Should you allow your child to watch The Human Centipede? It’s hard for parents to know what movies are appropriate for young people, since so many movies come out in the theater and on the video or the cable. From the title of this movie, you might expect a family-friendly superhero romp like Toy Story or Veggie Tales, or maybe something about nature. But The Human Centipede is actually about a misguided doctor who makes a "centipede" out of three people by stitching their mouth parts to their bottoms, then connecting their digestive tracts with a tube. And like most medical procedures, this one is totally unnecessary. So should your little ones see this movie? The purpose of our Parents’ Viewing Guide is not to make this choice for you, but rather to help you make an informed decision for yourself. Our rating system runs from one to five Smileys across several categories of concern for adults, with five Smileys being the best (and the most smiles!). Read on for our detailed advice.
First, take a look at the trailer for The Human Centipede to get a feel for what the movie’s about. Then see our ratings below. Watch for lots of "spoilers"!
SEX & NUDITY: 5. There is almost no sex or nudity in this movie. The young ladies are damp from the rain early on, which makes their outfits clingy and a little see-through, but not explicitly whorish. Once the biological experiments begin, their various naughty parts are out of frame or covered by bandages. The potential to see uncovered buttocks is thankfully removed due to the characters’ faces being surgically attached to those buttocks, thus obscuring them. At no point does anything approaching sexual intercourse occur in The Human Centipede, though the doctor sometimes appears aroused by his creation’s funny antics.
VIOLENCE & GORE: 2. There is unfortunately a fair amount of blood and some unpleasant visuals. People have their teeth and lips removed, incisions are made in trembling flesh, needles are jabbed, stitches are roughly woven into skin and tissue, tubes are inserted into mouths and wound out of rectae and back into mouths and so on. But these acts take place in a laboratory setting and can be explained to children as primarily educational, as long as any discussion of evolution or natural selection is conscientiously avoided. Unfortunately, there is a fight scene at the end between the doctor and the Human Centipede that involves non-educational stabbing, which results in the deduction of three Smileys. The real scene to watch out for is the death of the first third of the Human Centipede, which may sadden some children — like when Bambi’s mother is killed or Old Yeller has to be taken out to the fields and put out of his misery. Explain to your child that the first third of the Human Centipede is with Jesus now.
PROFANITY: 5. There is definitely profanity in The Human Centipede but it is all spoken in non-American languages. Make sure you have subtitles turned off (a wise move for any foreign movie) and your child will not experience any strong language problems. You can even make a game of it with your child, creating your own story about the lonely old doctor and his new friends. Why are they shouting? They must be excited for snacks and Bible camp!
SCIENCE: 1. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this movie is its heavy reliance on science as a plot device. Your child may have many questions about why people do science, and why science might be involved in sewing someone’s mouth to another person’s anus. This is a natural part of growing up, and it also serves as a great opportunity to discourage your children from trusting science or believing what scientists say. Though the doctor in The Human Centipede isn’t really trying to play God with this specific experiment, of course most any experiment involves calling God a liar. Make sure your child understands that the doctor himself is as much a victim of science as the people he imprisons and horribly mutilates. He really doesn’t know any better.
GAYS: 5. No homosexuals here! Though one might think it strange that the doctor lives alone as a bachelor, there is never any suggestion that he has any gay inclinations, and his obsession with anuses appears to be entirely professional.
FOREIGNERS: 1. As one would expect with a non-American movie, there are no visible Americans in this movie at all. Normally one can get by with American-style foreigners like Russell Crowe or Hugh Grant or Hugh Jackman or Robert Downey Junior, who all speak American pretty well. But this is what happens when you import movies into our country from places where they don’t yet understand our way of life. Other than the languages — which actually helps, as noted above — there are at least no foreign ideas discussed, like socialism or public health care.
JESUS CHRIST: 1. We’re sorry to report that our Savior’s only presence in this movie occurs when His name is taken in vain during screams of agony. Depending on your church you may be able to explain to your child that what seems like mortal terror is really orgiastic witnessing in the name of the Lord. But mainly, just be sure to keep the focus firmly on the visuals offered by The Human Centipede, and your child will probably not even remember the dialogue.
So to sum up: