In 1987, horror fans were hotly awaiting the debut feature from director Clive Barker. The film was Hellraiser, and one of its marketing phrases was "There are no limits". Most of us couldn't wait. We did not want limits. The film was a success. It was well ahead of its time and the so-called Pinhead character become a horror icon.

Robert Bloch once wrote of the increasing violence in horror movies. Being a fan of classic, atmospheric horror, it disturbed him. He reflectively asked, what happens when Night of the Living Dead is no longer enough for bloodthirsty fans. (that's a paraphrase).

We were those fans. Sure, we loved Night of the Living Dead, but we wanted, craved more. We got it from many filmmakers and NotLD's own director, George Romero, outdid himself at least twice.

Limits? Ha!

I guess you can say that I became a seeker. I wanted to see it all. I watched sleazy Italian and Spanish horror movies. John Waters grossout comedies. The Cinema of Transgression. Nekromantik, and other atrocities by Jorg Buttgereit. It was fun and I considered myself quite worldly. I laughed at squeamish people.

The one that hurt me the most is one of the most notorious films ever made. I'm talking about Passolini's Salo. The words brutal and disgusting do not even come close to describing this picture. What made Salo so disturbing is the brilliance in which it was made.

It's hard to describe what makes otherwise ordinary individuals enjoy watching movies where people are viciously killed. And not just an odd movie here and there, but people that obsessively collect these films and watch them over and over again. Are we sick? I think the answer is, yeah, a little.

In recent years, a simple throat slit or impalement hasn't been enough for viewers. Hardcore horror fans wanted more than a simple garroting or disembowelment. No, it was more grueling to watch actual torture on screen.

Most of that stuff doesn't appeal to me, though I do like the Hostel films, much to the dismay of some of my friends. Hopefully the torture trend has run its course, though I did hear that a sequel to The Collector has been greenlighted.

Now we have The Human Centipede, which is certainly one of the most nauseating premises ever conceived for a feature motion picture. It's about...well, I'll let you watch the trailer if you haven't heard about it.




The question is, do we need to see this? Medical horror is nothing new. David Cronenberg made several amazing movies that dealt with gruesome surgical techniques. But this, this Human Centipede. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new trend. I hope not.

How far do we, as horror fans, need to go? When this isn't enough, what next? It's like people that are addicted to internet sex. Going farther and farther with kink and perversions to take the kick to ever-sprawling lengths, until the beautiful, natural sight of a naked woman or a man is no longer enough to elicit desire.

We're changed by the things we see, whether we realize it at the time. Murder, rape, torture, it's no longer enough. Maybe it's time we stopped.

No, I am emphatically not advocating censorship. That's a bad road for anyone to go down. What I am suggesting is censoring our own intake of extreme footage.

The twenty-seven-year-old me didn't believe in limits, but the forty eight year old me is starting to.

Where is your line drawn? Footage of a beheading from a country far away? The slaughter of a dog or cat? A snuff film? Pedophilia?

I know that it's not the same thing. The Human Centipede is fictional and is a product of imagination and special effects. But the imagery that goes into our brains might well be something we do not want.

Everyone is talking about The Human Centipede, it seems. I've heard it's the most disturbing film ever made. I've heard it's an artistic achievement. I've heard that it's an endurance test for audiences. And I've heard that it's a sham. The only way to know for sure is to see for ourselves.

But I've come to believe in limits and lines. We all draw our own and I think I'm going to draw the line at The Human Centipede. It's not something I need to see. I think maybe it's time, instead, to break out the Universal classics again.

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