There was enough of a deviously clever idea in the first Human Centipede film to warrant a positive review from yours truly a few years back, and while I got a lot of confused looks after recommending the film, I still stand by that review. What started out like a typical “young idiots get lost in the woods” horror story quickly took a left turn into some rather disgusting territory, but there was still an impressive air of suspense, dread, and restraint to the rather unsavory proceedings. All in all, a pretty cool horror flick for serious fans of the genre – but certainly nothing you’d be likely to revisit more than once. (My review, by the way, is here.)

And then came The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), which tossed the crisp look, the dark wit, and the essential restraint of the first film into a dumpster, coated it with self-congratulatory drool, and stood there beaming like a toddler covered in its own poop. What was meant to be a visual assault and a gut-punch indictment of horror geek culture turned out to be little more than a garish array of revolting geek show set-pieces, and the result was a desperate, miserable, and depressing experience for all involved. (You can read my full review of The Human Centipede 2 right here.)

Despite the fact that The Human Centipede 2 is generally considered one of the most worthless horror sequels ever made, someone somewhere decided to give the feces addict known as Tom Six enough money to excrete a Part 3. I figured since I hated Part 2 but mostly dug Part 1, I could go into Part 3 on an even keel. Maybe Mr. Six would recapture some of what I admired about the first film. Maybe he’d stop being so repulsive and aimless and infantile. Maybe he’d recently read a book on how to frame a scene, trim a sequence, or present something besides overt, depressing ugliness.

Nope. My cautious optimism lasted about 75 seconds. This is easily one of the most inept films I’ve seen in years, and the only silver lining imaginable is that we won’t ever have to bother talking about a Human Centipede 4. The plot, and that’s me being charitable, deals with a maniacal prison warden (Dieter Laser) and a rotund accountant (Laurence Harvey) who decide to turn their nastiest inmates into (you guessed it) a really long “human centipede.” Yep! Lips sewn onto butts, people! For three movies in a row! How much cleverer can you be. right?

“A whole prison yard full of a gigantic human centipede? Well, that sure sounds intriguing!” is something you’re probably not thinking right now, and that’s good, because The Human Centipede 3 (Full Sequence) is actually 95 minutes of Dieter Laser shrieking about his plan – and only about six minutes of actual centipede at the end. Even worse than the blatant bait and switch is the fact that Tom Six clearly thinks he’s making a comedy here, what with Mr. Laser’s astonishingly obnoxious overacting and Mr. Harvey’s dire attempt at a Southern accent. Suffice to say that Tom Six is about as funny as a steaming pile of his favorite substance, but that doesn’t prevent him from trying to wedge broad comedy into sequences involving rape, castration, and (of course) the eating of doo-doo.

Occasionally we’ll cut away to a shot of an American flag. That’s what we call social commentary. Take that, American prison system! Tom Six and his fart machines have spoken. Also Eric Roberts collects a quick paycheque for two scenes as a governor. And Tom Six shows up (twice) playing himself (poorly) for no real reason other than to placate his ego and to fill some running time.

The most depressing thing about this feckless, ugly, and pointless film is how edgy and insightful it aims to be. It’s never even remotely scary – unless you consider bad gore FX, irritating performances, and human misery “scary” – and its endless attempts at dark, twisted humor are consistently, wildly, loudly off the mark. Obviously I’d expect a hardcore horror fan to close down a trilogy for themselves, but please do take my word on this one: The Human Centipede 3 is not just bad. It’s an affront to all filmmakers who actually try.

The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) is out in the US now, and set for release in the UK on June 19. Watch the trailer here – then catch up on (or re-watch) the previous films here and here. Go!