The 13th Floor

Extreme Cinema: A Vile Journey Through the Notorious CENTIPEDE HORROR

I usually open with a tagline here. No tagline could be found for this film, but I think “The one with all the centipedes and vomit” will suffice nicely.

1982’s CENTIPEDE HORROR is the stuff of legend. A quick internet search will yield endless chatter about how extreme and disgusting this movie is. The film got a nice boost in popularity a few years back thanks to the HUMAN CENTIPEDE franchise revitalizing our morbid fascination for multi-legged creepy crawlies.

A family is cursed by a black magic wizard. Under the curse, centipedes not only swarm and attack family members, but the women vomit up ferocious centipedes that then eat the ladies alive.

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This film is definitely one of the more extreme animal attack films, even possibly contending as the most twisted and gut-wrenching movie I’ve ever seen. I had long thought my bizarre repulsion/love of this movie was clearly some weird psychosis resulting from an extreme fear of centipedes, but last year the esteemed Los Angeles art-house cinema Cinefamily hosted a screening of this notorious film. Boom! I’m justified. It’s clearly a cinematic classic. They even made barf bags for the screening!

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The film is structured using the standard “black magic vs. white magic” plot found in much of 70s and 80s Hong Kong cinema, containing many formulaic staples of this strange genre- a curse that must be combated, elaborate black magic ritual sequences, vomiting (which is usually part of the curse), and animal brutality (in this case a chicken). So what sets CENTIPEDE HORROR apart from the large lot of equally low quality Hong Kong shock films? Well first, CENTIPEDE HORROR has some very heavy themes like nationalism and racism that are woven into the story. And second are the centipedes…thousands and thousands of centipedes. The centipedes are definitely the gimmick here, and they are everywhere…in people’s hair, beds, and mouths. Again, this movie is not for the faint.

CENTIPEDE HORROR was released to DVD several years ago from Apprehensive Films, but that the transfer leaves a lot to be desired, and it is reportedly in DVD-r format which is not a professional quality, but more like a homemade DVD burn. I have also heard that you can occasionally find this title on some international streaming sites. But since those are illegal and riddled with viruses, I recommend checking out eBay for a vintage VHS copy, but a warning- a vintage VHS copy can run well over $100 because of the film’s reputation and rarity.

Before you jump head first into CENTIPEDE HORROR just remember that this is not a light film. Even Tom Savini said “This is the sickest film I’ve ever seen!” And that’s from Tom Fucking Savini!

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