Some things never change, it seems. On June 6, 2011, the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) handed down a verdict denying a certificate for Tom Six’s sequel to his 2010 horror opus Human Centipede (First Sequence). What this means is that the film, which has yet to be released, cannot be shown in any UK movie theatres. Nor can it be legally owned or distributed on DVD within the UK.
In 2010, the BBFC approved the first entry in the series with an 18 certificate. In the UK, this means that the film is suitable only for adults. In addition, the BBFC requested no cuts be made to the film. This is understandable as, for anyone who has actually seen it, the horrifying atrocities in the film are far more left to the viewer’s imagination than by anything that is explicitly depicted. Similar to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Human Centipede (First Sequence) terrifies precisely due to what is not shown.
In the sequel, director Tom Six apparently takes a different, more subversive route. Human Centipede (Full Sequence) focuses on a character so obsessed with the first film that he endeavors to make his own homo-arthropod. Using sexual stimulation as a driving force, the character revels in such acts as torture, degradation, rape, murder, even forced defecation and mutilation. According to the BBCF ruling, no amount of editing would make this film presentable to the public. “The BBFC considered whether cutting the work might address the issues, ” the ruling stated, “but concluded that as the unacceptable material (is) featured througout, cutting was not a viable option and the work was therefore refused a classification.”
Tom Six follows on the heels of some famous directors who have had their own problems with the BBFC. Notable among these are Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange), Ken Russell (The Devils) and Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs). Each of these films was passed with an X certificate, severely limiting the audience, distribution and advertising for the film. Even with such a severe certification, cuts were still required for The Devils and The Wild Bunch.
After issuing its list of “Video Nasties” in the 1980’s, the UK still seems on the short end of progress when it comes to the purpose of the BBFC. At least here, the ratings of NC-17 or Unrated don’t necessarily mean the death knell for an independent horror film. Huntsville, like Birmingham, has a tradition of screening these films, such as House Of 1000 Corpses, Prospero’s Books and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover. Let’s hope that the tradition continues when the next sequence of Human Centipede is unleashed in America.