Tom Six, the ‘Human Centipede’ Director, Is ‘Very Proud’ of His Work
We talked to the notorious shock peddler about his reputation, his "dark view of humanity," and whether he's worried about life imitating his art.
Everyone has awful thoughts from time to time, fragments of fucked-up fantasies sloshing around in the seas of our subconscious. Most of us forget about these notions; we bury them because we don't want to be reviled for our secret sadism or even admit to ourselves that we've considered the logistics of, say, sewing someone's mouth to someone else's anus. Dutch director Tom Six is not like the rest of us. He not only voiced one of the darkest notions to cross his mind, he turned it into a trilogy of almost uniquely abrasive movies.
While the first two Human Centipede films were largely dismissed by critics and didn't earn much in the way of box office, they garnered a lot of media attention—enough, apparently, to justify a third entry, The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence, which is due out in theaters this weekend and promises more mouth-to-anus action. (The reviews, predictably, have not been kind.) I called up Six to interview him about his accomplishments, but mostly to ask him why he keeps making these things.
VICE: I'm really excited to talk to you because I've been disgusted with you for the last four years, so this is a great opportunity for me.
Tom Six: Oh, this is an honor, yeah?
Does it make you uncomfortable that you're so associated with your films that you're known as "the Human Centipede Guy"?
No, not at all. I'm proud of that because I believe that art should do something to people, and with a lot of horror movies and artwork, people are basically indifferent, they don't care. There's nothing more beautiful than people having reacted to your work—that's a big honor, I think. People either like my work, or they absolutely hate it. There's nothing in between. And I'm very proud of that.
You've said in past interviews that women are afraid of you, and that you've gotten death threats on Facebook. Why do you keep making these films despite all that?
I think so many people have their own dark fantasies, but they never express them—[but] I'm a filmmaker, and a writer and director, so I find it absolutely thrilling to create my dark fantasies on the screen. A lot of people that I meet, they see the comedy in it, and that's what I'm really proud of. And everybody can relate to it—[everybody has someone] at work or somebody that they'd like to human centipede... that's basically what makes it so funny, the people that you hate or child molesters or whatever, or animal molesters, some deserve the fate of the human centipede, I think.
What in, your opinion, do your movies say about humanity? What does it mean to be human, according to the wisdom of The Human Centipede?
I have a very dark vision on humanity. I think we were born evil. That sounds, maybe, a little crazy, but we are. Society keeps us on the right path. Because what you see is when wars break out, people turn into animals, so we're walking on thin ice, I think. We are very cruel beings. Like, if you compare us to animals, animals only kill because they have to eat, but the human race also kills for fun. That's very disturbing, I think, and I show that in my movies, the dark side of humanity.
I remember you saying a few years ago that the third movie was going to make the second movie seem like a Disney movie. Do you think you followed through on that promise?
Well, that's in the eye of the beholder. I have people that were much more afraid of part three. I have [crew members who] didn't want to have their full names in the end credits, and in part two, they had no problem with it. Part three is way more politically incorrect. Part two [has a lot of] gore. But I think part three is actually the most controversial of the three movies. It's the most topical.
In the movies, characters keep repeating that this stuff is 100 percent medically accurate, and that you could really do it. It almost seems like it's your intention to make somebody copy it. Do you want someone to create a real human centipede?
Uh... It would be great marketing, of course, if it ever... I don't think it will ever happen, of course, because it's so out there. That's why I made part two, because people kept saying, "What if a guy copies it?" And you see it's totally—it's insanely strange to make a human centipede. I'm sure it will never happen. But I play with that fact, I find that very funny. A surgeon could actually do it. I have this very detailed operation report made by a surgeon in Holland, and it actually can be done, and that actually makes the film even more scary and more fascinating. (Editor's note: VICE once asked a doctor about the second film, and he didn't exactly say it was accurate.)
Can you talk a little about your next movie, The Onania Club? You said it's more inhumane than anything you've done.
Yeah, I'm going to continue to explore the darker sides of humans, but always with comedy in it. I think you need comic relief because a lot of bad things have comedy in them. It's a movie that the whole world will talk about—again, it's very original. It's about a group of very rich people doing something that, well, what the plot is about, if I would reveal that now, it would be a little bit too soon. But I'm 100 percent sure that, like, South Park would easily copy it again. And it's very original and very shocking at the same time.