Infamovies: Father’s Day (2011)

An off-beat black comedy that holds its tongue firmly, immovably in its cheek and takes the most protected refuge in audacity I’ve seen in a long while has been banned in Australia.

This comedy is called Father’s Day, and I honestly can’t see why it’s been banned.

So far, the only reasoning I can hunt down is from the Australian Classification Board’s website which follows:

“Reason: Film 1(a) The film is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Films Table, 1. (a) as films that “depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.”

This film, other than being genuinely hilarious as black comedies go, is also a Troma film, or at least partly produced by Troma. So right off the bat, the tone and bar at which you place the “reasonable adults” has to be set a little higher, as Troma audiences are used to more offensive films and kind of revel in it.

But this movie is audacious, rather than offensive. If anything, it’s actually quite good-hearted in its humour, which, yes, is extravagant and over the top and at times completely tasteless, but that’s the point.

The plot is this:

A serial killer whose M.O. is to kill fathers after raping them is on the loose, causing the death of dads everywhere. He is known as “The Fuchman” and made the mistake years ago of killing our protagonist Ahab’s father. Ahab is a tough and grizzled man with an eyepatch who lives his days in the woods, tapping maple syrup from trees even though they’re not actually maple trees (yes, the film is Canadian).

Also along for the ride are Twink, a young gay hustler whose recently lost his overbearing father to The Fuchman’s spree, and Father John Sullivan, a young priest who’s been tasked with looking after Twink as part of the latter’s father’s dying wish.

The three team up to hunt down The Fuchman and end his spree, but things get complicated when Ahab’s sister Chelsea gets kidnapped by the Fuchman, culminating in a literal trip to hell to save her.

This is a priest, holding an angel hostage in front of God. Your banning is invalid

I’m deliberately keeping the synopsis light, because, if this does ever get reallowed in Australia, I really don’t want to spoil this for an audience, because it’s fucking awesome. It’s not quite at the same level, but this fits right alongside other self-aware tongue-in-cheek comedies like Black Dynamite, and given my love of Black Dynamite, that’s high praise.

So yes, there’s rape in this movie, and while I normally stay very guarded about what I say on that topic for fear of accidental implications, it’s nowhere near as offensive as it could be here. Right from the start, the tone of this movie is set at ludicrously exaggerated, and so the few rape scenes (all of which are The Fuchman raping men) are used as offensive comedy. To parallel, consider dead-baby-jokes. Many find them incredibly offensive, but the point of those jokes is not that the punch line is funny, they’re funny because of how ridiculously-inappropriate it is to tell them at all. This movie’s rape content works like that.

Please don’t misconstrue that as me saying “male rape is automatically funny” because it’s absolutely not (remember this review?), but this film is aware its not funny and so has used it as a segment of a theme for some very black humour.

That theme is that everything to do with The Fuchman is essentially portrayed as disturbingly as a Buffalo Bill/John Doe/Martin-From-The-Human-Centipede-Part-II type killer, but in the context of a completely ridiculous, frivolous comedy. It’s intentionally dissonant, and it works realty well, because, like those jokes up above, you probably shouldn’t be laughing at what you’re seeing, but you can’t help yourself.

And that element is not actually the main focus of the film – the comedy is very much centred on the three leads and their complete over-the-topness and how goofy they all are. It’s very well done, and very very funny.

So – objectionable content? This is the only part where light spoilers will appear:

Twink is at one point stated to be 16-years-old by his pimp, but it really comes off more as though the pimp is trying to shame Twink’s customer – part of the joke is that Conor Sweeney, actor portraying Twink, looks significantly older than that.

The rape is objectionable on a thematic purpose alone, but what’s seen in the film is brief, not prolonged or explicit, and mitigated by the comedic tone of the film.

There is a shot that comes seemingly out of nowhere where The Fuchman injects something into the tip of his penis, then cuts it slightly so it bleeds, which he then uses to ritually-mark the captive Chelsea. It’s pretty explicit, although the film is also making a joke out of the obvious usage of a prop phallus, and again, mitigated by the bizarre comedy of the film.

Another scene – is set in hell where a strange grotesque demon, who’s been enslaving Chelsea, is defeated and shrunken down into a smaller version of itself, essentially resembling a demon-baby, which Chelsea then promptly stomps into a gooey, Troma-esque mess. Again – not even remotely played for horror, and mitigated by the comedy.

And finally, and I suspect it may actually be this that got it banned, as the plot turns stranger and more bizarre, an incestuous relationship between Ahab and Chelsea forms. While there is a relatively explicit sex scene between the two (although not pornographically so), it’s entirely played for laughs. The entire point is that the film is so out-of-touch with normality that this kind of makes sense, and it’s lampshaded like hell that you’re laughing at incest – again, because of its impropriety. When it actually occurs the first time, Chelsea is possessed by a demon, and so you’re initially meant to think that it’s funny because he’s so awkward about it afterwards, and that the film is on your side going “incest isn’t right”, but after they save unpossessed-Chelsea from hell, the first thing she does is the big huge romantic kiss…with her brother.

At no single point in time is any of the above meant to be played seriously, and it’s intentionally, ridiculously hilarious, and describing it is probably the biggest disservice I could do the film, except for fucking banning it!

What I’ve listed above is the only content in this film I can see that would push this beyond and R18+ rating, and for that to happen, you have to have had an entire classification board that simply didn’t get the joke. Sadly, that’s probably exactly what happened. They’re admittedly touchy about anything that remotely suggest peadophilia, but the one scene of Twink hustling is so non-explicit and very clearly not performed by an actual minor that I can’t begin to see how that would bring an RC rating down on this movie’s head.

But it’s not like this type of movie is unprecedented – the entire back catalogue of Troma is tonally similar, and nearly all of those films have been allowed. But more to the point, there’s actually considerably more actively offensive stuff out there that’s been permitted. Off the top of my head, Nude Nuns With Big Guns is a similar sort of film that has nowhere near the comedy or sophistication of its execution as Father’s Day does, and is a decidedly nasty little shit of a movie. Father’s Day is certainly off the beaten track of movies, but for the most part, it’s a really light-hearted film, that definitely deserves an R18+ rating.

I can honestly not understand why this was banned, especially in comparison to some of the other things I’ve seen out there that have been permitted. It’s a crying shame, because this film was an absolutely fantastic watch. There’s a definite audience for it, and I doubt there’d be many out there who agree it’s extreme enough to warrant banning.

Maybe the ACB just really has it in for Monster Pictures – they’ve definitely lost a great opportunity here to distribute a film that would’ve become a cult classic. I’m hoping it goes before the review board, because I want to be able to watch this legitimately.

Clicking the link below will take you to a great resource centre if you’d like to protest this.

Infamovies: Hanger (2009)

What’s the deal?: Generally offensive tone and content, Violence, Enforced Abortions, Rape and other Sexual Violence, Crappy Filmmaking.

Hanger

Somewhere between Troma and the grindhouse comes a “film” that makes the Human Centipede 2 look like The Godfather. This utterly pointless experience is called Hanger and it’s a waste of time, money, and I would say effort, but I wouldn’t want to even suggest that effort was put into this.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with Troma films, here’s a very, very brief run down of them:

Troma films are intentionally b-grade (or z-grade) shock, schlock, exploitation films, usually horror films, but the occasional forays into other genres aren’t unheard of. Troma films are intentionally done on the ultra-cheap, and this has become some of their charm. They’re deliberately bad movies, but some are genuinely enjoyable. Troma is the studio responsible for cult classics like Killer Condom and The Class of Nuke ’em High or The Toxic Avenger. Most of these films use an overabundance of cheap special effects to ramp up the surrealism of their scenes, and this chaotic excess of cheap gore and viscera is a certain trademark style these days.

Hanger is not a Troma film, but it wants to be. It’s got the terrible-quality and over-abundance of cheap gore thing down pat, but there’s no sense of it being intentional; there’s no charm to the film, and it’s just tedious. There’s no plot to the film, either. It’s sort of a series of character arcs (but please don’t confuse that as character work) that all happen at once. You could cut this film up in any order and it would make just as much sense.

Plot (if you can call it that)

We open in a seedy room (Motel room? Apartment? Establishing shots don’t exist in this movie) and see two women and a transvestite watching a gory, b-grade horror movie. The transvestite is played by Lloyd Kaufman, owner of Troma Films – I don’t know why he’s in this movie. All three of them are prostitutes, working under the Pimpage of Leroy. One of the women, Rose, is heavily pregnant, despite Leroy’s demands that she “get rid of it.” She also owes him a lot of money which he’s demanding be paid back, and he’s determined that “no one wants to fuck a fat bitch” – though given many of the “fetishes” that are played with in this movie I don’t see why he thinks that. Not to mention that a Google search could set him straight.

Rose goes to meet one of her johns, who’s name is John because the movie is hi-larious like that, and he offers her $20 out of pity and a stuffed bear for the baby. He also lectures her about getting to a shelter and raising the baby, and offers her some money for that. Never mind the fact that she’s a prostitute who’s clearly trapped on the worst rung of life, or the fact that she can’t possibly support herself and a baby, or the fact that he knows that her pimp is out to get her – he thinks it’s a good idea to give her money and kick her out of his truck, rather than, say – drive her away at top speed.

Leroy witnesses this, and then takes matters into his own hand. He takes a wire coat hanger, strikes Rose across the face with it then throws her on a bed and climbs on top of her. Then in extreme close up, we see him perform a coat-hanger-abortion, ripping the baby out and tossing it on the ground – an act that gets its own close up.

Cut to the longest fucking credits sequence ever, and we learn that the baby survived, was taken in by a vagrant, and has been raised as such until his 18th birthday where the plot resumes. Hanger, as he has been sensitively named (it’s like naming a shooting victim Bullet) has grown up severely deformed. John arrives and picks him up, and promises him a new life, but not before running over the vagrant pointlessly.

Now here is where I would describe the rest of the plot, but it’s almost impossible to do, because there’s no plot to speak of, and when the characters do try to speak of it, you can’t hear a goddamn word they’re saying. Stuff just happens in this movie, with no logic, no connection, no sense of tension or story, and not in a “series of vignettes” sort of way. I would honestly not be surprised if the process of the film being made was that the actors turned up, the director chose one of a handful of sets, and then told them to make it up as they went along. I’m not exaggerating; I think that’s what’s happened here.

It seems that John has managed to get Hanger some work at a rubbish dump. Along the way, Hanger meets Russel, a combination of every offensive disability stereotype you can think of, mixed with every offensive Asian stereotype you can think of. He makes Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi look progressive. Russel’s main shtick is that he is 100% addicted to porn and thinks of himself as some stud-in-waiting. Also at the dump is another similarly-disfigured guy, who I’ll call Rapey McGee, as he says that he has no trouble getting laid – once he produces a bottle of DateRapeGenerica from his pocket.

The start of Hanger’s story involves John hiring a prostitute as an 18th Birthday gift to him. Things seem to be going as usual, until Hanger freaks out and rips the girl apart. John and he hide the body, with John complimenting Hanger’s “bloodlust”. This element doesn’t really get followed up on until it’s convenient for the movie to stumble on something it thinks resembles a plot point.

Another story (sort of) involves John getting revenge on Leroy after the murder of Rose. It happens in bits and bobs along the way.

For the most part, the movie lingers on the Hanger story (although with much more time spent on Russel) and it just sort of muddles its way along.

At one point, Rapey McGee decides he’s had enough of Russel and Hanger’s taunting of him, and drugs them, before taking a handful of ErectileEnhancerGenerica and raping Russel.  He then takes a look at Hanger, and pulls up his shirt to see a gaping wound on his stomach (never mentioned before or after this scene) and proceeds to rape said hole. They get their revenge when Hanger knocks him out and nastiness ensues.

I mention this sequence specifically, because it would be a massive moment or series of moments in any other film. Here, it just happens, with no connection to previous scenes, no motivation for it, no consequences after it, and no lingering effect on the characters. It could be placed literally anywhere in the movie and it would still match the other scenes. Also, Russel has the fucking audacity to make a reference to The Warriors, and coming from a film like this, I damn near put my fist through the screen.

At the end of the longest hour and a half you will ever spend in front of a screen, John kills Leroy before being fatally wounded himself, and Hanger runs off into the distance with a screaming woman slung over his shoulder after she called him “baby” which is apparently some trigger for his bloodlust.

REVIEW

Hated it. It’s such a lazy excuse for filmmaking that that’s what I find offensive about it. I realise that the rape, the murder, the grotesqueness, the vilification, the violence, the viscera, and all the other vices of this heap of shit are meant to shock, to offend, to disturb but there’s nothing even remotely close to that. It would be a disturbing film if some fucking effort got put into it – instead I yawned my way through these scenes. I wouldn’t call them provocative, because that suggests some small amount of intelligence. This film is like being trolled by a 10-year-old.

The acting is simply atrocious, from all quarters. There is not a single scene that translates effectively. There is not a single scene that is shot with any sense of composition. The soundtrack for the film, made mostly of metal music that resembles someone selecting a 30 second loop and hitting repeat sounds like someone left a boombox playing on set. The make up effects are somewhat effective, but only in keeping with the rest of the lazy nature of this film.

As for it being banned, while I’m against the abstract act of banning films, this one I can’t get too worked up about. I suppose the censors should have taken into account the lack of realism in any single aspect of the production of this film, and they should seriously have reconsidered banning it, due to the inevitable publicity spike (it’s the only way I heard of the film) but for once I’m going to support the stance that a film’s artistic integrity should be a mitigating factor; there is not a single shred of artistry in this film whatsoever.

Do you remember those kids when you were in very early school, who would play in the mud and have some weird obsession with their own faeces? The kind of kids who would revel in the smell of their own farts and eat/drink the snot out of their noses as it came running down into their mouths? This film is essentially all of those kids in larger bodies with no sense of maturity. It’s about as enjoyable an experience as drinking a glass of pus

It’s not offensive – it could have been, but it’s so boring and ridiculously lazy that it’s hard to get worked up at all. It’s one of those films that has a really dirty, filthy, grimy aesthetic, which again, if it had been intentional might have meant something but it’s not. The film looks like someone crapped all over the characters, and oh yeah – that actually fucking happens at one point!

I know I should be worked up over the banning of the film, and I know it’s slightly hypocritical to care so deeply about some other films getting the RC treatment and being so non-caring about this. I am still against the notion that says “adults should be able to see, read and hear what they want provided we’ve said it’s ok first” but in the case of this particular movie, I’m sorry, but I just can’t care. If it stays banned, we’re not missing that much as a nation.

If you’d like a more comprehensive and in-depth look at the circumstances around it’s banning, visit (the excellent) RefusedClassification.com by clicking on the link below.

War of the Remake: Last House(s) on the Left

Well now, this one’s a doozy to discuss!

Last House on the Left tells the story of a group of bandits (Krug, Weasel, Sadie, as well as Junior, Krug’s son) who abduct, rape and murder two girls (Mari and Phyllis), then seek shelter at a house that just so happens to belong to the parents of one of the girls they killed. The parents find out about their crime, and exact their bloody revenge.

It’s an update of an old Swedish ballad, which was in turn made into a film called The Virgin Spring by Ingmar Bergman in 1960. The ballad and Bergman film both focus on an aspect that the subsequent films ignore – that the parents actions are as equally sinful as the bandits’, and in the end, the father vows to build a church where his daughter’s body was found to atone for his sins. In either version of Last House atonement is never a real concern – the shift from religious significance has become a question of “what would you do to those who hurt your loved ones?”

The 1972 version was Wes Craven’s first feature film, and it stirred up quite the controversy – it almost single-handedly created the Video Nasty list of the 1980s, and was considered one of the most extreme, shocking films to have ever been made (and at the time, that was probably true). This is mirrored in the now infamous marketing for the film, which suggested, “to avoid fainting, keep repeating: it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie…”

The original was one of the first films I discussed in my initial Infamovie run back in 2010, and I stand by my assessment of the film there – it’s every bit as lurid, shocking, violent and depraved as its reputation suggests, but at the same time has some serious intent behind it.

In the (brilliant) documentary The American Nightmare, Craven discusses the influence of the Vietnam War on creating the film. Specifically, he mentions how the shootings at Kent State (where US soldiers fired on students protesting the war) made him suddenly realise that, for the first time in his recollection, America were suddenly the bad guy, that there was “nothing to be trusted in the establishment, but everything to trust in yourself.” And so, it became redundant to make a film about right and wrong, and more poignant for the time to make a film about wrong and wronger.

Thus, Craven remade The Virgin Spring into his grim and despairing film, where all the good in the Collingwood family is stamped out by the actions of other Americans, and by themselves. There is a catharsis for the Collingwood parents when they exact their revenge, but there is no hope – their daughter has been raped and killed, and they’ll most likely go to jail too.

So it seems this would be a perfect film to get redone in the wake of the excessively sadistic horror movies that have perked up over the past decade. Ebert suggests that the horror genre “once tried to scare the audience, but now invites the audience to share the fear and pain of the characters.” While I’d agree with him, I’d say that the original intended to do that long before the remake. I’d also not necessarily say that this is necessarily a bad thing. Horror films used to be about Vincent Price sneaking up on nubile blondes, then we moved into the era of Psycho and later Halloween that try to “scare the audience”. Of course, we’ve now moved into the “sharing the fear and pain” style, and while that means we’ve had some utter crap in the wake of the shift, we’ve also had some brilliant pieces, like Inside or Martyrs.

But regardless of that, I think it’s wrong to expect Last House to be just-another-horror-film. It’s most certainly not the type of film where something jumps out at you, the girls in the audience scream, the guys in the audience pretend they didn’t and then everyone has a laugh. It’s meant to be a portrayal of brutality, of actual horror and not only jump scares. So for the current style of horror films that provide sadism over fun-scares (to varying degrees of success), the remake of Last House actually seems like a perfect fit, bringing a fish-out-of-water film in the 70s into a climate that is much more accepting of the style of film.

And, for what it’s worth, it’s a better film than the original.

Firstly, and it’s an annoying thing to try and compare in these discussions of remakes, it’s better acted. It’s annoying because it seems unfair on the originals to compare such a different style of acting. Films of the 70s tended to be largely hokey affairs, especially on the low-budget end of the spectrum, and the acting matched the overall tone. Now, in the original Last House, there are some good performances, but it’s absolutely drenched in the style of the time. Not so much an issue in the remake.

Also, and again, this is probably an unfair comparison; the remake has the budget to pull of some of the effects much more convincingly. Now, to be fair, one thing the original does exceedingly well is convincing blood – it actually looks like proper blood – but there are scenes of violence that just don’t quite meet the reality as well as the remake. This isn’t to say the original is bad and full of lame effects, but consider the following two scenes.

In the original, Estelle (mother of Mari, the victim) murders Sadie (one of the murderers) while Sadie is in a pool. They’ve had a bit of a struggle before it, and Estelle delivers the coup de grace by slashing Sadie’s throat, after running at her, arms held wide – it actually looks a little silly on it’s own, but in the context of the style of the film, it’s not too dissonant.

In the remake, there’s a scene where Emma (mother) attacks one of the murderers, simply by smashing a wine bottle over his head. It’s not stylised and accidentally-hokey like the original, it’s to-the-point and convincing.

But the difference here – with the lack of budget of the original, you have to make do with what you can – in this case, an obvious stance to showcase the knife in Estelle’s hand, an obvious show of running at Sadie and then an obvious result, as Sadie falls back into the pool clutching her throat.

The remake has the budget to spare on things like fake-glass wine bottles, and so can do something as simple as smashing it over a head with little to no effort expended on the filming of it, and it comes off as much more convincing.

Also, let’s talk about Sadie as a character.

In the original, Sadie is Krug’s woman, and every bit as sadistic as her name would not-so-subtly suggest. She’s every bit as willing in the torture of Mari and Phyllis as Krug and Weasel are, and we’re not invited to sympathise with her at all because she’s just as monstrous as the other two. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (women have the right to be as completely evil as men in films, after all) I do prefer the characterisation of Sadie in the remake, which is surprisingly subtle.

The remake actually opens with a scene that only gets mentioned in the original, in which Sadie and Francis (renamed from Weasel) bust Krug out of a police transport. It’s quite effectively shocking (it’s a jump scare that works because they use it as part of an overall scene, not just a moment on its own). Sadie instantly asks Krug if she “did good” which he doesn’t answer, and we see that she absolutely craves his approval in a dependent way.

Later on, when the three of them are menacing Mari and Paige (renamed from Phyllis) Sadie is an oddly bewitching presence – she’s definitely distinct from Krug and Francis who are almost identical in terms of character, save for Krug being the boss. She plays her words both calm and terrifying, and it makes her infinitely more interesting to watch. Later still, when Krug has raped Mari, there’s this…interesting…moment where she just holds his gaze for a moment, and it invites many interpretations – personally I feel it’s a moment of betrayal for her, as Krug’s flagrantly not caring about her reaction to his “being with” another girl, regardless of how far away from the truth that is. It’s a moment that suggests they’ve gone too far, even by their amoral standards.

This is capitalised on in a final moment, when they shoot Mari as she is swimming to get away. The three criminals look at where her body lies in the lake, and turn away as it starts to rain. Sadie lingers for a moment longer, and as the rain hits her face, her mascara runs – but we don’t know whether or not she’s crying or if it’s just the rain. It’s an admittedly obvious metaphor, but I like it (a similar version with a snowflake occurs in The Rules of Attraction)

And so what of the implications – is it somehow demeaning to make Sadie into a complex character, if her complexity revolves around a) a dependence on a psychopath, and b) the active remorse she may or may not feel, coupled with no action on her part to do anything differently? It might be, but I don’t think it plays too much into her character, certainly not to a point of distraction. Either way, she’s infinitely more interesting to watch than Sadie of the original.

Sadie aside, the characters as a whole get a massive upgrade from the original, where they served more as functions.

The original gives us Mari, a “free-spirit” who’s established as a nice girl, but I actually find to be pretty insipid; Phyllis, who functions as the slightly ballsier of the pair and I actually think is the best character from the original; Krug, Weasel and Sadie who offer little more than “bad guy” status, although Krug is shown to be incredibly cruel; Junior who is an unwilling participant in the crime, but does so because it means Krug feeds his heroin addiction; and John and Estelle, who beyond “loving parents who get their revenge” don’t get much characterisation at all.

Now, bland as the characters may be to describe, the original is still a well-performed (albeit of the style of the time) film, and the characters aren’t uninteresting to watch. They’re believable enough, and your interest is held in the film (if it’s the kind of film you’re interested in seeing) but you can’t really imagine their lives outside of the events that are depicted on screen.

The remake on the other hand does a lot more.

The Collingwoods are given a small amount of backstory, in that their son/brother died recently, and that they’re travelling to their holiday home to try and move on.

This simple change also means 1) The Collingwoods don’t live in the titular house, and so it seems more reasonable that they are so isolated and cut off, whereas the original doesn’t really mention it; 2) that the criminals would seek refuge there, as it’s the only place around for miles, 3) that the criminals would be in that town anyway – they’re on the run from the law, so they’d seek somewhere that’s not too populous, whereas the original shows Mari and Phyllis going into New York City, only to be driven back out to the woods, where the Collingwoods live, which is phenomenally coincidental.

It also means that Mari gets a bit more character to her – she’s reluctantly going on this trip, so she understandably wants to get away from the house (which is why she goes to see Paige) and is more willing to hang around with their new friend Justin (renamed from Junior) than just head home – the Collingwoods’ house is full of painful memories for her, because of her brother.

Paige is also interestingly different – while she’s actually a slightly weaker character than Phyllis, she’s also more believable, because – much as I like Phyllis as a character – she doesn’t really behave like a 17-year-old girl, but more like a 30-year-old’s approximation of what a 17-year-old girl is like. In the remake, she’s much more believably teenaged – not an idiot, like so many movies these days go for, but just not very sensible, and not really thinking about the larger things. Actually, both girls are believable teenagers without being caricatures, and I like that they’re bold and confident, but that the film doesn’t play like they deserve to be punished for that – which many horror films do.

The remake does do her a disservice though, in that once she’s dead killed, she’s forgotten, and it’s all done rather unceremoniously. In the original, possibly served by her being a more interesting character than Mari, her death is genuinely tragic, whereas the remake just kind of kills her and gets onto the Mari-centric story.

Justin is another interesting one. According to the casting call, he’s meant to be 15, but I wouldn’t have realised that without reading it. In the original, Junior lures the girls up to his apartment, purely to let Krug and the others have their demented fun with them. He doesn’t want the girls to suffer, but he needs his fix, so he does it anyway. Justin, on the other hand, is shown to be a lonely kid, who’s very shy as a result of Krug’s fathering technique, which we can understand to be less than parent-of-the-year material. He invites the girls back to the motel room they’ve holed up in, assuming that Krug, Francis and Sadie won’t be back for a while. He enjoys their company, and so it’s not an active ensnaring of the girls. The cruel irony of this is pointed out when the others do return; Krug specifically mentions the girls would have been fine had Justin not brought them back, but now that they’ve been found out it’s too much of a liability to let them live. When Francis and Krug are torturing the girls in the woods, Krug also abuses Justin by belittling him, calling out his supposed lack of masculinity, and – most significantly – forcing him to watch. Overall, it’s a much more complex system of abuse from father to son than just holding him prisoner with his heroin addiction.

John and Emma are also better served in the remake, as they have more to work with than a simple, “We are loving parents. Now we want revenge,” motivation. I like that they’re shown to have differing parental styles (John is more relaxed, Emma is more concerned) and I like that when Mari gets home after her vicious assault, they are both horrified and upset, not just instant rage monsters which seems to happen in the original. I also found it quite interesting that the film includes moments like John discovering that Mari has been raped (as a doctor, he’s pragmatically searching her body for further wounds) and how he’s affected even more so on top of his near-death daughter on his coffee table, or that Emma finds the pendant Mari was wearing in the kitchen that Justin left to tip her off as to what his father had done, and that she has a mini-breakdown realising that they’ve just sheltered the same people who did this to their daughter. They’re small moments, but they’re real, and they’re another clue that the film is smarter than a lot of other horror films of recent times.

This intelligence is also seen in the very wise decision to completely excise the bumbling cops of the original. When I first saw the original, I had no idea why they included such tonally opposite scenes with two cops fumbling and bumbling their way through such a disturbing movie. I later read a theory that suggests they were the purest form of comic relief, and that they were there to break up the brutality of the movie. If that’s the case, it makes some sort of sense, but these days it’s a massive case of mood whiplash and oddly makes the film a little more disturbing. They’re not present in the remake, which means the film has a consistent tone, and this makes it easier to take the film seriously.

It’s also very well shot, and the cinematography is quite striking in some cases, particularly as Mari is running away from the criminals – there’s a very controlled and stylish use of slow motion, which coupled with a surprisingly lush score makes the scene very effective.

I also like that the film handles the Mobile Phone Quandary cleverly and contextually – when Mari and Paige are first being intimidated in the motel room, Paige runs into the bathroom and locks herself in. The first thing she does is to whip out her phone and try to call the police, but is hampered by 1) being terrified, 2) trying to escape through a window that she can’t get out of, and 3) the fact that the film has established there’s dodgy reception in the area. Note – dodgy reception, as many rural areas suffer, not the age-old “we’re in a dead zone” that so many movies use to their convenience. So kudos for that. Then, once Francis breaks into the bathroom, he smashes her phone, and immediately takes Mari’s – it makes sense and is believable.

There is one major misfire in the remake, and that’s how the film ends – specifically an added scene where John puts the still-alive Krug’s head in a microwave, which eventually explodes. The head, that is – not the microwave. It seems tacky and out-of-tone with the rest of the movie, which is surprisingly straight-faced about its violence. I only mention it because it’s the last shot of the movie, and it means your final impression of it is something that’s a bit ridiculous, and damaging to it’s credibility.

So – final verdict time:

The original is still a good film. It’s clearly a product of its time and budget, which may mean it’s unfairly outdone by its wealthier remake, but the simple fact is that in this particular instance, more money = more quality. The original is, however, still a grisly and disturbing movie, and it has that raw and vibrant energy that so many movies of the 70s have, which is missing in the remake.

The remake on the other hand, is a better acted, better made film that follows the footsteps of Dawn of the Dead in remaking a film, sticking to the original without merely re-treading, and adding in enough new material that it’s got its own identity without being an entirely different beast.

I think the remake is a better film, but I think the original is a good film too. Both are worth seeing, neither is easy viewing, but neither version is a tawdry, perverted film like the remake of I Spit on Your Grave turned out to be.

One final note – the remake does something that the original fails to do, in making sure that the house they show is actually on the LEFT of the road!

Infamovies: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

What’s the deal?

Violence, animal cruelty,

Still banned?

Wasn’t ever, really…sort of.

Background:

In the midst of what Wikipedia tells me is called the “Cannibal Boom”, Umberto Lenzi released his Cannibal Ferox. It was initially dismissed as little more than a direct rip-off of Cannibal Holocaust (which I agree with) but Lenzi himself had actually kick-started the boom with 1972’s The Man From Deep River. That film had taken the very basic conventions of what would become the cannibal genre (exotic locales, different culture, bloody violence) and turned them into the framework of the slew of gritty cannibalistic films to follow.

Now that being said, it’s a bit hard to not see how much this ticks off a list of things that Cannibal Holocaust did first, and did better – not that I have much love for either film, but Cannibal Holocaust somehow manages to seem classier about its schlock.

The film is officially titled Cannibal Ferox, but there’s also plenty of advertising material that had it named Make Them Die Slowly! – hilariously, when they decided to rerelease the film with the Ferox title, they just posted that on old posters, turning the original Make Them Die Slowly! title into a tagline

OFLC

And first a note here – I’ve had a few emails regarding my continuing usage of the acronym OFLC – I’m well aware that the Office of Film and Literature Classification has become the Australian Classification Board, but given that most of the films I started writing about had problems with the censors when they were the OFLC, that’s what’s stuck.

Now – an interesting case here – Cannibal Ferox was never specifically banned in Australia. It was initially released as The Woman From Deep River to cash in on the success of Lenzi’s first film, and the distributors pre-cut much of the footage before submitting it to the censors.

However, attempts at importing uncut versions of the film were often met with customs seizing the product and forwarding it on to relevant bodies, such as the police or OFLC themselves.

It was re-released on DVD in 2005 in its uncut form, and proudly bandied about its “BANNED IN 31 COUNTRIES” tagline – a fact which many have pointed out has never been confirmed.

So – officially never banned, but not officially allowed in its complete form until 2005, though there was never any specific censor ruling that said that its uncut form was unacceptable.

PLOT

You’ll often read in reviews of Cannibal Holocaust that its theme music is eerily peaceful and light-hearted in contrast to what will follow. Well, Cannibal Ferox’s theme is similarly dissonant – if you decide to score your early 80s cannibal film with the highest quality porn soundtrack around.

But we go through quite a lengthy opening scene of footage of New York, wherein we follow a dishevelled looking young man as he tries to find an apartment. When he does eventually find it, he is greeted by two mobsters who are also looking for the apartment’s occupant, Mike. Turns out that Mike skipped town with $100 000, pissing off the mobsters and leaving our dishevelled fella with no supply of heroin. The mobsters beat Mr Dishevelled up and then shoot him.

We spend a good 5 minutes watching him walk around New York, only for him to be shot. Bye!

The police arrive, headed by Lt. Rizzo, (Robert Kerman, because Ferox needs to even steal Holocaust’s actors – even down to his outfit) and he investigates, noting that they need to find Mike’s girlfriend.

Okay, good little police-procedural setup. They’ll probably head into the jungle to find Mike, and then get set upon by the titular cannibals, right? Yeah, the police don’t turn up again for another 42 minutes.

Onto the actual plot!

We meet Gloria, Rudy, and Pam, as they arrive in [insert South American nation that’s obviously less civilised than the USA here]. Gloria has arrived to prove a theory in her thesis, that cannibalism doesn’t exist and in fact never has. Never mind that there is no possible way to prove this theory by taking one visit to one nation, Gloria’s got her mind set on it.

L-R: Rudy, Pam, Gloria

This functions as the slightly nicer version of the film crew from Cannibal Holocaust. Gloria, Rudy, and Pam are inherently nicer people than Holocaust’s band of arseholes, but the whole impetus of the plot is “people used to comfortable life in the US being thrust into the jungle as a way of affronting their hubris.” In Holocaust their hubris is to assume that they’re a more powerful people who can exploit the natives, in Ferox it’s that they’re a more educated people who know more about the natives than the natives do themselves.

Rudy, Gloria’s brother, goes along to look after his sister, and Pam, the token air-headed blonde, goes along under the false pretence of the expedition being a vacation. They arrive in their faceless location (well, they’re in Paraguay but it just functions the same way as setting the movie in “THE JUNGLE”) and attempt to get someone to take them to a remote village, but not before Pam has sex with a lecherous guard in order to use his shower. And that’s pretty much Pam’s characterisation – blonde with big breasts who has sex at the drop of a hat.

I suspect having sex with this guy to have a shower would leave you still feeling unclean.

They get taken on a boat ride further into the jungle – while the score plays this hilariously melodramatic music over mundane footage of not much happening. Pam asks what it is exactly they’re doing here and Gloria explains the crux of her thesis. It includes such obvious excuse-plotting that the dialogue becomes hilarious. Pam playfully suggests that Gloria invented the village in her mind – Gloria shows her a newspaper article that mentions cannibalism being witnessed along the river, near the village they’re heading towards. Pam shrugs off this proof with “oh you can’t believe everything you read.” Furthermore, despite Gloria having a newspaper article that confirms the existence of cannibalism – she still decides she can prove it never existed by having a quick look around the jungle…but I’ll at least give them some brownie points for justifying her position, that the idea of the ferocious cannibal was made up by the conquistadors to justify their cruelty. But I’ll also point out that this line exists to justify dropping the term “Cannibal Ferox” into conversation so that the movie can justify having a cool name. For the record, Ferox is a Latin word that means “fierce.” Also on this boat ride, one of the locals captures an enormous butterfly – then eats it. Yeah…this movie has a lot of animals dying on screen.

As they venture into the jungle, their car gets bogged down and there’s a surprisingly lengthy scene (for what it entails) involving them getting the car moving again, only for it to get stranded (almost) immediately afterwards. So after this pointless diversion, they set off on foot. Along the way, they come across a native, calmly sitting down, eating grubs off a leaf – you know, the same way all cannibals do – but it’s really just an excuse to have some more animal death, even if said animal is only a grub or two. The native is also covered in facial tumours that look all bloody and pus-oozing – it’s pretty foul. Gloria suggests they get out of there as she has a “bad feeling” and she’s right – as they leave they pass by some trees where a group of the tribesmen are standing with their blowpipes.

Then comes the worst scene of the movie – on the boat, they were given a mongoose to help fight off any snakes they come across. When they camp for the night, they leash it to a stake near where they’re sleeping. Along comes an anaconda and proceeds to kill the mongoose. Now, in reality, what’s happened is that the filmmakers have shot footage of an anaconda killing a mongoose that they’ve tied down purely for the scene. They intercut it in the film with shots of the characters (clearly filmed elsewhere) saying “oh no” and “poor little thing.” We even get a shot of Gloria wanting to save it but Rudy lamenting that “there’s nothing we can do now” – even though there was clearly enough time for him to take that machete and kill the snake. Their sorrow for the mongoose doesn’t make it any more palatable to see a small animal – tied down and trying desperately to escape, watch with palpable fear as a giant snake comes along and starts killing it – slowly. You hear the mongoose screaming and yelping pitifully from the second it sees the anaconda, all the way to the point where it finally dies – bleeding from the neck, being wrapped up in the various coils of the snake and suffering all the while. You can also see the mongoose looking at the film crew with absolute fear and terror in its eyes. And then its over and the film continues with no reason for having needed that shot.

As the trio continues through the jungle, they hear the pained cries of someone in the distance, and come across two villagers who have met their ends at the end of a booby trap.

The guy on the ground is visibly breathing throughout this scene.

Pam rightfully freaks out at the sight of it and wants to turn back, while Gloria tells her to calm down because she’ll “only make it worse!” Pam is still hysterical, so Rudy comes along and gives her the old “slap of calming” – but it’s inadvertently hilarious. The sound crew on this film were clearly baked while they worked on it, and the sound effect they’ve dubbed in for each time Rudy hits her sounds like a quick explosion.

It’s here that they come across Mike and Joe. Remember Mike? The guy whose disappearance opens the film? There’s absolutely no reason they couldn’t have just opened the film in the jungle, but hey, Cannibal Holocaust had scenes in New York at the start of it, so why not Ferox?

Mike and his accomplice Joe explain that they’re on the run from the cannibal villagers, after said villagers killed and murdered their guide – they tell the trio that they were looking for emeralds, as their tour guide told them where they could find some, before he met his grisly demise. Joe is badly wounded (which they convey by putting a bandage around his knee) so the trio agrees to help them, but not before we get some character development of Mike – from beginning to end, he’s a bastard who loves cocaine, and that’s all you need to know. They rest up for the night but in the morning find Gloria gone. They split up to search for her. Joe and Rudy come across the village, and while Rudy wants to go in and find Gloria, Joe begs him not to because they’ll kill him – I’ll point out that at this point, Rudy has no reason to not believe Joe on that claim.  As Rudy looks around the village, he comes across the burned body of Joe and Mike’s tour guide – and I don’t know if it was intentional, but the body looks like a gory version of the Venus de Milo.

Rudy also comes across some villagers, but they’re all very passive, and mainly old people. Elsewhere, Pam and Mike forage through the jungle, watch as a jaguar eats a monkey, then come across Gloria stuck in a small pit being menaced by a pig. And literally – a small pit, and a pig – not a wild boar or anything, just a pig rolling in the mud. Mike jumps down and stabs it – again, killing a creature on screen – before they all regroup in the village. Rudy is puzzled, as to why the younger villagers have all left, and why the older ones left behind react in fear if they go near them. He even delivers the most subtle of all subtle lines – “THEY SEEM SCARED OF US…AS IF WE WERE GOING TO DO SOMETHING TO THEM, WHEN REALLY IT SHOULD BE THE OTHER WAY AROUND” – keep in mind Mike’s questionable character and Rudy’s constant questioning of his story, and it almost seems like Mike’s a bit untrustworthy!

They all decide they’ve seen enough and want to leave, when Joe conveniently collapses, getting sicker from his wounds. Mike chivalrously suggests they abandon Joe in the village, but Gloria insists they stay. Mike puts in a caveat that if the younger cannibals come back, they all kill themselves to spare the horrors of being eaten.

Next, after a snake is dropped onto the ground by the filmmakers so it can be eaten by an iguana, we see Mike and Pam having coke-fuelled sex. In their drug craze, they then go and capture a native boy and girl – Mike tries to persuade Pam to cut the girl up, but she can’t do it. As the girl tries to run away, Mike shoots her, before getting into a fight with Rudy who arrives on scene. Pam gets the native boy to flee. This plot point is wrapped up when Joe has a relapse and looks to be close to dying – Pam and Mike go to look for a plant that can help reduce his fever, while Gloria and Rudy tend to him. We pause briefly to see a large tortoise being hacked up and fried by the natives, before cutting back to Joe on his deathbed.

He comes clean and drops the amazing twist – that Mike is as much of a bastard as we already know him to be. Joe and Mike ripped off the mob in New York and fled into the jungle. There they met one of the villagers, who showed them a few emeralds. They followed him back to the village, intending to rip him off, but in the end exploited the villagers as slave labour in the search for more emeralds.

After a while, Mike got fed up with the situation and tied their guide to a pole, before torturing, castrating, and eventually burning him, as well as killing another villager. This – understandably – pissed off the villagers, and they decided to get their revenge. The duo decided to try and leave, with the help of a kidnapped villager to show them through the jungle, but she fell foul of the booby trap we saw earlier in the film, and a village charged at Joe with his spear, wounding him, before Mike killed him. The two then made it a small way before Gloria, Pam and Rudy came across them, and end flashback. Gloria and Rudy try to find Mike and Pam, but it turns out that they’ve run off with all of Gloria’s supplies, leaving her and Rudy to die in the village.

BACK IN NEW YORK!!!!

 

I’ve only titled it like that, because the way the films smash-cuts back into New York, with a blare of the pseudo-porn music is enough to give someone whiplash. Back in New York, Lt. Rizzo tries to track down Mike’s girlfriend.

He does.

She tells him she doesn’t know where Mike is, but Rizzo puts a police tail on her.

BACK IN THE JUNGLE:

Rudy and Gloria agree to bury the now-dead Joe before escaping, but they come across:

A ROTTEN PAPAYA ON A STICK

 

Apparently it’s a bad omen, but they treat it the same way as the horse’s head in The Godfather and it’s hard to take seriously. But rotten papaya = they’re fucked.

Rudy and Gloria hide as three young villagers come back. They drag Joe’s body outside, split it open and eat his intestines…before walking off. Rudy and Gloria escape into the jungle, but are set upon and captured by the angry natives, who’ve also captured Pam and Mike.

They lock Rudy, Pam and Gloria in a cage (where Pam gets bitten by a leech) and proceed to tie Mike to a pole, before castrating him and eating his genitals.

BACK IN NEW YORK!!!!

Also, the mobsters try to track down Mike’s girlfriend.

They do.

She tells them she doesn’t know where Mike is, but Rizzo’s police tail chases them off before they kill her.

Lt Rizzo and Mike’s girlfriend agree to go to THE JUNGLE to try and find Mike.

END NEW YORK SUBPLOT.
IT WAS DEFINITELY NOT INCLUDED TO PAD THE FILM’S LENGTH, OR BECAUSE CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST ALSO HAD A SUBPLOT IN NEW YORK.

 

Back in the jungle, the villagers take Rudy, Pam, Gloria and a cauterised-Mike to a village upstream, to kill them some more. Gloria hopes a search party will come across her credit-card and necklace which she dropped in the previous village and be able to find them – but we’re immediately shown the villagers playing around with said objects, which I admit made me laugh like I think it’s supposed to.

When they dock at the new village, Rudy tries to make a break for it to get help, but ends up hiding in a lake where piranhas start eating from an open wound on his leg, forcing him back on shore, where the cannibals kill him.

They throw Pam and Gloria in an admittedly-inventive little set piece – it’s essentially an above-ground oubliette which the villagers have built as a mound with a door on top. Mike is put in a regular pit in the ground.

Gloria has a nice “explicitly state the film’s message” moment where she says that they’re not so different from the cannibals, and that human nature is savage and blah, blah, blah – we’ve heard it all before, not least of all in FUCKING CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST!

Rudy is implied to have been gutted, as a random piece of choice meat is lowered into Gloria and Pam, but they don’t eat it. They instead choose to sing a song to calm their nerves.

The cannibals gut a crocodile and munch on it, before retiring for the night. In the night, Mike digs his way out of his pit and kills the cannibal who should be guarding him.

The villager from before, who Pam told to flee when Mike killed his girlfriend, tries to help Pam and Gloria escape by lowering them a rope, but Mike chases him off, and cuts the rope, leaving the two women behind. He tries to flee into the jungle but ends up getting captured again. The natives cut off his hand and take him back to the village.

Pam and Gloria are brought out of their prison. Pam is stripped shirtless, before having large hooks shoved through her breasts, from which she is then suspended and left to die. And yes, this is Ferox’s answer to the impaled-body scene from Holocaust.

Elsewhere, Mike’s girlfriend arrives in the jungle with a small search party, only to be greeted by the natives, who tell them that the five Americans were in a canoe which capsized and were all eaten by crocodiles.

Back in the village, Mike gets put underneath a table with a nice skull-shaped hole in the top, and they proceed to slice open his skull and feast on his brains. Pam dies from her wounds. The native who tried to help them escape before sets Gloria free, and the two escape into the jungle, but it isn’t too long until this happens:

Gloria leaves him to die, escapes the jungle (with the help of poachers, no less), heads back to New York, hands in her thesis and is shown to have gone along with the “got eaten by crocodiles” myth as she feels so much guilt about the treatment of the cannibals. She also sticks with her original statement that cannibalism does not exist.

And that’s where the film ends!

Review

Hmmm. Didn’t like it, didn’t hate it. It’s certainly clear that this is just riffing off the previous success of Cannibal Holocaust, but it must be said that there is some small amount of inventiveness. Having the Americans be divided into good and bad characters works a little more to show that good people have to suffer for bad people’s actions, but meh – it’s not that dissimilar a point to make.

The film is not as nasty as Cannibal Holocaust – it’s not quite as mean spirited, and the complete absence of rape is a very welcome change in an exploitation movie. While it definitely plays as a cheap knockoff of Holocaust, it doesn’t match the good qualities that Holocaust had.

It also manages the impossible task of contextualising the animal cruelty in Cannibal Holocaust – I wrote in my review of that film that it was pointless and unnecessary – I agree with that still, but at the same time, it showed the characters being cruel to everything around them, and therefore reinforces their characters as bastards. In Ferox it’s thrown in for the sake of having animal cruelty in the film – which admittedly many of the distributors of cannibal films insisted on putting in – but it’s still entirely pointless. Other than Mike killing the pig (proves he’s a psycho) and the natives killing the animals for their food (gross but makes sense in context) the animal slaughter in this film is just a series of events where the filmmakers put two animals together and filmed the fight. I didn’t even mention all of the animal cruelty in this film, but there’s a lot of it, and I have to admit – the scene with the mongoose made me want to cry. It’s just cruel and nasty, and out of tone with the rest of the movie.

Not as bad as watching a mongoose die…

The film is also often unintentionally hilarious – the sound crew repeat the same sound effect for repeated movements hilariously. When Mr Dishevelled walks up a flight of stairs at the start of the film, each footstep is identical. When characters get punched or slapped, it’s an identical sound each time. And oh lord the dubbing – I can only assume that it’s not the original actors voicing themselves, but good GOD is it poorly matched. If it wasn’t for the animal cruelty, this movie would be largely a comedy.

And there I suppose is the ultimate summation of this movie. It’s quite poorly made, and even though it’s trying to copy Cannibal Holocaust, it’s just not ultimately that upsetting. Sure there’s some gory parts, and the animal cruelty is horrible to watch, but the rest of the movie just isn’t that horrendous an experience. It’s not disturbing, it’s not horrifying, and perhaps the biggest crime of all, it’s not particularly interesting.

Understandably (sort-of) banned? 

Like I said before, it was never the decision of the OFLC to ban the film – the censors pre-cut material before submitting it for a rating. That said, with the uncut versions of the film being confiscated by customs, I suppose we can still treat it the same way.

So I’ll say, with all the animal cruelty, yes, I can see why it was banned. Uncut with the film’s horror-violence…well, for the time, yes it’s easy to see why it would be banned, but in the modern light of horror films, while it’s not necessarily tame, the effects are pretty unsophisticated.

Understandable for the time, but there’s no real reason why it shouldn’t be released uncut today – which it has been.

Go HERE  to see what was removed from the film back in the day

Overall 

The animal cruelty is upsetting, but the rest of the film is a cheap imitation of Cannibal Holocaust which gives an overall “meh” response. Worth seeing for the curious though.

ONE MORE THING:

I’m including this trailer to show what I meant about the sound effects – but it is also a SERIOUSLY NSFW trailer, and I would advise only watching it if you’re 18 years old. It makes the film look a lot nastier than it is – and when she says “we’re saving the best bits for you” – she’s referring to the animal cruelty. Pretty much all of the money-shot violence in the film is included here. But enjoy the sound effects of people being hit!

Infamovies: The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence

What’s the deal?

Let’s see…rape, murder, violence, sexual aberration, coprophagia, infanticide,

Still banned?

The uncut version, yes.

Background:

Well, read all about my thoughts on the first film here. I stand by that assessment – Part I is a dull film that exists solely because of its reputation, and it offers nothing up to balance its infamy, save for a gross premise.

Following the release and success of the first film, director Tom Six was able to get a sequel greenlit. Much of the film remained shrouded in mystery save for a statement from Six saying it would “make the first film look like My Little Pony.”

It then became a high profile film when the BBFC banned the film outright, handing down one of the most severe deliberations they’ve ever given – and given that this is the same nation responsible for the Video Nasty debacle in 1984, that’s saying something!  They even stated they wouldn’t consider the film again, as  “no amount of cuts would allow them to give it a certificate”

However, it did eventually get a release, with 32 cuts made to the film. Following this frenzy, and the film being cut for release in the US, it was quite surprising when the Classification Board passed the film uncut. It was extensively marketed as such, making its notoriety in other countries an absolute selling point for the film. Check the trailer below for an example.

OFLC

This marketing of course brought about the attention of “concerned” groups who in reality are only concerned about having a political edge to the proceedings. I’ll go into this more later, but the film got brought before the review board after complaints from a group called Family Voice Australia, and also Collective Shout, the harridans responsible for the banning of A Serbian Film.

After the incredibly non-representative (three conservative middle-aged women does not a nation get fairly represented by!) review board banned the film in a unanimous decision, it was once again classified with an R18+ rating, with cuts made to the film as I’ve detailed below.

This censored version was released on DVD and BluRay on the 23rd of February this year.

PLOT

The film opens with the end of the first film. It then goes on to show the credits of that film, and we quickly come to understand that in the universe of Part 2, the first film is actually fictional.

We’re then introduced to our lead character Martin, who is watching the film. Martin, it turns out, is a very, very disturbed young man – theories differ as to the level of his mental capacity, with many often lumping him under the “mentally retarded” umbrella term. For specifics, I think it’s most likely that he is a grown man with the maturity of a small child.

 

Martin works in a parking garage, and his little to do all day but watch The Human Centipede. For added fun, he’s also become sexually obsessed with the film, and rewinds it as soon as it finishes. He comes across a couple arguing in the garage, and after the male of the couple is needlessly rude and horrible to him, proceeds to hit them on the head with a crowbar. He also stashes them in the back of his car, along with another random person.

When he’s not at work he lives with his abusive mother – a woman who clearly states her hatred of him, and blames him for his father leaving her. For the record, his father is in prison for sexually abusing him, something the mother clearly knows. But yeah, we get that Martin has not been traditionally raised, and it certainly doesn’t help that his psychiatrist wants to rape him. We learn that within 5 minutes of seeing him on screen.

It’s about this point that you realise that everyone in this movie is a horrible character. Well, all the male characters anyway, as they’re the ones who are given one or two lines to attempt to establish some semblance of character. Martin’s mother aside, it seems like the women of the cast are meant to be 1% more likeable than their dickish counterparts.

…actually you know what, there’s no point going over the ins and outs of the plot. Quick Summary Time!


Martin grows so obsessed with the first film he decides to create a 12 person version of the centipede. He spends the first third of the movie coming across people to abduct and abducting them. He also kills his mother once she rips up his scrapbook of highlights from the first film, and shoots his psychiatrist in the junk, and then the head.

He also arranges to have Ashlyn Yennie, who played Jenny in the first film, arrive under the false pretence of an audition for Quentin Tarantino, and stitch her on as the front of his centipede. In addition to her, he creates his centipede out of the following characters: Candy, Karrie, Paul, Ian, Dick, Greg, Tim, Valerie, Kim, and Rachel. I’ll leave it up to you to assign those names to faces as the film gives you NO ability to know who is whom, with the exception of “Miss Yennie”.

Once he kidnaps his victims, he kills his mother before moving into his warehouse to complete his creation. Unlike the first film where a surgeon was able to create his centipede, here Martin has significantly less capability, and only a staple gun and gaffer tape. He creates his centipede, rapes the girl at the rear with barbed wire wrapped around his penis, and then loses it once the centipede becomes two halves and start wondering around separately. Also, one of his victims, a pregnant woman, escapes and run outside to a car – she gives birth in the driver’s seat, and once the car starts, proceeds to crush the baby’s head with the accelerator. She gets away, but Martin kills the rest of them all, but not before Ashlyn Yennie gets the chance to shove a funnel up his arse and drop his pet centipede in it (an actual one, not a human one).

The film closes on Martin, back at the parking garage, having apparently imagined it all.

REVIEW

I’m in a thousand different minds about this film. As much as possible I’ll try to talk about it as a film first, and then the controversy surrounding it.

It is a better film than the first. Stuff actually happens in this one. Furthermore, when people heard the premise of the first film and imagined some monstrosity of a film that couldn’t possibly exist – well that’s actually pretty much this film.

Also, in addition to the horrible premise, this film has a lot being said subtextually. First and foremost, it’s a pretty obvious satire on critics who have decried controversial films for fear of copycatting. The entire premise of this film is seeing someone decide to copy The Human Centipede and seeing just what a ludicrous and over the top notion that is. While I think the filmmakers want their audience to be shocked and disturbed, I don’t think for a moment they were trying to pass this off as realistic. It makes it even more hilarious that the BBFC banned the film for fear of people copying the second film.

I also think it’s making a statement about censorship, as this is a film that’s clearly trying as hard as it possibly can to be controversial. It’s a more controlled film than the first – one doesn’t get that immediate impression of Tom Six wanting you to run out and tell people about this film so that they’ll see it – I’m sure he wants that to happen, but it’s also a movie that actually bothers to tell a story.

There’s also a lot of black comedy in this flick, and there are some moments where I genuinely laughed out loud.

Now having said all that, do I think it’s a good film? Well, no, simply, I don’t. Laurence Harvey as Martin gives a very brave performance, and is certainly willing to forgo any dignity in creating the character, and I will say he is successful in this. Having a mute, socially blind, some-level-of-mentally-disabled character as your main character and still making him interesting to watch is quite a feat.

As for the rest of the cast…there’s no attempt to make actual characters out of the rest of them. I get why the film did that, and in that regard it kind of works (the audience ends up seeing them as objects and means to an end, the same way Martin does) but it also means we don’t care about any of them. We can feel bad for them but there’s no investment in them as characters.

And then having said all that, I have to acknowledge that this is very much a film with a niche audience, and I’m not a particular part of that niche. From a film like The Human Centipede Part 2, no one expects any artistry or cleverness. To find it there is quite refreshing, but at the end of the day, it’s a film designed to shock and disturb. It’s as much a stunt film as the first one, but it’s definitely a better film. Perhaps better is the wrong word. It’s less frustrating than the first, because its bite is just as bad as its bark.

Understandably Banned?

Not really. I can see why it’s controversial, but I’m of the opinion that this film could be accommodated within the R18+ category uncut. The film is in black and white which serves to mitigate a lot of the violence (well, black and white and brown, but I’ll leave it up to you to discover where those splashes of colour enter the film). Furthermore it’s a black comedy, and that was good enough to mitigate The Loved Ones’ violence down to an MA15+, so it should’ve been taken into consideration here. But read on for more thoughts.

THE BANNING CONTROVERSY

For any Australians out there who are wondering just what it is we’re missing out on, I can tell you that I’ve watched both films side by side, and there’s not actually all that much!

At 28:20, a 2-second shot of Martin’s penis wrapped in sandpaper as he masturbates has been excised (though not the scene, or preliminary shots of him wrapping his penis up – just the shot of it in motion).

At 1:13:47 and 1:13:55 a total of 8 seconds has been removed (1 second, and a 7 second shot) showing Martin’s penis wrapped in barbed wire before the rape.

From 1:14:00 until 1:15:09 around 20 seconds has been removed at various points from the rape scene – I started making notes of each individual shot but lost the syncing of the two version of the film playing. From what I did note, the removed shots were mainly of Martin thrusting, with less emphasis added on the victims’ suffering.

Surprisingly, the shot of the baby being crushed under the accelerator remains completely intact – I’d expected to see that excised.

So all in all, only about 30 seconds removed. Again, I’m in two minds about this. Part of me wants to chalk it up as “it’s only 30 seconds.” It’s significantly less removed from the film than the British cut, which I’ve also seen. The censored Australian cut is still a brutal and harrowing experience, and while it’s not as “intact” as the uncut version, it’s a very similar experience. I can guarantee you that the censored British cut is a noticeably milder viewing experience.

Then part of me says, “Well what was the point of that? It’s only 30 seconds!” which brings me up to my rant point.

Family Voice Australia submitted their complaint on the film based solely off the BBFC report and word of mouth. They never saw the film. I find this unforgivable. It’s one thing to find a film so contentious you decry it until it’s banned, but it’s quite another if you’ve never seen the movie in question. Say what you will about Collective Shout (no really – say whatever you want) but at least they had the decency to actually see A Serbian Film before they campaigned against it.

As I see it, this is proof that these “concerned” groups are really using the successful banning of films as political stepping stones, to have as something under their belt for proof of their worth to conservative voters.

The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence was never a film made for families, and to suggest that it might inspire copycat crimes is utterly misguided and hilarious given that an actual viewing of the film makes that notion so obviously a part of its satire. FAVA had not seen the film, and clearly had no context about it before they called for its banning.

All they’ve accomplished, in addition to gaining another notch in their political belt, is the removal of 30 seconds of film that makes the viewing experience not that dissimilar from the uncut version, only at significant expense to Monster Pictures. It’s almost like FAVA saw the ads bragging about it being released uncut and thought “we’ll see about that!” It was a pointless waste of time that withholds money from Monster Pictures.

The clearly noticeable difference from the Australian cut and the uncut version is the length of the rape scene – for the record, the short shots of Martin’s barbed-wired penis don’t remove the barbed wire from the entire film – we still see him holding it and picking it up right before the act, so it’s not like removing those shots make us think this is a normal acceptable rape that’s safe for children to witness. Removing a handful of shots from the rape scene does shorten its length, but to no real avail – it’s still disturbing and the character at the rear is still clearly meant to be torn apart internally with each thrust so all it means is that her screams are silenced a little earlier than in the uncut version. As far as I see it, rape scenes should be left intact in film, as it means that we can hold the filmmakers accountable if they’re mishandled. There’s no grey area of a censor saying, “This is an acceptable amount of rape. We are satisfied,”, nor is there the capacity for an inexcusable rape scene to be defended with “Ah, but in the uncut version…”

But you know the greatest idiocy of all of this? Moreso than usual, banning the uncut version of the film has done nothing to stop it being made readily available to Australians.

Click the picture below, and you’ll find the access point to Bounty Film’s website, where the film is available in its uncut form without having to resort to torrenting. I’ll cover my arse here and say I’m not condoning the active violation of a pointless and condescending law, merely proving a point that it’s entirely possible to circumvent the censors for as little as $14.99. I’m definitely not suggesting that viewers who want to see the uncut version. should break the law by following the download link which will provide you access to a versatile .mp4 file with incredible ease. Definitely not.

 

One final thing and I’ll wrap this up:

It’s all well and good to sit here and bitch and moan about the state of things being banned in Australia, but 90% of the time, the reason they’re banned is because of vocal conservative groups making strong efforts to decry a film. It’s just as easy to become a vocal group against the banning of film.

So follow the link below to my absolute Mecca of censorship information, and the great access points to enable your protesting if you’re as passionate about it as I am.