon who created the human centipede, is a clear nod to the real-life figure of Dr. Josef Mengele. Notably, the name Heiter translates to “cheerful” in German, a horrifyingly ironic moniker for a character who embodies the darkest aspects of humanity.
Heiter’s character was designed to represent the Nazi German psyche, reflecting the monstrous cruelty and inhumanity of the Nazi concentration camps. The film further symbolizes the countries involved in World War II through the victims’ nationalities, enhancing its historical significance.
Other Cinematic Influences
In addition to real-life events and figures, Six also drew inspiration from previous cinematic offerings from directors like David Cronenberg and David Lynch. Moreover, the Dutch version of the popular reality series “Big Brother” influenced the film’s concept and execution.
The film’s inherent shock value and visceral horror align with Cronenberg’s and Lynch’s signature styles, which often explore body horror and the darker aspects of the human psyche. The influence of “Big Brother,” on the other hand, brings a sense of voyeurism and exploitation that further amplifies the film’s disturbing elements.
The Human Centipede 2: A Darker Turn
The sequel to “The Human Centipede” took the horror to an even darker place, incorporating more graphic scenes and a wider range of inspirations. The plot centered on a fan of the first film who, in a meta twist, conducts his own brutal experiments, mirroring the actions of Dr. Heiter.
This plot choice was inspired by Six’s fascination with copycat serial killers, who often start as fans of the original criminal. The term “copycat killer” was coined following the murders by the infamous Jack the Ripper, which sparked a series of similar killings.
The film “Natural Born Killers,” which was loosely based on real-life serial killers Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, also influenced the sequel. The film is often blamed for inspiring copycat killings, further emphasizing the dangerous allure of violent media.
The Human Centipede 3: A Return to Original Themes
The final film in the trilogy, “The Human Centipede 3,” saw Six returning to the original theme that inspired the film series: punishment. Set in a prison, a psychotic warden and his accountant (played by the actors behind the villains of the first two films) inflict brutal tortures on the inmates, including mass castration and the creation of a massive 500-person human centipede.
This film was met with harsh criticism for its satirical tone and extreme violence. It delved into dystopian territory, with the prison governor approving the torturous punishments as “what America needs.” This approval reflects the extreme values in corporal punishment bleeding into culturally-approved torture, a theme that has always been controversial.
The film likely drew inspiration from infamous prisons known for torture, such as Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and, of course, the Nazi concentration camps, the primary inspiration for the first film.
The Legacy of The Human Centipede
Despite the controversy and criticism, “The Human Centipede” has left a lasting impact on the horror genre. Its shocking concept, historical inspirations, and visceral horror have resulted in a cult following that continues to this day.
While the film is undoubtedly a work of fiction, its roots in real-life atrocities serve as a chilling reminder of humanity’s capacity for evil. So, the next time someone asks, “Is Human Centipede real?” the answer is not a simple yes or no. While the film’s gruesome plot is thankfully not a reality, the horrifying inspirations behind it are all too real.
The Future: Onania Club
Fans of Tom Six’s disturbing horror films can look forward to his next project, a psychological thriller titled “The Onania Club.” Given Six’s track record, we can expect nothing less than another provocative and controversial film.
So, while we may shudder at the thought of a real-life human centipede, we can take comfort in the knowledge that it remains a work of fiction. However, the real horrors that inspired it serve as a sobering reminder of the dark corners of human history.
In conclusion, the question “Is Human Centipede real?” might be misleading. While the grotesque story depicted is thankfully fictional, it’s based on horrifying real-life stories and historical events. This blend of reality and fiction makes “The Human Centipede” a truly haunting cinematic experience.
The trilogy serves as a grotesque metaphor for some of the darkest periods in human history, reminding us of the depths of cruelty that humanity can descend into. This chilling reality check is perhaps why the films continue to provoke discussion and debate years after their release.
While the real-life human centipede remains a horrifying fantasy, the historical atrocities it alludes to are sadly all too real. It’s a grim reminder of a past we must never forget — and never repeat.