Ever since director of The Human Centipede, Tom Six, said to us that the sequel to his notorious body-shock exploitation horror picture would, “make the original look like My Little Pony,” it has kind of been begging to be involved in massive censorship controversy.
Of course this type of extreme cinema is always about pushing boundaries and seeing how far audiences will accept what they are seeing and as a horror film, it is designed to spark reaction. Well it turns out Tom Six has found out how far he could push the limits before being told no.
Yes that’s right, the BBFC or the British Board of Film Classification have denied the sequel a certification and the film is therefore not allowed to be distributed in cinemas or sold on home video in the UK. The system works differently to the US, where films can be released unrated.
The move is a big decision for the board considering they rarely ban films. They usually do their best to make them suitable for UK distribution, even if that means cutting them. Very rarely do they ban.
The BBFC is a great organisation, a far superior system to the MPAA which many people consider flawed, and where the commercialism of the film is a strong influence on the rating it will receive. The British censors are solely concerned with the content and they do have their reasons for whenever they do cut or ban.
The problem they have with most films is to do with sexualisation of violence. In this case they were concerned with the audience identification with the main character who is turned on by various degrading acts and the lack of sympathy for the victims.
You can read their full detailed reasoning below. Personally I don’t see the point in banning the film. This has a very niche audience. The only people interested in seeing it are teenagers who want to shock themselves and the hardcore extreme horror fans. Also in the UK, the original Human Centipede did rotten business. Banning it is going to solve nothing and just advertise it more. The filmmakers reportedly have six weeks to appeal the decision. (Empire)
The first film dealt with a mad doctor who sews together three kidnapped people in order to produce the ‘human centipede’of the title. Although the concept of the film was undoubtedly tasteless and disgusting it was a relatively traditional and conventional horror film and the Board concluded that it was not in breach of our Guidelines at ‘18’. This new work, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), tells the story of a man who becomes sexually obsessed with a DVD recording of the first film and who imagines putting the ‘centipede’ idea into practice. Unlike the first film, the sequel presents graphic images of sexual violence, forced defecation, and mutilation, and the viewer is invited to witness events from the perspective of the protagonist. Whereas in the first film the ‘centipede’ idea is presented as a revolting medical experiment, with the focus on whether the victims will be able to escape, this sequel presents the ‘centipede’ idea as the object of the protagonist’s depraved sexual fantasy.
The principal focus of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is the sexual arousal of the central character at both the idea and the spectacle of the total degradation, humiliation, mutilation, torture, and murder of his naked victims. Examples of this include a scene early in the film in which he masturbates whilst he watches a DVD of the original Human Centipede film, with sandpaper wrapped around his penis, and a sequence later in the film in which he becomes aroused at the sight of the members of the ‘centipede’ being forced to defecate into one another’s mouths, culminating in sight of the man wrapping barbed wire around his penis and raping the woman at the rear of the ‘centipede’. There is 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. There is a strong focus throughout on the link between sexual arousal and sexual violence and a clear association between pain, perversity and sexual pleasure. It is the Board’s conclusion that the explicit presentation of the central character’s obsessive sexually violent fantasies is in breach of its Classification Guidelines and poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:
It is the Board’s carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board’s Guidelines, would risk potential harm within the terms of the VRA, and would be unacceptable to the public.
The Board also seeks to avoid classifying material that may be in breach of the Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 (OPA) or any other relevant legislation. The OPA prohibits the publication of works that have a tendency to deprave or corrupt a significant proportion of those likely to see them. In order to avoid classifying potentially obscene material, the Board engages in regular discussions with the relevant enforcement agencies, including the CPS, the police, and the Ministry of Justice. It is the Board’s view that there is a genuine risk that this video work, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), may be considered obscene within the terms of the OPA, for the reasons given above.