The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Directed by Tom Six
Produced by Tom Six Ilona Six
Written by Tom Six
Starring Dieter LaserAshley C. WilliamsAshlynn YennieAkihiro Kitamura
Music by Patrick Savage Holeg Spies
Cinematography Goof de Koning
Editing by Tom Six
Studio Six Entertainment
Distributed by Bounty Films (Int'l)IFC Films
Release date(s) 28 April 2010 (2010-04-28)
Running time 91 minutes[1]
Country Netherlands
Language English German Japanese
Budget €1.5 million
Gross revenue $252,207 (approx. €187,000)


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The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

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Theatrical release poster

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a 2010 Dutch horror film written and directed by Tom Six. The film tells the story of a German doctor who kidnaps three tourists and joins them surgically, mouth to anus, forming a "human centipede". It stars Dieter Laser as the antagonist Dr. Heiter, with Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, and Akihiro Kitamura as the doctor's victims. According to Six, the concept of the film arose from a joke he made with friends about punishing child molesters by stitching their mouths to the anus of a "fat truck driver". Six has also stated that inspiration for the film came from Nazi medical experiments carried out during World War II, such as the actions of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz concentration camp.When approaching investors prior to filming, Six did not mention the mouth-to-anus aspect of the plot, fearing it would put off potential backers. The financiers of The Human Centipede did not discover the full nature of the film until it was complete. The Human Centipede received mixed reviews from mainstream film critics, but it won several accolades at international film festivals. The film was released in the United States on Video on Demand on April 28, 2010, and on limited release theatrically on April 30. Tom Six began working on a sequel, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), which is scheduled to be released in 2011.


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Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), two American tourists in Germany, are drugged and kidnapped by crazed surgeon Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) when they seek help after their car breaks down. The women awake in a makeshift medical ward and witness Heiter informing a kidnapped truck driver (Rene de Wit) that he is "not a match" and killing him. When the women wake up a second time, Heiter has secured a new male captive, Japanese tourist Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura). The doctor explains that he is a world-renowned expert at separating conjoined twins, but dreams of making new creatures that share a single digestive system. He describes in detail how he will surgically connect his three victims mouth-to-anus. After Lindsay fails in an attempt to escape, Heiter performs the surgery on his victims, placing Lindsay in the middle, Katsuro at the front, and Jenny at the rear. Before beginning the operation, Heiter explains to Lindsay that he had experimented with creating a 'three dog', also joined mouth-to-anus, which died shortly after surgery. Heiter tells Lindsay that the middle dog of his creation experienced the most pain, and as a punishment for her escape attempt she will become the middle part of his centipede.

Once the operation is complete the doctor tries to train his centipede as a pet, and watches with great delight as Lindsay is forced to swallow Katsuro's excrement. However, Heiter eventually becomes irritated after being kept awake by the constant screaming of his victims and realising that Jenny is dying from blood poisoning. When two detectives, Kranz (Andreas Leupold) and Voller (Peter Blankenstein), visit the house to investigate the disappearance of tourists, Heiter decides to add them to his centipede as replacements for Jenny. Heiter fails in an attempt to drug the detectives, and they leave the house to obtain a search warrant. The victims attempt to escape from the ward, crawling up the stairs, and Katsuro attacks Heiter. Their attempt to escape ultimately fails. Katsuro confesses to the doctor, in Japanese, that he deserves his fate because he had treated his family poorly. Katsuro then commits suicide by slitting his own throat with a piece of glass. The detectives return to the house and conduct separate searches, as Heiter hides near his swimming pool. Kranz finds the makeshift ward and then hears a gunshot. He discovers Heiter's victims before finding Voller dead in the swimming pool. Heiter shoots Kranz in the stomach, and Kranz responds by shooting Heiter in the head. Kranz then falls in the pool, dead. Back in the house, Jenny and Lindsay hold hands as Jenny dies from her infection. Lindsay is left alone in the house, trapped between her deceased fellow captives.


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Stars Ashlynn Yennie, Ashley C. Williams, and Akihiro Kitamura at the Big Apple Convention in Manhattan, October 1, 2010.

  • Dieter Laser as Dr. Heiter, a retired surgeon who specialised in the separation of conjoined twins, but in retirement he is more interested in joining creatures together. Casting for the role of Dr. Heiter took place in Berlin, with Six intending to cast Laser, who had previously starred in the TV series Lexx, before he had even read for the part. Laser contributed a great deal to the development of his character Dr. Heiter. For example, Heiter views his 'centipede' as a pet, and Laser felt that it was important that Heiter should be seen to swim naked, in full view of his victims, as when around a pet "you aren't ashamed to be naked."
  • Ashley C. Williams as Lindsay, an American tourist and the middle part of the centipede. Auditioning for the roles of Jenny and Lindsay took place in New York City Six said that during the auditioning process, many actresses walked out of readings with disgust after hearing the full nature of the role.
  • Ashlynn Yennie as Jenny, the back part of the centipede. As with Williams, The Human Centipede was Yennie's first major film role.
  • Akihiro Kitamura as Katsuro, a Japanese tourist and front part of the centipede. Having acted and written for a number of films and TV shows previously, Kitamura was a relatively experienced cast member, and auditioned for the role of Katsuro via Skype from Los Angeles after the casting director saw him on television and recommended him for the role.
  • Rene de Wit as the Truck Driver; de Wit had previously worked with Tom Six in Six's 2008 film I Love Dries.
  • Andreas Leupold as Detective Kranz, a police officer.
  • Peter Blankenstein as Detective Voller, Kranz' partner.


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Dr. Heiter surveys his completed human centipede. The use of bandages in The Human Centipede allowed the filmmakers to imply a more graphic and disturbing idea than is actually shown on screen.[4]

The inspiration for the film's story came from a joke writer/director Tom Six frequently made to friends about punishing criminals such as child molesters by stitching their mouths to the anus of an overweight truck driver. He saw this as the concept for a great horror movie, and he began to develop the idea. Tom Six had previously worked as a director on the Dutch series of Big Brother and stated that he was able to observe people who "did crazy things when they were alone and thought they were not (being) watched." Six has said he was heavily influenced as a filmmaker by the early works of David Cronenberg, as well as Japanese horror films. Six has professed his love for films that are "daring, original (and) cleverly made", major influences for The Human Centipede being Pier Paolo Pasolini's controversial 1975 Italian drama film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, which was notable for its scenes depicting intensely graphic violence, sadism, and sexual depravity, as was the controversial 1998 film The Idiots.

Six has stated that The Human Centipede is to an extent a reflection on fascism. Dieter Laser, who played the antagonist Dr. Heiter, said during the promotion of the film that he felt the guilt of Nazi actions during the war had haunted ordinary Germans for generations, and that as a German whose father participated in the war, he often felt "like a child whose father is in jail for murder". The inclusion of a German villain came from this, with Six citing both the German invasion of the Netherlands during World War II and the Nazi medical experiments as inspiration. Dr. Heiter's name was an amalgamation of several Nazi war criminals, his surname a combination of the names of Nazi doctors Fetter and Richter, and his first name coming from Josef Mengele, who carried out experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz concentration camp.World War II also played an influence on the nationality of the other main characters (American and Japanese), and Six placed a Japanese male at the front of the centipede for two reasons: firstly to create a language barrier between the doctor and the centipede. Throughout the film the characters (with the exception of Heiter who speaks to the centipede in English) speak in their native languages only (subtitled for the viewer into English where necessary). Katsuro, as the front part of the centipede can only speak Japanese and therefore cannot speak with either the doctor or Jenny and Lindsay. Secondly, Katsuro's position in the centipede sets up the opportunity for the doctor and the centipede to fight towards the climax of the film. Six included many horror film clichés in the first act in an attempt to lull audiences into thinking "they've seen it all before" and are watching a "more conventional" horror film, therefore making Dr. Heiter's treatment of his victims more shocking.

While seeking funding for the film, Six pitched the idea of a surgeon who sewed people together. He did not initially reveal that the victims would be joined mouth-to-anus, fearing that it would put off potential investors. His backers did not learn the exact details of the film until it had been completed. Before signing on, the actors were given an outline of the storyboard rather than a complete script.

Although The Human Centipede is set in Germany, filming took place in the Netherlands due to the countries' similar landscapes. Dr. Heiter's home, where most of The Human Centipede takes place, was a villa in the Netherlands found by the production team. Some conversion of the property took place prior to filming. For example, a basement cinema room was converted to form Dr. Heiter's basement operating theatre, with real hospital beds and IV drips rented from a local hospital. The hotel room scene near the beginning of the film was filmed in a hotel suite at a location near Amsterdam.

Dieter Laser remained in character as Dr. Heiter on set. He stayed away from the other actors and crew between scenes to preserve a level of separation, and he only ate food he had brought onto the set himself. Laser contributed dialogue for his character and selected many of his character's outfits from his personal wardrobe. Laser also accidentally kicked Kitamuro (Katsuro) during filming, this led to a fight on set between the actors, however contributed to the tension and anger throughout the scene where Heiter sits at his dining table eating whilst the centipede eats dog food from the floor alongside him. Due to the discomfort of spending long periods on their hands and knees, the actors playing the centipede were given massages at the end of each day of filming.

The Nazi influence behind Dr. Heiter led to the use of classical music when the doctor is "training" his centipede. The music was deliberately played at low quality in order to simulate the music coming from a loudspeaker, in much the same way as music was sometimes played in Nazi concentration camps. Many of the sound effects in The Human Centipede were created by manipulating meat. For example, the sound of a nose being broken was made by snapping bones within cuts of raw meat.


The Human Centipede (First Sequence) contains relatively little gory imagery, and very little of the surgical procedure is depicted directly. Tom Six stated that he wanted the film to be 100% medically accurate and claims to have consulted a Dutch surgeon during the creation and filming process. Six has claimed that the middle and back members of the centipede could survive for years by supplementing their diet with an IV drip. Six claims that his special effects team designed the final composition of the centipede from sketches provided by his consulting surgeon, and provided hardened underwear with a rubber grip for the actors to wear for the actor behind to bite onto, which created the illusion of the mouth-to-anus connection.

When Dr. Heiter is operating on his victims, Jenny's teeth were digitally removed in post-production. However, other effects were relatively simple to create, for example, Heiter's 'three dog' was created by photoshopping an image of three Rottweilers to create an image of dogs joined together.Colour grading was used extensively throughout the production of The Human Centipede. For example, at the end of the film when Lindsay is left between the dead bodies of Jenny and Katsuro, their skin tones were lightened to further emphasise that they were dead and Lindsay was very much still alive.

Promotion and release

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The Human Centipede was included in several film festivals around the world, including the 2009 London FrightFest Film Festival,Leeds International Film Festival,Sitges Film Festival, and Screamfest Horror Film Festival. In an interview with, Tom Six claimed that the buzz surrounding the film led several studios to approach him about distributing the film.IFC Films distributed the film in 2010 in the United States and Canada. The film was released on Video on Demand on April 28, 2010; theatrically in New York City on April 30, 2010 and a limited release in the US shortly afterwards. IFC Films has a history of releasing unconventional horror films, having previously distributed the Norwegian Nazi-zombie feature Dead Snow and the 2009 release Antichrist. The films US gross was $181,467, and worldwide takings amounted to $252,207. The budget for the film had been €1,500,000 (approximately $2,100,000).

The film received a limited release in the UK on August 20, 2010. The film was distributed by Bounty Films. The film was passed uncut by the BBFC and was released with an 18 rated certificate.

Home media
The Human Centipede was released on DVD and Blu-ray October 4, 2010 and in the United States on October 5, 2010. In the United States, as of March 2011, DVD sales have totalled $1,809,298.


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Giving the film three stars out of five, Empire stated that "underneath an extremely repulsive concept, this is a relatively conventional horror movie".Variety Magazine criticized the film's lack of any form of social commentary, stating that it could not "be bothered to expand upon its unpleasant premise, inviting audiences to revel in its sick humor by favoring Dr. Heiter ... and characterizing the victims as shallow expendables".Entertainment Weekly was broadly positive about Dieter Laser's performance as the Doctor, and it praised Tom Six's direction, saying Six "has put together his nightmare yarn with Cronenbergian care and precision". However, EW posited "this is the most disgusting horror film of all time".

The Daily Telegraph was generally negative about the film, stating, "The Human Centipede has its moments, but they’re largely obscured by umpteen holes in the plot as well as by reams of exposition" and that it was "an ultimately underwhelming affair that’s neither sick or repellent enough to garner the cult status it so craves".Total Film described the film as a disappointment that "proved itself to be a slow-moving, repetitive affair that has nowhere left to go by the hour mark".The New York Times noted that it was unsure if the film was "a commentary on Nazi atrocities or a literal expression of filmmaking politics, [but] the grotesque fusion at least silences the female leads, both of whose voices could strip paint." Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, Roger Ebert did not assign the film a star rating (as opposed to awarding it zero stars), stating, "I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine." A physician and critics have dismissed Tom Six's claim that the film is "100% medically accurate" as "rubbish" and "ludicrous".

Among horror blogs the film also received attention. FEARnet gave the film a positive review, stating that it was a horror import that had the confidence and audacity to deliver something disturbingly different. Conversely, Cinematical was critical, stating that, while a potential cult hit, all in all it wasn't really a very good film. Horror website Dread Central gave it a four out of five rating, saying "...this film is indeed something special – a stomach-churning, darkly funny and unique piece of genre cinema that demands to be seen." Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 49% 'Rotten' rating with the consensus: "Grotesque, visceral and hard to (ahem) swallow, this surgical horror doesn't quite earn its stripes because the gross-outs overwhelm and devalue everything else."

Despite mixed reviews, the film won several awards in 2009 at various international horror film festivals, including Best Picture/Movie at Fantastic Fest (Austin, Texas),Screamfest Horror Film Festival (Los Angeles), and the Sainte Maxime International Horror Film Festival.

Dieter Laser won Best Actor in the horror category at Fantastic Fest and the film won the award for Best Ensemble Cast at the South African Horror Film Festival.


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A sequel, titled The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), commenced filming in London in June 2010. The plot of Full Sequence involves a centipede made from twelve people, will feature a largely British cast, and will have the tag-line "100% medically inaccurate". Six has stated that with the first film having desensitized audiences to the idea of a human centipede, the sequel will be much more graphic and disturbing, First Sequence being "My Little Pony compared with part two." In an interview, Ashlynn Yennie stated that the sequel will contain "the blood and shit" which viewers did not see in the first film.

At the Weekend of Horrors in May 2010, Ashlynn Yennie and Akihiro Kitamura hinted that their characters, despite their deaths in the film, might be returning for the sequel. Additionally, Ashley C. Williams stated in September 2010 that she was shooting a horror film in England, which led to speculation from FEARnet that she would be reprising the role of Lindsay. A teaser trailer was released on September 24, 2010, in which Six introduces Martin, a man wearing a cardboard box over his head, as the new doctor. Six has claimed that he is developing ideas for a third part, but wants to see what will happen with the second part first.

The film had been planned for a DVD release in the United Kingdom, however, upon submitting the film to the British Board of Film Classification for classification, the film was rejected due to content that was "sexually violent and potentially obscene." The BBFC's report criticised the film as making "little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience" and that the film was potentially in breech of the Obscene Publications Act, meaning its distribution in the UK would be illegal.


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A number of parodies of the film have been made. A pornographic parody, directed by Lee Roy Myers and entitled The Human Sexipede, was released in September 2010. The film was also parodied on Saturday Night Live, the South Park episode "HUMANCENTiPAD" and on the website FunnyOrDie.

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