Human Centipede II!

Human Centipede II: Full Sequence~ 2011, Tom Six, USA, The Netherlands



Human Centipede II had some big, gross shoes to fill. It’s predecessor, Human Centipede: First Sequence had enjoyed an unexpected level of success. For the sequel, writer/director Tom Six has the intimidating task of trying to out do his wildly popular film, and he mostly fails.

On some levels, this film is incredibly daring, and at least a little bit brilliant. By far, the greatest thing about this film is how outside the box it is as a sequel; in Human Centipede II, the preceding film is only a movie. In other words, the two do not take place in the same fictional universe. Therefore, the implication is that while the first film was only a movie,  this second installment takes place in the real world… Like, where you and I live. Well, where you live. This is a very abstract way to follow up a popular film, possibly borrowing from Wes Craven’s New Nightmare a little bit, but unlike New Nightmare, Human Centipede II is incredibly stylized, looking more like Eraserhead than the Human Centipede. The statement that “This is reality, and it’s infinitely more bleak and unnerving than fiction” is well captured, and in reality, this is the only thing about Human Centipede II that I really enjoyed. This concept is not limited only to the visual aesthetic, in fact every aspect of the film’s presentation is fuming with dark, nihilistic grief, filth, and misery, like the key party Edgar Allan Poe, Aleister Crowley and the dead members of Mayhem are probably throwing in Nifelheim right now. Human Centipede II is the ugliest movie I’ve ever seen, in every way. Our central character, Martin (somehow both protagonist and antagonist), is a squat, bug eyed mute who we are told is “retarded,” and is also obsessed with Human Centipede. He’s deeply motivated to create his own Human Centipede in real life, and that’s just what he does, much more successfully than the first film’s mad doctor, none the less. And he’s no highly functional smooth criminal, Martin is a bumbling piece of trash that does a terrible job every step of the way, but it doesn’t matter because he almost never comes up against any form of resistance. Almost anyone should have been able to put a swift end to his filthy machinations with little to no effort, but no one ever does. Martin is like some kind of cartoon sloth who is somehow able to carry out the most brutal atrocities known to Dutch culture, but couldn’t successfully purchase a pair of shoes if his life depended on it. It’s like the movie wants us all to know that horrible, terrible things are completely inevitable, and that every aspect of existence is hideous and dirty. Well, that’s what I got out of the film, at least.

I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that Human Centipede II is a bad movie just because it’s unpleasant to watch, but luckily that battle can be fought another day because the film suffers from enough unrelated detriments to render that discussion relatively unimportant. It’s clear that Six’s real intention here was to out do himself on shock value above all else, and to do this he mostly just makes the movie as gross as possible. Human Centipede II is poopier, rape-ier, pervier, and gorier than it’s predecessor by a long shot… And it’s just terrible. It just doesn’t add to the enjoyability of the film in any way, shape, or form, in fact, it’s a massive blow to the integrity of the piece. It’s beyond cheapened, and the filth doesn’t even feel artfully presented, it’s just gross for gross’ sake, and that’s all. Tom Six wanted to outdo himself. He wanted anyone who watched Human Centipede and shrugged it off as “not that hardcore” to quiver in shock at the terrible production he hath wrought. Well, we’ve seen it now, Mr. Six, and yeah, that was horrendously unpleasant. What of it?

There are lots of films out there right now pushing the bar for shock value, and some of them don’t actually suck. Why not watch them instead? Human Centipede II is a trip you really don’t need to take, so I would recommend that it be avoided.

According to IMDB, the third Human Centipede film has completed production. Hooray.


Evolution of a pannel!

I thought it might be cool to show you a bit of my process, and how the work changes as it evolves. Check it:

1. Idea ~ The first stage in my comic process; I am struck with an idea, yet I somehow  resist the ever present urge to kill.

2. Writing ~ My “writing” process happens on ordinary, cheap, spiral notebooks, which can be had for like, a dollar. In this stage, the art is super slap dash, often only a few lines. It’s ordinarily just enough for me to look at it and know what I’m going to be drawing later, but other people can’t often make out what they’re looking at. Even so, sometimes I like these original, more gestural drawings better. Also, there is text included at this stage, though it often changes before the final product is finished. Here is a panel from issue five in this stage:


3- Drawing (stage 1) ~ 18 X 24 drawing pads are used for the pencil stage, usually Strathmore, but I’m not too picky on that. I mark out the dimensions of my page and each of the panels, and then I draw each of the illustrations in a sloppy fashion using a softer pencil, at least a 2B.
24- Drawing (Stage 2) ~ Harder pencils are used to retrace my drawings, correct mistakes and add detais, and darker, sloppier lines are erased. I use hard leads, at least a 4H, because it closely replicates the experience of using a pen. At this stage no values are included, and things are reduced to stark contrasts and positive and negative spaces.

35- Ink! ~ I staple a large bristol sheet over the drawing page and then trace my original drawing over using ink pens and a light board. I prefer to use fine pens for 95% of the line work, .05 or .03s, often Copic Multiliners or LePens. For the fill, obviously, I will use thicker points, sometimes a .1, a .3, or a .5, but anything thicker is relatively worthless to me. I burn through these pens pretty fast.

6- Color~ I hand color each page using art markers. At this point my marker use is at about 60% Prismacolors and 40% Copic Sketch markers. I use the brush ended Prismacolors, and mostly use the brush ends of any marker that I use. I color pretty fast, so it ends up being a little sloppy. At this point I will start to layer and use some minor blending with the markers to add value, but I still think the end result looks a little more stylized and flat, which is my preference.


From here, the pages are scanned, cleaned up (Notice all the splotches in the gutters around each panel- that has got to go!) and then the lettering stage begins, which is my least favorite part. Yeah… Some changes are going to be made regarding my lettering process. So…. Anyway. I hope you enjoyed this little look into how I make my comics. Party on, everybody.


Howard The Duck!

Howard The Duck~ 1986, Willard Huyck, USA

Howard the duck

Howard the Duck is a film about an anthropomorphic duck from another planet who is accidentally brought to Earth where he befriends a young woman and sets off on a 1980’s movie adventure. It was produced by George Lucas, based on a Marvel Comics character, and is famously remembered as an enormous flop, as well as one of the worst movies of all time. Time to drop the bomb on you; it’s not that bad!

I mean, yes, it’s bad… It’s hard to be objective about a movie with this kind of reputation and almost thirty years worth of baggage attached to it, but Howard the Duck is consistently listed as one of the worst movies of all time, and this, absolutely, is undeserved. The Michael Bay Transformers films are all worse, as are all of the Resident Evil movies. Avatar was worse! Without question each summer the studios churn out at least one action stuffed popcorn film that is worse than Howard the Duck, so for poor Howard, I think the time has come for his name to be cleared.

Howard The Duck does have problems. It’s too long, almost two hours.  It’s incredibly cheesey, and so, so 80’s, although at this point something like that is as likely to draw an audience as it is to repel one. How can we vilify Howard for being dumb and 80’s when that’s exactly why we love Big Trouble In Little China so much? Is there good 80’s stupid and bad 80’s stupid? I say no. All 80’s stupid is beautiful.

Another major failing of Howard the Duck? It’s a terrible adaptation of the source material, and is not very funny. The comic book garnered it’s cult following for it’s insight, it’s witty satire and it’s social commentary, as well as for the absurdities that talking alien ducks generate. The film has some of the absurdities down pat, but the satire has all been traded for bird puns, and not very good ones. Rolling Stone Magazine has become Rolling Egg, Raiders of the Lost Ark is Breeders of the Lost Stork… Stuff like that. I mean, Rolling Egg? Wouldn’t Crowing Stone have been better? Just off the top of my head. The humor just isn’t there like it needs to be, 90% of the jokes are some variation of “Howard is a duck, you guys!” over and over. Every now and again something legitimately funny happens, but only when the film chooses to focus more on the connection between the characters instead of harping on the obvious absurdities of the situation.

Maybe the biggest thing Howard the Duck has working against it is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s much too adult to be a children’s movie, and at the same time too childish to be for adults. The damn thing is rated PG, but is full of sexual themes and adult content, including boner jokes, and duck nudity. I’m not kidding, there is frontal female duck nudity in this movie. Duck boobs. What was going on back in 1986?!!? Then there is the much maligned romantic and sexual relationship hinted at between Howard and human Lea Thompson. I mean, I’m not being too puritanical about this, am I? It’s creepy.

The truth is that the kind of Howard the Duck movie that needed to be made in 1986 was never going to happen, it would have required subversive, anti-Hollywood sensibilities like those found in Frank Hennenlotter, Peter Jackson, or even Sam Raimi, and back then nobody was going to give that kind of director the money needed for this kind of project. Peter Jackson hadn’t even released Bad Taste yet. Hollywood wasn’t ready to gamble like that, we would have been better off had we just waited.

But we didn’t, and it’s no great tragedy. Howard The Duck is kinda fun! It’s meant to be lighthearted and goofy, and really, it is. George Lucas’ name being attached to the project may have brought on the high expectations that ultimately doomed the film to critical ire, but it also brought along with it top notch special effects and an incredible art and sound department. The cast is also mostly pretty good, with the one exception of Tim Robbins, who is way over the top. None of the reasons to hate this movie hold up, hindsight has shown us this, and in the last thirty years we have suffered through much worse with giant, brainless smiles on our dumb faces. How many Mission Impossible movies are there now?!? Do you know how much money X-Men Origins: Wolverine made? Or the Twilight franchise?!?!?!

Doesn’t Howard deserve some love, after all this time?


Avia Vampire Hunter!

Avia Vampire Hunter ~ 2005, Leon Hunter, USA


WHOA!! Talk about slumming it… This is a grotesquely incompetent production. Let’s start at the beginning… So, I have no idea how this movie wound up at the top of my Netflix queue. It somehow arrived at my house unannounced, and I have no memory of having ever heard of it before. All in all, I am beginning to suspect paranormal intervention. Then I watched it. Wow. This thing is an epic turkey.
Avia Vampire Hunter is a remarkably boring and generic story about a woman who has devoted her life to hunting vampires because they “killed her baby.” …Okay? Mostly, her hunting amounts to wandering around parks and neighborhoods wearing budget conscious Matrix cosplay and carrying a ninja sword she bought of Amazon for 60 dollars. Sometimes she finds cheap, plastic skulls or other Halloween Store decorations laying around. On rare occasions she might use her flashlight. Every once in a while she manages, somehow, to find vampires, and then she kills them in a clumsy, slowly acted, badly choreographed fit of bellow average ninja fury. Your neighbor kids are probably making a movie that will surpass this in quality as we speak. Also, she apparently falls in love with a cop pretty much instantly early on in the movie, and at some point the movie tries to establish some sort of tension by floating the idea that maybe Avia is actually crazy and vampires don’t exist. That subplot remains very brutally underdeveloped.
There are a couple points we should probably talk about individually here. Let’s break it down:

  • MUSIC ~ First and foremost, Avia Vampire Hunter has the most hilariously inept use of score that I’ve ever seen in a movie. Yes, including Birdemic. This one wins out over Birdemic in this category. The music sounds like the editor clearly just bought a ton of public domain (I hope) music by different composers and jammed it in there with all the grace and subtly of an occupied porta-potty tumbling end-over-end down a long staircase. There is a valiant, if not completely insane effort to add suspense to scenes of Avia wandering about mindlessly by using the most suspenseful music available to man. The end result is equally comedic and pitiful. Who did this, and how is it that they didn’t know better?
  • VAMPIRES ~ This is the closest I can come to actually complimenting this shambling ambulance crash of movie- some of the vampires are creative looking. Others look like your typical mall goths. There is some variety here, but for some reason there is included in this film a vampire troop decked out in bloody blindfolds with Rick James hair and long sticks stuck onto their fingers (I think they’re supposed to be finger nails.) I don’t know why these are in the movie, or why they have bloody blindfolds, or really anything else about them, but in this sea of mediocrity and recycled cliches, these stand apart as slightly more imaginative, so I thought they deserved a mention, whatever the hell they are.
  • ROMANTIC SUBPLOT ~ The romance between Avia and Lieutenant Whocares (May not be his actual name- I don’t remember, and it’s just not worth a trip to IMDB to find out) is handled so, so terribly. They basically fall in love immediately despite their every interaction feeling skeezy and bleached of any form of humanity whatsoever. Toward the end of the film What’s-His-Name is informed that Avia might be insane, and finds himself under pressure to arrest her for murdering humans who she believes to be vampires (The movie never clarifies if she really is crazy or not)… When I say “put under pressure,” he’s not really put under any sort of pressure at all. Some guy just mentions it to him the same way a frat boy might say “Stay away from that chick, bro, she’s bad news.” This seems like it’s going to be a major plot point, but then he really doesn’t do anything. He acts like he has to, and then he just doesn’t. One gets the impression that writer/director Leon Hunter clearly tried really, really hard with this movie, even if his effort was totally fruitless, so this feels like a weird thing to establish and then completely fail to explore. Are we supposed to accept that Detective Whocares just decides to take her word for it? This is all part of the staggering stupidity with which Avia Vampire Hunter is so generously endowed. Also, it’s really hard to critique Avia Vampire Hunter without launching personal attacks against it’s director, come to find out. I’m trying, though.
  • TONE ~ This is the most damaging quality found in the fibers of Avia Vampire Hunter. It takes itself really, really seriously. If Leon Hunter had his way, this would not be a fun popcorn flick, this would be a heavy, emotional action piece which volleys between deep canyons of human drama and exciting sequences of sword play and horror. Frequently we are treated to scenes which are meant to show case the talents of our lead actress as she grapples with her inner demons in a struggle as heated and desperate as any Rick James vampire battle ever could be. Of course, no one in this movie can act, so in the end we would have been treated to a better acting tour de force had Hunter just filmed some shoes or a can of tomato sauce for a while. Really anything would have been better. Avia just looks like an idiot trying to wrap her mind around some simple concept she just saw on Sesame Street, but this movie so badly wants for her to be Meryl Streep yanking at your heartstrings like crazy. For all it’s effort, none of what Avia Vampire Hunter tries to do in establishing emotion lands at all, and the movie ends up being less authentic or emotionally hard hitting than say, Ernest Goes to Camp, or a McDonald’s commercial. That wouldn’t matter, but the effort is so apparent that this failure feels particularly devastating.

In closing, Avia Vampire Hunter is unforgivably terrible. Everything about it sucks. One time my mom accidentally filmed the inside of her pocket with her cell phone while she walked around the grocery store, and she asked me to help her delete it. I did, but before I removed this footage from her cellular device I was treated to a movie which bests Avia Vampire Hunter on every conceivable plane of human accomplishment.

Special note, this movie is still better than Sucker Punch.


Abominable~ 2006, Ryan Schifrin, USA


As it stands, Abominable is the single best sasquatch movie ever made. This is the one to beat. It’s no small feat (no small feet!? Hilarious!), either, many quality films have come before, be they your family friendly Harry and the Hendersons, your spine tingling speculative documentaries like Legend of Boggy Creek, or your crowd pleasing horror romps like Shriek of the Mutilated or Night of the Demon, but of all these, Abominable is the one ring to rule them all. How can this be? Well, the first key to Abominable’s success is that it has gore and naked people. Even with glorious titan of entertainment John Lithgow slam dunking that mother like a champ, Harry And The Hendersons simply cannot compete with Abominable in this regard. Secondly, Abominable rips off Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Rear Window with apparently no remorse of any kind. The plot is damn near identical, a wheel chair bound man witnesses something terrible and tries frantically to warn those around him, but his claims are dismissed and thus he must race against time to prove himself before it’s too late. Now, in Rear Window we had Jimmy Stewart trying to convince people that Raymond Burr had murdered his wife. In Abominable, we have Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach star Matt McCoy trying to convince a house full of college girls that a Sasquatch is trying to eat them. Knowing that director Ryan Schifrin must have watched Rear Window and recognized the potential of remaking the film with the inclusion of a sasquatch and a house full of college girls is pretty awesome. In Hitchcock’s defense, there was virtually no way for him to have known how desperately Rear Window needed a Bigfoot type monster in it, no matter how glaringly apparent it is to us today. You see, Rear Window was released in 1954, a full four years before the term “bigfoot” was coined in 1958, and a full 13 years before the Patterson Film raised sasquatch public awareness and made him a household name. In other words, at the time of Rear Window’s release, Alfred Hitchcock may not have even known what a sasquatch was. Doubtless, he knew his film was missing some crucial component, though, and when he did see the Patterson footage years later there is no question in my mind that he was immediately hit with the realization that this is what his film so badly needed. I’m sure this shortcoming haunted him for the rest of his days, but happily we can now see that his suffering is at an end, because Ryan Schifrin has succeeded where Alfred Hitchcock could not, he has brought us the movie we’ve needed without knowing for over 50 years. Now we can all sleep easy knowing that future generations will never again have to settle for the inferior bigfootless 1954 version, now we have Abominable. Finally we are able to enjoy Hitchcock’s vision as it was always meant to be seen; a Sasquatch stomping about violently, the screams of young women echoing through the forest in utter futility as they are one by one dismembered for no apparent reason at all, and all of this transpiring before the wide, horrified eyes of Matt McCoy, himself nearly powerless to bring this bloody rampage to an end. Rarely can we see examples of films which bring this much wanted closure to our pained, desperate zeitgeist, but Abominable is that one special film out of a million. I mean, no disrespect to Jimmy Stewart, he’s one of my favorite actors ever, but go watch Jaws without the shark and let me know what you thought of it. Also, the sasquatch in this movie kinda looks like Luis Guzmán, which is clearly also a plus.

squatch guzmanSeeing double?!


Frankenstein Conquers The World!

Frankenstein Conquers the World ~ 1966, Ishiro Honda, Japan


Awesome. This is maybe my favorite kaiju film ever, but knowing that it exists is actually a lot more fun that watching it, and takes less time. Anyway… It’s a simple story- Nazis find the still beating heart of Frankenstein’s monster, Nazis give heart to the Japanese for safe-keeping, Japanese take heart to Japan, Americans drop atomic bomb on Frankenstein’s heart, small Japanese boy eats the now atomic Frankenstein heart (because who wouldn’t?), boy grows into a gigantic Frankenstein’s monster, gigantic Frankenstein’s monster wrestles floppy eared turtle dragon, everyone lives happily ever after. So, it’s fairly boiler plate, all things considered.

Frankenstein Conquers The World (In which Frankenstein most certainly does not conquer the world) is  a treasure from a bygone era where if it wasn’t several stories tall, the Japanese just flat out didn’t wanna hear about it. “Frankenstein’s monster? Sounds good, tell me more. Wait- he’s NOT several stories tall!? Well, that’s you’re problem. Fix that and we’ll talk.” Around this same time, however, the Germans were renaming Godzilla (And various other Toho film monsters) “Frankenstein” and re-dubbing the movies for German release to contain explanations that Dr. Frankenstein was actually responsible for the appearance of the film’s giant monsters, so it appears that those two nations have a mutual need to project onto each others monster related film output. Understandable.

Frankenstein is not alone in Frankenstein Conquers the World, however. Baragon, an old Toho standby, turns up, eager to get Franken-Stomped ruthlessly for about 90 minutes.

baragonBehold- terror incarnate!

This same monster would also later turn up in other films to get slapped around by both Godzilla, and at one point, Ultraman, which kinda makes him the Homie-Hopper of the Kaiju world. I like to think of him more as the puppy dog of Godzilla’s extended family, however, because for a rampaging behemoth gone berserk, this thing is damn adorable, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll love watching his rhino horn, spiky back, and giant floppy, puppy dog ears wiggle about as he is relentlessly clobbered by a skyscraper sized Frankenstein over and over. This is probably a good time to remind readers that this is an actual movie, that was actually made. Presumably by adults.


If we’re being serious, though, Frankenstein Conquers The World has it’s problems. Like many of the old Toho and related Kaiju films, the film is a little slow, and considering the ideal viewing audience for a movie like this is an unfocused gaggle of five year old boys, it would benefit from less talking and more furious monster combat. Today’s monster fans lack the attention span for lengthy exposition scenes shot in outdated 1960’s laboratories, regardless of their age. This isn’t enough to ruin the movie, though, and I recommend it highly for it’s sheer audacity, as well as for it’s no-holds-barred kaiju fisticuffs.


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