The Descent: Part 2 review

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As a reviewer, I approach all movies with an impartial attitude. Sure, there are times when I read a lot of hype so going in my expectations are high. But  99.9% of the time I don’t have an opinion about a flick before I see it (other than the typical, “I heard good things about this one; I can’t wait to see it).That other .1%  – well, sometimes I just can’t help myself. THE DESCENT: PART 2 falls into that .1%.

It’s no mystery that I absolutely love 2005’s THE DESCENT. It was, in fact, my third favorite movie of the last decade. Its success was due to the brilliant Neil Marshall and the great characters, great story, and great creatures he created. So when I heard that THE DESCENT: PART 2 was being made and Marshall wasn’t directing or writing it, my heart sank. How could the new director expect to recreate even half of the claustrophobic and horrifying atmosphere of the original? I admit that when I sat down to watch this one last night, I was expecting to hate it.

Well I’m very happy to say that I didn’t “hate” it and that I actually rather enjoyed it. The story picks up exactly, and I mean exactly, where the first part ended. Sarah, played again by the hot Shauna MacDonald, has escaped from the uncharted cave system after being attacked by the crawlers (those bat-like creatures who have lived in the cave system evolving over thousands of years). At the same time, across the county there is a search and rescue party looking for the group of girl’s from the first film (remember Juno turned in one map and then took the girls to a different location in order to be the first ones to explore the uncharted cave system). Sarah, understandably in shock,  is unable to explain where her friends are and why she is covered from head to toe in their blood.

The Descent: Part 2 (2009)Since she can’t say what happened, the sheriff Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy) forces her back into the caves to help him and a small rescue team find any survivors. Yes, this part is pretty retarded. Sarah is pretty much paralyzed with post traumatic shock, and she is forced to put some fresh gear on and head up the rescue team? Not likely. And why doesn’t anyone from the rescue team, made up of six people including Sarah, tell anyone else where they’re going? None of the other rescuers know that these six people are descending into the cave system. Again: it doesn’t make any sense, but I guess they needed to get Sarah back into the cave somehow!

This is the basic set up. Sounds simple, and it is. But somehow first time director Jon Harris makes it work. He manages to give us some genuine scares and tense moments. It probably helps that Harris was the editor on the first movie, so he is familiar with what made the first one work. But then about half way through the flick, you realize that you are watching the exact same story as the original THE DESCENT. We get the standard cave-in, the event that separates some of our characters, and the inevitable “twist” (here the twist is that one of the girls from the first flick managed to survive). And I may sound like I’m criticizing THE DESCENT: PART 2 for this (and I am to a point), but I’m also patting it on the back for not trying to distance itself from the original.

The Descent: Part 2 (2009)We all know that the creatures are down there and that they’re gonna attack our new group: that’s a given; there was no way the writers could avoid that. We also know we wouldn’t get as strong and unique a cast as the first one. The fact they were all strong and fiercely independent women in the original was a great touch by Marshall. These were the two main elements that made the first movie so goddamn good. So instead of taking the sequel into new territory and possibly alienating the fan base from the original, the film makers decided to stick to the winning formula and put their own touches on it. There are also a lot of flash backs to the first film giving this a very nostalgic feel. The decision to keep the same basic pattern, for the most part, works. And hey, lets be honest: isn’t this the same thing that Raimi did with EVIL DEAD 2?? The first two EVIL DEADs are pretty much the same friggin’ movie. Think about it.

This isn’t to say that everything works. The script is at times very uneven, and the characters do a lot of very stupid things.  Sarah’s character suddenly snaps out of her near-catatonia and starts kicking ass; not a lot real development with her. But Harris keeps everything moving along at a really nice pace and keeps the scares and gore at a nice high level.

This brings us to the final two characters of the film: The Crawlers and the cave itself. I haven’t done a frame-by-frame comparison of the two THE DESCENT’s, but it sure as hell looks like they used the same cave sets in both. Harris recaptures the claustrophobic atmosphere that will have you gasping for breath just like the characters (one of whom survives the cave-in, trapped in a very enclosed space with a crawler trying to get to her – that was one of the best scenes in the film. So if you like the cave sets in the first you’ll like them here again, although Harris doesn’t do quite as good a job of making the cave itself a menacing character, as Marshall did.

The Descent: Part 2 (2009)Overall I wasn’t crazy about what the writers did with the crawlers. The crawlers – according to Marshall, who created them – are “cave people who never left the caves.” They evolved over thousands of years and are blind with heightened senses of smell and hearing. They are pure instinct and live essentially to survive. THE DESCENT portrayed this beautifully, but in THE DESCENT: PART 2 it almost seems as if the crawlers are killing our rescue team simply to kill them, not for food. Some of the crawlers are also fucking ripped like body builders and throw around some of the girls like rag dolls. I didn’t think they had super-human strength. And in an odd turn we do get to see a crawler squat and take a shit (I could’ve gone my entire life without seeing that).

If you loved THE DESCENT, then you will enjoy THE DESCENT: PART 2. It’s essentially the same story arc with a couple returning characters, a fast pace, decent looking creatures, and ample gore. There are definitely problems with the script (like the ending: was that really necessary?); the lack of Neil Marshall’s presence is felt, and the crawlers seem to have bought a weight-lifting bench and Ripped-Muscle Energy Fuel, but overall it’s a solid horror flick that you’ll enjoy. I recommend it.

My Summary:

  • Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Gore: 6.5 out of 10 skulls
  • Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

06THE DESCENT: PART 2 (copyright: 2009; U.S. DVD release: April 27, 2010). Directed by Jon Harris. Screenplay by J Blakeson, James McCarthy, James Watkins, based on characters created by Neil Marshall (uncredited). Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Douglas Hodge, Joshua Dallas, Anna Skellern, Krysten Cummings, Doug Ballard, Josh Cole, Saskia Mulder, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, Alex Reid, Nora-Jane Noone, MyAnna Buring.


Eyeborgs: DVD Review

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It may seem to have “ScFy Channel” written all over it, but EYEBORGS turns out to be a well-acted film with an intelligent story and a topical message.

When I sat down to watch EYEBORGS, I was expecting nothing more than a SyFy Channel-level flick with crappy f/x, a silly one-note story, and wooden characters. And why wouldn’t I expect that? The movie is about surveillance cameras, originally designed to protect us, attacking and killing people – it has “SyFy” written all over it. I was in fact wondering why this hadn’t aired on that channel. But after watching for only 10 minutes, I  realized that EYEBORGS is well-acted with an intelligent story that has a very topical message. In short, I was pleasantly surprised.

We’re told that after another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the government initiated a wide-reaching and intense surveillance program by which every camera in the U.S. is linked to a single network called O.D.I.N (Optical Defense Intelligence Network). In other words, the U.S. government has created Big Brother – no, not that shitty reality show but the Orwellian society in which everyone is being watched at every point of the day in every thing they do. It’s the United States of Fascist America!! The always good Adrian Paul (from the HIGHLANDER TV show) plays R.J. Reynolds, an agent for Homeland Security. Along with a reporter (played by Megan Blake) and Jarett (Luke Eberl), the nephew of the President, they become entangled in a plot to assassinate President Hewes (Mark Joy). It seems someone has hacked into the O.D.I.N system and is programming the surveillance cameras (some are small; others look like huge spiders) to kill people who are getting too close to the truth. I can’t go too much more into the story without giving away some spoilers, but I can tell you that nothing is as it seems in this surprisingly layered story. Think CHOPPING MALL with elements of RUNAWAY with a tiny sprinkle of THE TERMINATOR and you come close to EYEBORGS!

Danny  Trejo
Danny Trejo

EYEBORGS is at times hindered by some made-for-TV-level acting and action, but you’ll overlook this as you find yourself getting sucked into the plot. Genre favorite Danny Trejo pops up as G-Man, the owner of a guitar shop who is also part of an underground resistance fighting the ever-increasing loss of freedom. Or is he? He may be involved in the plot to kill the president – or he might just be a patsy. Writers Fran and Richard Clabaugh (Richard also directed) do a fantastic job of making you think you have everything figured out – and then completely twisting the plot in a different direction. And they do this two to three times. The “twists” are inherently logical to the overall story and don’t feel at all forced.

EYEBORGS features some pretty good visual effects. The surveillance robots range from cute-looking little mobile cameras straight out of a Disney flick to some bigger, intimidating Volkswagen-sized spider-looking cameras that have somehow been fitted with weapons. Overall, the CGI is pretty good and the scenes with the humans and robots interacting are well-done.

There’s not much by way of extras on the EYEBORGS DVD. We get six deleted scenes, the trailer, and a “Behind the Scenes” feature which includes a “Making of the Eyeborgs,” a blooper reel, and “How to Make a Robot in Three Minutes.”

EYEBORGS is not perfect, but it will keep you involved – and guessing – until the final scenes. The strength of the film is definitely the story. We get a solid movie with a very timely message that asks, “How much of our freedom are we willing to sacrifice in order to feel safe?” But this isn’t some preachy sci-fi flick that’s all talk. There’s a boatload of action here; some of it effective, some of it that misses the mark. But the final battle between the humans and robots is exciting and has you cheering the “good guys” on. The ending is also refreshing: We get a pretty dark and depressing conclusion in which things go from bad to worse for humanity. Good stuff; I recommend this one.

Eyeborgs (2009) robot

EYEBORGS (2009; released on video July 6, 2010). Directed by Richard Clabaugh. Written by Fran CLabaugh & Richard Clabaugh. Cast: Adrian Paul, Megal Blake, Luke Eberl, Dany Trejo, Tim Bell, James Marshall Case, Dale Girard, Julie Horner, Mark Joy, Huyen Thi.

Eyeborgs (2009) victim


[REC] 2: Better Than the Original

[Rec] 2 (2009)
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In 2007, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza took the horror world by storm with their film [REC] – which proved you could still jolt some life into the zombie genre, and you didn’t need a big budget. The writer-director team took the simple idea of a group of people trapped in an apartment building after a highly contagious virus breaks out, and they ran with it. Hell – they sprinted! [REC] was so successful, in fact, that a remake, QUARANTINE (2008), was competed even before the original reached the U.S. With all this success, it’s no wonder that two years later [REC] 2 has been released (first on MOD/VOD and now in limited theatrical engagements). But the question stands: is it a worthy follow up to the original? I won’t leave you in suspense; [REC] 2 is scarier, darker, and overall better than the first one. That’s right people, as amazing as the first one is, [REC] 2 is better in every way. Ok, I got that off my chest.

[REC] 2 resumes immediately the ending of the first film. We even see reporter Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) being dragged off into the dark room. We then  join a four-member SWAT team as they are on their way to the quarantined apartment building. As the leader says, “Record everything,” and that they do! The SWAT team is joined by Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor), and their job is to contain the outbreak and report on how bad the threat actually is. Well, that’s what they think their mission is.

[REC] 2 (2009)Writer-directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (as well as writer Manu Deiz) don’t waste any time here. The new group is inside the apartment complex within the first five minutes; the action, horror, and blood start immediately, never letting up. Balagueró and Plaza take all the elements that made [REC] so amazing and injected some hardcore steroids into them. What we get here is not so much a sequel but a continuation of the first film. (I actually watched both REC films back-to-back and they flow beautifully together.)

We also get an explanation as to the cause of the virus (don’t worry, I’ll let you find out on your own) within the first fifteen minutes. The directors take a small aspect of [REC] and make it a major plot point here (the major plot point actually). The virus has a religious cause, and the key to finding a cure lies with the little girl Niña Medeiros (Javier Botet), from the first film. Just wait till you hear the cause of the virus! At first I wasn’t too pleased with the explanation, but as the film moves along (at a very fast pace) the explanation made more and more sense; it was in fact pretty damn original and unique. If you are well versed in your 1980s Italian horror films, [REC] 2 will remind you of Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS and DEMONS 2 (which is a huge compliment).

[REC] 2 (2009)No character is safe here, and the infected tear through the new group so quickly that the writers needed to include more victims, so about half way through we are introduced to three 20-somethings who manage to get caught up in the action and suddenly find themselves in the quarantined apartment building. When we’re introduced to the new characters, it does slightly interrupt the flow of the movie, but the directors don’t waste any time getting back to all the fun. This time out we get to see the infected up close and personal, with a good view of the effects. The infected are pretty horrifying, and there is enough gore here to fill two sequels.

If you’re a fan of the first [REC] and hate the f*cking terrible remake QUARANTINE, then get out and see [REC] 2!! Most of the time the best we could hope for would be a sequel that doesn’t completely suck; here we get a faster, gorier, scarier, better movie than the first. This is an extremely easy review to write – a no-brainer, in fact. Go out and see [REC] 2; I loved every second of it.

[REC] 2 (2009). Directed by Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza. Written by Jaume Balguero, Manu Diez, Paco Plaza. Cast: Jonathan Mello, Manuela Velasco, Oscar Zafra, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca, Pablo Rosso, Pep Molina, Andrea Ros, Alex Batllori, Pau Poch, Juli Fabregas, Ferran Terraza, Claudia Silva.


Beyond Sherwood Forest (2009)

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BEYOND SHERWOOD FOREST – which aired on SyFy Channel last year and arrived on home video in May – tries to hammer the Robin Hood mythos into the sword-and-sorcery genre with terrible results. It is a mess of a film, filled with unimpressive CGI, a problematic cast, and severe story issues.

Beyond Sherwood Forest starts with a young Robin Hood witnessing a crappy looking dragon killing his pa. Flash forward a few decades, and Robin Hood (all grown up and played by Robin Dunne) is stealing from the rich to give to the poor and pissing off the evil Prince John (David Richmond-Peck). So Prince John enlists the help of the Sheriff of Nottingham (a very hammy Julian Sands), who uses the crappy looking dragon from the opening to hunt down and kill Robin Hood. But the twist is the shitty looking dragon is actually a pretty damn cute looking shape shifter, Alina (Katharine Isabelle), and the Sheriff promises to help break her curse of turning into a dragon if she kills both Robin Hood and his merry men. There’s also this “stargate-looking” effect that separates two worlds and is never really explained. Fweh!! Got all that?

Besides the story being all over the place, Beyond Sherwood Forest is weak in the acting department. Robin Dunne, who’s no newcomer to the genre (he was in 2002’s American Psycho 2, 2004’s Species 3, & SyFy’s series Sanctuary) is completely miscast as Robin Hood. He gives no edge to the character and is totally unbelievable as a renegade bandit. Erica Durance (2003‘s House of the Dead and 2006‘s Butterfly Effect 2) as Maid Marian, on the other hand, plays her role with energy that is fun to watch while she kicks ass all over the place (plus, she’s not too hard on the eyes). Finally there’s Julian Sands. Oh Julian. Where’s that quirky, borderline crazy “Julian Sands” that starred in Warlock (1989), Arachnophobia (1990), and Naked Lunch (1991)? Here, Sands is just pure cheese, and you couldn’t help thinking, “Sands is no Alan Rickman!!”

Directed by Peter DeLuise (yes, that DeLuise), Beyond Sherwood Forest feels like a lazy film thrown together quickly. Writer Chase Parker, who also penned the other SyFy Channel flicks Boa vs. Python (2004), Path of Destruction (2005), Basilisk: The Serpent King (2006), and Reign of the Gargoyles (2007) has his formula and he sticks to it. He creates characters with no depth, gives them crappy dialogue, and keeps them the same the entire course of the film (no development here, people).

The result is a completely unnecessary attempt to reinvent the Robin Hood story, with minimal action, poor acting, and really bad effects. You can pass on this one.

BEYOND SHERWOOD FOREST (ScFy Channel, 2009; home video May 25, 2010). Directed by Peter DeLuise. Written by Chase Parker. Cast: Robin Dunne, Erica Durance, Julian Sands, Katharine Isabelle, Mark Gibbon, Cainan Wiebe, Richard d Klerk, Bill Dow, Brent Stait, Paul Lazenby.

Class of Nuke ‘Em High (Blu-ray Edition)

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The unrated director’s cut of Troma’s cult classic is back on a Blu-ray disc loaded with bonus features.

Aahhh Troma movies! The Spirit of guerilla filmmaking lives on to this day with Troma Entertainment films (don’t believe me, go watch POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD). Troma, and its co-founder Lloyd Kaufman, provide the last bastion of independent, fun, over-the-top, gory genre flicks. Troma has given us such classics as THE TOXIC AVENGER, TERROR FIRMA, TROMEO AND JULIET, and TROMA’S WAR; produced such cringe-inducing flicks as MOTHER’S DAY and IGOR AND THE LUNATICS; and distributed such groaners as SURF NAZIES MUST DIE and KILLER CONDOM. Troma Entertainment movies, especially those written and directed by Lloyd Kaufman, are not for everyone. If you hate toilet humor, excessive gore, lesbians, crazy plot lines, borderline acting, and general gonzo craziness, then you will definitely want to stay away from Troma films. But if you enjoy such delicacies – well come on in, have a seat, and let’s talk.

Ok, enough of that. If you’re reading this, then you probably already love Troma Films and Uncle Lloyd. Let’s get to the reason you’re reading this posting: The new Blu-ray Edition of Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986), released on June 1, 2010. Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that you’re not getting a different version from the “Unrated Director’s Cut” that was released on DVD back in December 1997. Both versions have an 85-minute running time, so the only difference is upgrade in video quality that this new Blu-ray release allows. (Oh, and the Blu-ray has no region coding, so you can enjoy the disc worldwide!)

I have a special place in my heart for Class of Nuke ‘Em High. The was the first Troma flick I ever saw. I rented it back in the days (before Blockbuster Video cornered the market on movie rentals) when all the Ma and Pa corner video stores were competing with each other. The successful places had the goriest movies, and that’s the kinda place I found this gem. I rented it based solely on the video cover art, which showed a half-naked chick in leather being hugged by some mutant-goon with a picture of a monster in the background. I love it (and they kept the same cover art for the Blu-ray edition)!! And unlike most other video cover art, this one had all these elements in the movie – and more! What more could a 16 year old boy ask for??

The story  begins in Tromaville. Tromaville, NJ is for Kaufman what Castle Rock, ME is for Stephen King. It seems the local nuclear power plant has sprung a leak, and toxic waste is absorbed into the ground, finding its way to the (very) nearby high school. The water is contaminated, and we see students drinking the thick, green jello-like polluted gunk out of the fountain. The effects of are pretty mild and barely noticeable (yeah, right!!). The honor society, once the preppies of the school, are now a vicious and violent gang of mutants who make everyone’s lives at school miserable. And don’t even ask about the AV Club!! Even some teachers become seduced to the mutant side, which leads them to dress and act slutty (all for our entertainment, of course).

Amidst all these bizarre characters are Chrissy and Warren, white-bread high school sweethearts a little on the “goody-goody” side. They’ve been dating for a while, and when their friends realize they haven’t banged each other yet, they step in to help the two lovers out. Warren’s buddy buys some weed that was grown at the contaminated power plant and gives it to the cute couple to help “grease the gears.” The weed works all too well and gives them an “Atomic High” that turns Warren’s load into “super sperm.” Within days Chrissy gestates a little mutant baby that she vomits into the toilets at school and which gets flushed. Oh yes folks -we’re into some truly bizarre territory here. As weird as it sounds, the fast paced-direction, the collection of odd-ball characters, and the actors involved make this really fun.

We even get a brief homage to Kaufman’s Toxic Avenger (1985), when we see one of the side effects of the Atomic High turning Warren into a mutated vigilante. He confronts a few of the honor society mutants in an alley and pretty much turns them into goo. Just wait to see the effects of Warren punching one of them: Gives new meaning to the term “fisting”!

Say what you will about Troma and Uncle Lloyd, but that man knows how to find and cast young, cute, and very innocent looking girls in the lead roles. Don’t believe me? Check out actress Kate Graham (the lead in Poultrygeist) and Jane Jensen (the lead in Tromeo and Juliet). And here Janelle Brady, who plays Chrissy, is a true 1980s babe. She’s cute and a bit of a bimbo, but underneath the surface there is a bad girl bubbling to get out.

The story takes a lot of truly bizarre twists and turns. The mutant ex-honor students get expelled from school and decide to come back, heavily armed of course. They blame Warren for their expulsion, so they kidnap Chrissy to lure him into the evacuated school. Oh, but wait: remember that little mutant tadpole Chrissy puked up? Well it’s all grown up now. This has an ending that must be seen to be believed!!

Like all Troma releases, this movie never for one second takes itself seriously. It’s full of toilet humor, bodily fluids, and tons of gratuitous gore. Good family fun if ya ask me. If you haven’t seen this one in a while (or even worse, haven’t seen it at all), then this is the prefect time to upgrade to the Blu-ray Edition. Call some buddies over, make some green jello shots, grab your favorite bong, and have a blast! Don’t miss this one.


After you’re threw with the movie, if you haven’t knocked back so many beers you’re unconscious, you can check out these bonus features:

  • Nuke ’Em High School Sweethearts: New interview with Robert and Jennifer Prichard, stars of Class of Nuke ’Em High
  • Audio commentary by Troma president and former Nuclear Power Commissioner Lloyd Kaufman
  • Audio commentary by Class of Nuke ’Em High special effects and miniatures creator Theo Pingarelli
  • Deleted Scenes originally thought lost during the Chernobyl disaster
  • The original theatrical trailer for Class of Nuke ’Em High and other Tromatic classics
  • Includes the hilarious episode from the Tromaville cafe

CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH (a.k.a. ATOMIC HIGH SCHOOL, 1986). Directors: Richard Haines, Michael Herz, & Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Weil). Writers: Lloyd Kaufman, Richard W. Haines, Mark Rudnitsky, Stuart Strutin. Cast: Janelle Brady Gil Brenton, Robert Prichard, Pat Ryan.

Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009)

The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009)Not since the brilliant French film MARTYRS (2008) has a movie come on the scene, grabbed you by the throat, and essentially dared you to watch it without flinching. This is what was promised with THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FIRST SEQUENCE, which is gaining quite the cult following and is now in limited release around the country in midnight shows and can be found on MOD/VOD (check with your local cable company). Does it deliver? In a word, not even close. This film is full of bad acting, pacing problems, and it is a victim of being over-hyped so much that it couldn’t possibly deliver what it promises. But who’s fault is this?

As THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE opens we join Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, resembling the bastard love-child of Lance Henriksen and Udo Kier) who is sitting in his car in the shoulder of the road. He’s staring fondly at a picture of a canine centipede in which he joined three dogs to make one long creature. The opening ends with the good doc drugging and kidnapping a fat trucker. Flash to our heroines, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), two American tourists traveling across Germany. They’re getting ready to go to a party that is apparently in the middle of nowhere (judging by the roads they’re traveling on). On the way, their car gets a flat tire on a very remote road and after an encounter with an older, very creepy German guy they decide to walk and find help. Guess which house they end up at?

Is any of this sounding familiar? It should – it’s the set up for about 1,000 flicks. The “strangers lost in a strange land” is nothing new. But those who’ve bought into the hype will remain patient. I did. Unfortunately, this patience will be rewarded far too soon.

In case you haven’t already noticed, it becomes obvious that there’s something very wrong with Heiter. We learn that he’s a world-renowned surgeon who specialized in separating Siamese twins. Now retired, he’s doing “research” in his home lab – that’s never a good sign. He’s obsessed with creating a three-segment human centipede in which three subjects are connected mouth-to-anus, sharing one digestive track. Heiter sees the arrival of Lindsay and Jenny as a windfall opportunity. He already has the fat trucker, so he does what any good host-mad scientist would do: He slips the girls some roofies, chains them up in his basement operating room and preps them for surgery. It turns out the trucker’s tissue samples don’t match the girls, so Heiter kills the trucker and then kidnaps a Japanese tourist. Perfect match.

Now THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE has all his pieces in place, and you can just feel a sick combination of dread and anticipation welling up inside as Heiter explains to his subjects what he’s going to do to them: remove their teeth, remove the ligaments from their knees, and alter their anuses in order to connect them mouth-to-anus. Then just as he starts the procedure the scene fades to black, and bam, the operation is over.

Where’s the horror we were promised – the stuff that was supposed to challenge us to keep our eyes glued on the screen? Presumably, that was left on the cutting room floor in order to rush to reveal the titular abomination about 30-40 minutes into the running time. We see the human centipede, yawn, and then watch as Heiter trains – that’s right, trains – his new pet.

This is a huge problem; after writer-director Tom Six blows his wad in a most anticlimactic way, you quickly find yourself losing interest. There’s just nothing to keep our attention after the human centipede is revealed. The entire film suffers from a very slow and lumbering pace, and let’s be honest here, there’s barely enough material to fill a short film let alone a feature length movie.

And is this material all that original? I seem to recall a novel written by H.G. Wells called THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU – in 1896!! . Yes, there are a lot of differences in the two stories (Dr. Moreau is turning animals into people rather than people into animals), but if Tom Six focused on the story, characters, and social commentary more than trying to make a disturbing and graphic film, he would have had more success.

The only interesting character is Dr. Heiter. There’s no doubt he’s bat-shit crazy, but what makes him so dangerous is that he’s focused, intelligent, and determined. He doesn’t look at his prisoners as people; they’re simply subjects to help him with his research and are no different than a lab mouse. It’s also pretty clear that Heiter doesn’t like people and seems to have grown tired of the human race. People, to him, are subjects to be experimented on.

Laser plays the part beautifully – the one shining performance in this otherwise annoying cast. The girls, at least after being captured, are whiny and annoying. During one of cinema’s most epic-failed escape attempts, Lindsay goes full retard (and everyone knows you don’t go full retard), making so much noise you just root for Heiter to capture her. (At one point she actually tries to hide under water while Heiter stands by the side of the pool.) There’s not one second when you think she’ll succeed – the entire escape feels tagged on in order pad out the running time.

For an allegedly disturbing flick, with a totally twisted premise, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE is actually rather blood-less. One tag-line for the film is “100% Medically Accurate,” and that’s the main problem. The approach is so clinical that there’s no over-the-top mayhem that could have catapulted it to cult classic status – or at least made it a midnight movie favourite. In fact, all the the “disturbing” imagery is included in the trailer. So if you saw the trailer you’ve essentially already seen the entire film. Besides Dieter Laser’s performance, there’s nothing here to recommend, and on top of everything else, the sound quality is terrible.

Apparently, there’s already a part two in the works with a 12 segment human centipede. Meh. Skip this one and go watch Martyrs again.

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FIRST SEQUENCE (2009; VOD release on April 28, 2010; USA theatrical distribution starting April 30, 2010). Written and directed by Tom Six. Cast: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlyn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura, Andreas Leupold, Peter Blankenstein.