The 'Human Centipede' Escapes

Director Tom Six talks about the UK cuts

"Initially I thought, yeah, great, because I've always been interested in censorship and the censorship debate. … Now it just feels kind of weird being in it for real." 'Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)' star Laurence R. Harvey (sat with director Tom Six) on the fight with British censors (Photo by Richard Whittaker)

Even by Fantastic Fest standards, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) was not for the squeamish: So much so that it seemed unlikely to ever be seen on a British screen. Now, as director Tom Six's new fever dream opens in the US, it seems the UK's censors have relented.

In a surprising reversal of position, the British Board of Film Classification announced on Oct. 6 that it was reversing an earlier decisions, and would be granting a certificate to the stitched-together sequel. We caught up with Six at Fantastic Fest the day after his new shockfest premiered, while the BBFC was still withholding a classification, and asked him about their initial decision. He said, "For me, I got two strong emotions. One is, now I'm up there with 11 films in 99 years. Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a film by Kubrick, it's an honor to to be up there, especially when I promised that part one would be My Little Pony compared to part two. So that helped. Otherwise, I'm really pissed off, of course, because who are they to decide what adults, grown-ups can watch for themselves. It's crazy. It's from the dinosaur era. People can get films from abroad or on the Internet, so you can't ban a film any more. So it's useless."

Contrary to what some people have thought, Human Centipede (Full Sequence) was never banned in the UK. Instead, the BBFC denied it a classification, meaning that the distributors would have to go to each city or town council to request permission to show the film in their local cinemas. That is such a pain that most film makers will not bother. and try instead to find a produce a cut the censors will like. In this case, the distributors went back with a new edit and, on Oct. 6, the BBFC granted it an 18 rating. That means British adults 18 years and older will be able to watch a truncated movie, shortened by two minutes and 37 seconds, with a total of 32 cuts (bye-bye barbed wire, staple removal and sand paper.)

And what about Laurence R. Harvey, the English actor who plays Martin, the creator of the eponymous chimera? He said, "Initially I thought, yeah, great, because I've always been interested in censorship and the censorship debate. Growing up in the video nasties era, and being interested in the horror comics campaign, and the music hall campaign in the nineteenth century, I was kind of interested from a kind of academic point of view. Now it just feels kind of weird being in it for real. Also, it's not a campaign against a genre or a type of film. It just seems to be specifically this film. If you look at the verdict of the Japanese film Grotesque from a few years ago, and then you look at the rejection release for our film, it's like they've gone out of their way to be damning about the first film and damning about [Six] personally."

Harvey may have a point. Even with those cuts, one member of the BBFC refused to sign off on the new classification.

You can read our review of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence here.

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Censorship, Tom Six, Laurence R. Harvey, The Human Centipede 2 Full Sequence, BBFC

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