After the bloody, per­verse creep­fest that was The Human Centipede II, view­ers might have won­dered if there was any place left for writer/director Tom Six to take his Human Centipede con­cept. As it turned out, Six had one more trick up his sleeve. In The Human Centipede III, he throws out the hor­ror ele­ment and plays up the sick humor ele­ments that were part of the fab­ric of the first two films, going for a bizarre attempt at shock-com­e­dy that is pitched some­where between Troma movies and John Waters’ ‘70s out­put.

HumCen3-posThe Human Centipede III brings back the star of the first film, Dieter Laser, for a new role as Bill Boss, the war­den of the George W. Bush State Prison. The gov­er­nor (Eric Roberts) has let him know that his unruly enter­prise is in dan­ger of being closed down so he gives in to an idea pro­posed by his sleazy accoun­tant, Dwight (The Human Centipede II star Laurence R. Harvey): to trans­form the pris­on pop­u­la­tion into a giant cen­tipede, using the first two Human Centipede movies as a guide. Six even writes him­self in a cameo as him­self, called in to con­sult on the med­ical via­bil­i­ty of the oper­a­tions.

The Human Centipede III is odd even by the stan­dards of this series for a few rea­sons. For starters, the plot­ting is weird­ly episod­ic: the sto­ry­line of the film could be ful­filled in a half-hour so Six pads it out with a series of show­stop­ping atroc­i­ties: Boss cut­ting the tes­ti­cles off a pris­on­er, a water­board­ing HumCen3-01ses­sion with steam­ing water, a night­mare scene with a per­verse ver­sion of rape that pays homage to Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. It’s almost like a vari­ety show aimed at the dark­est-mind­ed mem­bers of the cult/horror audi­ence.

The oth­er source of the film’s odd­ness is a flam­boy­ant­ly bizarre per­for­mance from Laser. It seems like Six sim­ply stood back and allowed the actor to han­dle the sce­nes how­ev­er he pleas­es because he is nev­er in sync with his fel­low actors, who are all try­ing to play the sto­ry in a dead­pan-straight man­ner. Laser veers from mum­bling in a hun­gover man­ner to mak­ing weird faces at the oth­er actors while they talk to throw­ing child­like fits as he shouts lines at the top of his lungs, extend­ing each syl­la­ble past its break­ing point with a Teutonic roar. It’s more per­for­mance art than HumCen3-02per­for­mance and it’s the weird­est, most aton­al per­for­mance in any com­mer­cial­ly released film in years.

In short, The Human Centipede III is a gut­sy but mis­guid­ed exper­i­ment that nev­er real­ly takes flight. Six has car­ried his meta-movie con­ceits too far, show­ing more inter­est in being a per­verse show­man rather than try­ing to tell a sto­ry (the film doesn’t even have a prop­er end­ing) or cre­ate a mood. It strains too hard to be the bad boy of the cult movie set and its aggres­sive mix of bru­tal­i­ty and weird­ness is more like­ly to alien­ate view­ers rather than draw­ing them into his bizarre world.