A Conversation with Human Centipede Director Tom Six


Dutch filmmaker Tom Six was one of the TV pioneers behind the original version of Big Brother, so there’s a disturbing irony in his latest film again featuring people trapped together in a house. In The Human Centipede [see review], a renegade German doctor (Dieter Laser) who once separated conjoined twins cannot be stopped from fulfilling his sickest fantasy: to surgically bond three poor souls, mouth to bunghole, so that they share one long digestive tract. I made sure to have an empty stomach when speaking with Six about his already notorious horror flick.

I don’t know how to put this lightly: What’s wrong with you? [Laughs.] There’s nothing wrong with me. I had a happy childhood, and I’m a perfectly healthy guy. I just have a big imagination. I couldn’t hurt a mouse.

You certainly made your cast earn their paychecks. It’s very physically demanding for the actresses, of course, because their upper bodies are naked, and they have to sit on their hands and knees for long shooting days. They were pretty emotional at moments. But there was so much fun on the set, all the time, because of the absurdity. The actors were asking what they had for dinner the night before, [talking about] passing gas, and so forth. The centipede invented this little synchronous dance. We’ll put it on the DVD—it’s very funny.

Have there been any extreme reactions to the film? When we were editing, we did test screenings. We invited horror lovers, but also people who like romantic comedies, mostly women, who left in tears because they couldn’t handle it. They were afraid to look at me, even. Some people walk out of the cinemas, others can’t stop laughing, and if people are eating during the movie, they are vomiting their food out because they didn’t expect this to happen. It has a lot of influence on people’s emotions.

The film is subtitled First Sequence. Can we expect a longer centipede in the next sequence? 12 people, yeah. That’s meters long, a real centipede. I wanted to make the sequel go further, but I first wanted to get the audience used to the idea.

The movie is advertised as being “100 percent medically accurate.” How did you research that? My idea was to put them on their knees and remove their patellas. Then I went to a surgeon and showed him the drawings I made. He thought I was an idiot because everything went against his professional oath. At the same time, he was a big movie lover, so after a while, he liked the idea of working on this thing. He created this operation for me, with the flaps on the cheeks. He could actually perform the operation he invented and make a human centipede himself. That’s a scary thought.

Could the centipede sustain itselfif the unwitting participants only ate human waste? I talked to the doctor about this. You can eat feces—you won’t die from that. As you see in the film, there are IV poles standing next to them, so they get liquids in them. You could keep people alive like that for a pretty long time. Of course, they can get infections, and it wouldn’t be a happy life.

Are you concerned that some psychopath might try to replicate your ideas for real? No, to perform this, you would have to be a real surgeon. I don’t think something like this could happen in real life. It would be good marketing, though. [Laughs.]