Horror has always had a difficult relationship with the censors. By definition, the subject matter will always challenge those tasked with defending our moral chastity but the last time that horror film makers really fell out with them was in the video nasty crisis in the early ’80s. In recent years however the British Board of Film Classification has been a remarkably enlightened and sensible bunch.
The news that they have banned the sequel to the Human Centipede is something to take notice of then. The original was a rather pathetic and unnecessary film, clearly designed to shock and get people talking. No doubt it made money, so in that respect it probably did what it was designed to do. The story was entirely based around a single rather revolting image of three people surgically grafted together, mouth to anus (I’m sorry, but there’s just no nice way to say it). And that was it, the entirety of the plot, and of course if it hadn’t been such a disgusting image it would have disappeared without a trace.
The sequel is by all accounts worse and, for more detail, see what the BBFC and the director has to say about the film on Empire’s website, here. Getting banned is wondeful publicity for the film of course and it has many people – like me – talking about it. Whether or not they can make money from a film that will be so difficult to legally see (and pay for) remains to be seen, but I’m sure in the long run the film will make a return and give others ideas about other repulsive images that they can realise on screen.
There will be much moral outrage to come and that’s to be expected. Tragically, it looks like this time, they might be right and when a newspaper as liberal as the Guardian covers it, we really know we’re in trouble. What depresses me so thoroughly about this sorry excuse for a film-maker is that in his bid to make a quick buck (sorry, art) he drags down the whole of the horror genre with him. It’s hard enough admitting to the uninitiated that you’re a horror lover as it is – most people see horror as a single genre and won’t distinguish between the highs and the lows, but it’s the lows that they remember.
It’s tragic, but recent breakthroughs in horror like Let the Right One In are quickly forgotten by the general cinema-going public. Human Centipede and its grubby little sequel, however, will remembered by the average punter for years to come.