Centipede1 trailer

The theatrical poster.

"100% medically accurate."

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a 2009 body horror film written and directed by Tom Six.


Directed by

Tom Six
Produced by Tom Six
Ilona Six
Written by Tom Six
Starring Dieter Laser

Ashley C. Williams Ashlynn Yennie Akihiro Kitamura

Music by Patrick Savage & Holeg Spies
Cinematography Goof de Koning
Editing by Tom Six

Nigel de Hond

Studio Six Entertainment
Distributed by Bounty Films(International)

IFC Films (United States)

Release date(s) 28 April 2010
Running time 92 minutes
Country Netherlands
Language English
Budget €1.5 million
Box office $252,207(approx. €187,000)

Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), two American tourists in Germany, are drugged and kidnapped by crazed surgeon Dr. Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser) when they seek help after their car breaks down. The women awake in a makeshift medical ward. They witness Heiter kill a kidnapped truck driver (Rene de Wit) after Heiter informs him his tissue samples do not match with the two tourist's. When the women wake up a second time, Heiter has secured a new male captive, Japanese tourist Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura). The doctor explains that he is a world-renowned expert at separating conjoined twins, but dreams of making new creatures by sewing people together. He describes in detail how he will surgically connect his three victims mouth-to-anus, so that they share a single digestive system. After Lindsay fails in an attempt to escape, Heiter explains to Lindsay that he had previously experimented with creating a 3Dog, also joined mouth-to-anus. The 3Dog, however, eventually died after the surgery. Heiter tells Lindsay that the middle dog of his creation experienced the most pain, and as a punishment for her escape attempt she will become the middle part of his centipede. Heiter performs the surgery on his victims, placing Katsuro at the front, Lindsay in the middle and Jenny at the rear.

Once the operation is complete, the doctor tries to train his centipede as a pet. During one such session, Heiter watches with great delight as Lindsay is forced to swallow Katsuro's excrement. However, he eventually becomes irritated after being kept awake by the constant screaming of his victims and the realisation that Jenny is dying from blood poisoning. When two detectives, Kranz (Andreas Leupold) and Voller (Peter Blankenstein), visit the house to investigate the disappearance of tourists, Heiter decides to add them to his centipede as replacements for Jenny. Heiter fails in an attempt to drug the detectives, and they leave the house to obtain a search warrant. The victims attempt to escape from the ward, crawling up the stairs, and Katsuro attacks Heiter. Their attempt to escape ultimately fails. Katsuro confesses to the doctor, in Japanese, that he deserves his fate because he had treated his family poorly. Katsuro then commits suicide by slitting his own throat with a piece of glass. The detectives return to the house and conduct separate searches, as Heiter hides near his swimming pool. Kranz finds the makeshift ward and then hears a gunshot. He discovers Heiter's victims before finding Voller dead in the swimming pool. Heiter shoots Kranz in the stomach, and Kranz responds by shooting Heiter in the head. Kranz then falls in the pool, dead. Back in the house, Jenny and Lindsay hold hands as Jenny dies from her infection. Lindsay is left alone in the house, trapped between her deceased fellow captives.



Creation and influence

"I saw a child molester on television and I said, 'They should stitch this guy with his mouth to the a–– of a very fat truck driver. It would be a really good punishment for him.' Then I thought, 'That’s a cool idea for a film.'"
Tom Six

The inspiration for the film's premise came from a joke that writer/director Tom Six made about punishing a child molester by stitching their mouth to the anus of an overweight truck driver. Six saw this as the concept for a great horror movie, and he began to develop the idea.[1] As Six began developing the idea for a body horror film, Six drew inspiration from Japanese horror films, as well as the works of David Cronenberg and, most pertinently, the controversial film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Six wanted to make a film that induced a reaction from the audience, rather than a forgettable one.[2]

The infamous Nazi human experimentation also had an influence on the medical experiments in the film and on the film's German antagonist, Doctor Josef Heiter. According to Tom Six, "I didn't have any Doctor Frankenstein or things in my head when I wrote the script. It was really inspired by the Nazi doctors." The character's surname (which means "bright" in German) is derived from the real life Nazi doctors Fetter and Richter, while the name "Josef" comes from Josef Mengele. In the words of Dieter Laser, "Under the surface I discovered why [Tom Six] chose a German. Hello, Dr. Mengele! I regard the film as a grotesque [parody] about the Nazi psyche." The use of Japanese and American actors for the human centipede creation was a reference to World War II. Having the Japanese actor as the "head" of the centipede served both as a means to make verbal communication between the centipede and Heiter impossible, and for Tom Six to pay tribute to Japanese horror films. Heiter's laboratory coat is a jacket that was worn by real Nazi doctors during the World War that actor Dieter Laser brought to the set.[3][1][4]


Although The Human Centipede is set in Germany, filming took place in the Netherlands due to the countries' similar landscapes. Dr. Heiter's home, where most of The Human Centipede takes place, was a villa in the Netherlands found by the production team. Some convers ion of the property took place prior to filming. For example, a basement cinema room was converted to form Dr. Heiter's basement operating theatre, with real hospital beds and IV drips rented from a local hospital. The hotel room scene near the beginning of the film was filmed in a hotel suite at a location near Amsterdam. The film was shot almost entirely in sequence, which Ashlynn Yennie stated helped the actors to develop their characters throughout the film.



The Human Centipede (First Sequence) received mixed reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes surveyed that 49% of the 91 reviews listed were positive. The critics consensus reads "Grotesque, visceral and hard to (ahem) swallow, this surgical horror doesn't quite earn its stripes because the gross-outs overwhelm and devalue everything else."[5] The film received a Metacritic rating of 33, indicating generally unfavourable reviews from 15 critics.[6]

R.L. Shaffer of IGN gave the film a 7/10 rating, remarking "For obvious reasons, The Human Centipede won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're willing to sit through the film's gory moments, and delve deeper into the narrative, there's something genuinely enthralling about this shocker. But don't say I didn't warn you -- things get pretty sick."[7] Roger Ebert refused to give the film a star rating, because "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." Ebert also called the film "Depraved and disgusting enough to satisfy the most demanding midnight movie fan."[8]

Michael Ordoña of The Los Angeles Times protested that "There are terrible movies and there are loathsome movies. And then there's that rare breed so idiotic, exploitative and sickening one wishes they could be scrubbed from memory."[9] Kim Newman of Empire Magazine observed "With dark humour from time to time, underneath an extremely repulsive concept, this is a relatively conventional horror movie."[10] Peter Travers of The Rolling Stone criticised First Sequence, believing "This horror show from Dutch director Tom Six will be heaven for devotees of four-star torture porn and zero-star hell for everyone else."[11]

Filmmaker Eli Roth, known for films such as Cabin Fever and Hostel, stated that while watching First Sequence, he "Honestly got sick, and that's the highest compliment I can give a horror film."[12]


Main article: The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)