Inside the Deranged Mind of Tom Six


Writer-director talks about The Human Centipede

Human centipede. The pairing of those words conjure up a cartoonish visage, or perhaps some strange amalgamation of foam rubber, make-up and an actor in a Troma for Frank Henenlotter flick. Neither of those remotely touches what writer-director Tom Six came up with for The Human Centipede (First Sequence), a horror film festival favorite that IFC Films is rolling out on VOD and into theaters beginning April 30.

In the film, actor Dieter Laser essays the role of a deranged surgeon lamenting the demise of his beloved dogs, test subject of a bizarre experiment, and eager to begin his studies anew with humans. His ultimate goal: To graft three people end to end to create a biological oddity. He kidnaps two travelers (Ashley Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) who intends to fuse with a young man (Akihiro Kitamur) to create the eponymous being.

Sick, peculiar stuff – no doubt about that.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is bound to elicit the most divisive audience opinions of 2010. A week out of its release, we spoke with Six to learn where this idea came from.

Shock Till You Drop: Congrats on the theatrical release. How difficult was it to find an American distributor?

Tom Six: After winning a few festival awards there was a lot of buzz about the film. So we were approached by different distributors who were interested in the film – I was happy with that, of course. IFC had the intention to put it in theaters which was very cool.

Shock: Did you find, during that process, that some potential distributors wanted to edit the film before they released it?

Six: No, strangely enough, no one mentioned cutting things out. It’s difficult for censors to edit this movie because a lot of stuff is in your head. You don’t see a lot on the screen. What could you cut out?

Shock: That’s the most surprising aspect about the film. I went in expecting a gross-out flick, so can you talk about the beginnings of the film and your general approach?

Six: The idea was simple. I would make a sick joke to my friends whenever you saw a [news story] about a child molester or something like that, I always said they should stitch their mouth to the ass of a very fat truck driver as punishment. Everyone said that was such a horrible idea, I thought it was a great idea for a film. How would it look? Of course, if they’re on their hands and knees at the right angle, then you could attach them easily. Then you start thinking: Who would do such a thing? A crazy surgeon. Then the film comes together. I contacted a real surgeon in Holland because I wanted to get the surgical procedure to be real. How would you make the human centipede construction real? That was the horrifying part and from there the story kept building and building.

Shock: Did you ever toy with the idea of using this idea – like you said – as a sort of form of justice for the main protagonist? A revenge plot, so to speak, as opposed to the idea that you have now where it’s a deranged surgeon…

Six: Not at all, because I had seen so many cliché horror films, I really wanted to use them. Two innocent girls who get into trouble, the flat tire, the cell phone doesn’t work, I wanted to build on those clichés. Then they go to a strange man’s house and the story totally changes where they meet real evil. Because I use those clichés, the audience gets to see them and they work so much better. They’re hit in the face.

Shock: How did you come to find Ashley Williams and Ashlynn Yennie and convince them to partake in the film?

Six: We did the casting in New York and sought after daring, good actresses. A lot of girls came to the audition and I made storyboard drawings of the human centipede construction which clearly shows what’s going on. I showed this picture to them and the actresses thought I was totally crazy. The smart ones stayed because I explained what the film was going to look like and how I was going to approach it. Then, of course, they had to mimic the centipede on their hands and knees for real for me because I wanted to see if they had the guts to do it. To have the butts so close to their mouth. It was tough to find good actresses who dared to be ugly in the film.

Shock: Dispense with the bullshit to look good on the camera.

Six: Exactly. With Dieter, he was in sixty films and has worked with tons of actors. He’s like a dinosaur in acting. I thought he had such an incredible face and voice. So I met him in Berlin and we talked about the script and he rocked it. I think that man is born for this role. There’s evil and he could portray that with the seriousness he brought to it.

Shock: What gravitated you to this genre? Because I presume you’re a lover of all film, not just horror…

Six: Yes, I love all films. But the thriller-horror genre has no boundaries. Your imagination can go really wild and everything is accepted. There’s controversial stuff that I really enjoy.

Shock: Well, you’ve escalated as a dangerous director, a renegade, based on the ideas you’ve brought to this film. Are there boundaries even you won’t cross?

Six: I don’t think you can ever go too far. You have to make films that haven’t been done before, so your imagination just keeps going and going. For me, I haven’t found anything that I wouldn’t dare bring to the screen. The way you show things, you can make it tasteful or not. You can show things in a beautiful way.

Shock: How has this film festival circuit journey been for you? Are you surprised or pissed off about the audiences’ reaction?

Six: We’ve shown it from Australia to Europe to Japan. Everyone is talking about it and that makes you proud as a filmmaker. You get so many different reactions. Some audience members will laugh at the black humor but there are people who will feel terrible. They feel abused. A lot of women are really angry with me about it. I get so many reactions, some people hate it.

Shock: How far along are you on the sequel?

Six: Really far along. We start shooting in June in the UK. I want to keep it a bit of a surprise as to what happens. I always see a lot of Hollywood horror film sequels and they’re terrible. I want to make sure the sequel is original and something cool. That’s a challenge. I have some stuff in the script that will, I hope, amaze the audience. I can tell you it’s going to be a huge centipede – with twelve people. But what happens in it is something we don’t expect.

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Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor