EXCLUSIVE: Ashlynn Yennie Talks The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)
Ashlynn Yennie returns for this horrifying sequel only to find herself at the head of the centipede, in theaters October 7th
The shock! The horror! It's been a long time since a film has peaked the curiosity of a nation solely on its salacious nature. But The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is currently having one of those Deep Throat moments that has people sneaking off to get a glimpse of this gruesome little shocker. The advance word of mouth promises a violent and gory 88 minutes that will permanently stain your brain with some of the most vomit inducing imagery ever captured on film. It's a circus sideshow, and people want to know for themselves just how bad it gets.
We can tell you, in all honesty, that it over delivers on the promise made by the first film. And those seeking a reprehensible, wicked thrill won't be disappointed. Even with the censored version that is playing in select theaters on October 7th (nearly 4 minutes has been cut from the version that will arrive on DVD; and only those without a gag reflex will want to partake in its repugnant omissions.)
To learn more about the behind-the-scenes antics that built this empire of blood and shit, we caught up with original The Human Centipede (First Sequence) star Ashlynn Yennie, who returns as herself in the sequel. This time, she gets to be the head of the centipede. What a prize indeed!
For our conversation on the must-see (even if its through clinched fingers) cult hit of the fall, continue reading below.
The response from this movie has quickly turned Human Centipede 2 into something akin to Deep Throat, where everyone is curious to see how bad it truly gets, but no one actually wants to cop to seeing it. It's been awhile since something has landed with this much weight in terms of its must-see nature...
Ashlynn Yennie: Yeah! With the first one, I think the concept shocked a lot of people. When they actually saw it, they thought, "It's not really that bad!" But now, with everyone that has seen this film, like all the people last week at Fantastic Fest...People were not ready for what they were about to watch. It truly grossed out a lot of people. Which is exactly what director Tom Six wanted to do. I think it was the correct response that Tom wanted to get, in a weird way.
Did he ever talk to you about his intentions behind the movie? What his artistic slant was? I've heard a lot of different ideas about what he is attempting to say in terms of cinema and sequels, and about what metaphorical resonance it has...But is any of that true?
Ashlynn Yennie: He didn't want to make a sequel. He didn't want to make a copy of his first film. That was his biggest thing. He wanted to go in the completely opposite direction. Also, he just wanted to shock people. In the first one, he introduced the idea to the world. In the second one, he wanted to really shock people with what could, or what would happen if someone actually did do this. Then, for the third one, he will tie them all together. We will get more clarity into the process, and what he was thinking by making these films. Some people are reading way too much into it. This one guy was trying to make it spiritual. I was like, "Dude! It's just a horror film. It's not spiritual, buddy!" He kept looking for its hidden meaning. Its not there. Tom Six said it best. Overall, he just likes to make controversial films. This is the natural progression from the first one to the second one, and he wanted to make something that was completely opposite. Which is what this film is.
I've heard some of these people coming out of Fantastic Fest, and they have these grand ideas about what it all means. Back when the original came out, Tom Six told us he did it just to do it. It was a gross idea, and his sole purpose in making the film was to shock the audience. Nothing more, nothing less. That is pretty bold to admit, but people are still going to read what they want into it. For me, I saw Part 2 as an extension, or maybe a modern day retelling of the 1955 Oscar winning film Marty. With Ernest Borgnine. Both are in black and white. The main characters share a first name. And the initial set up really reminds me of that film. Did Marty ever come up in discussions about the script?
Ashlynn Yennie: The movie Marty? Yeah, I know that movie. But no. Tom Six came to me with this idea a long time ago. Before the first movie had even been released. The biggest thing was...Because I was the smallest character in the first one, and because of what happens to me...No one ever thought that I would be in a sequel. He wanted to go for that factor. When he came to me, he knew I'd be up for anything. I told him, "Yeah, that sounds fun!" When he pitched the idea to me, I am not going to lie, I had some concerns. As far as being an actor, and some of the stuff he wanted me to do? Even some of the stuff that had nothing to do with my character...I was like, "Tom, you cannot put that in a film!" Being an American, I know what we can show in theaters, and what we can't. I told him, "There are parts of this that are going to get cut. That's just how you'll have to make the film." He goes, "No, no, no! It will be amazing!" He knew what he was doing at all times. When he asked me to do it, I was game. I told him I was down for all of it. I'd already done the first one, its not going to harm me to do the second one,
What kind of clout comes with being the head of the centipede this time around?
Ashlynn Yennie: It is so much better. I've got to be honest. (Laughs) People always ask, "Which is the worst? The back or the front?" Well, if you are behind somebody, it's awful. Being the front person this time? That was another factor in me doing this. I asked, "What part do I get to be?" (Laughs) He said, "I'll let you be the head..." I said, "Okay, I'm sold! I'll do it!" You just have an easier time when you have someone in back of you. You don't have all this extra weight. Though, now, you are dragging people around with you. It was fun. It was a good time!
Did you have any say as to who was going to wind up with their face stapled to your butt? Did you have any time to get to know this person?
Ashlynn Yennie: I met Maddi Black before hand. I came onto set after they'd all shot their individual scenes. We all got to the set, at the warehouse, and that is where I met her. She told me, "I am a supporting actress! I am supporting your ass!" I was like, "Alright!" I like that concept. She was great. The thing about it is, this was such an awesome cast. These were willing actors that were fans of the first film. For them to be in the second one? They were really excited about it. Everyone was game to get down on all fours and do this. Which was the exact opposite of the casting process on the first one. Girls would walk out of that audition. Even our first day on set, Akihiro Kitamura and I thought, "God, this is weird. What are we doing? We're going back to nothing now." But it turned out fine.
Did you act as a chaperone to those who were new to this world on set? Since you'd already had your face in someone's ass before?
Ashlynn Yennie: Kind of, but again, because it was so different...Even the structure of how we worked with the special effects team, and how we got the fake butts put on, and all that stuff...That was all different from the first time. I was as much a newbie as they were. I was originally the girl at the end that was attached to somebody. I didn't have to put a fake butt on. I didn't have to wear anything. I had prosthetics on my face. That was it. This time, we were all getting these things taped onto us at the same time. I thought we were all new to the process, coming at it together.
Ah, see...You are kind of ruining the magic for me. I had no idea that you guys were using fake butts. That might ruin it for the audience, to know that we are looking at fake butts...
Ashlynn Yennie: Yeah, well...(Laughs) I know! Its funny, because at Fantastic Fest, people would tell me that it doesn't look fake. The special effects team that we had in London was amazing. They designed these butts out of silicon. We had shorts on, and they would lay these fake butts over the shorts. When they laid them out all together on the floor, it was quite funny! There were twelve of them sitting there. They were thin, but they kept quite a bit of distance between you and the other person.
I had no idea any of the butts I saw in the movie were fake.
Ashlynn Yennie: There is one time when it is actually the real person's butt. That's when they are doing the stapling part of the mouth to the butt. The mouthpart is fake. The lip is fake, but the butt is real. I don't know who wanted to sign up for that one. I decided not to shoot that day. (Laughs)
Where did these fake butts all go after the shoot?
Ashlynn Yennie: We had a warehouse outside of the set. There was this huge room. Well, it wasn't a room. It was another section of the warehouse where we all camped out. We hung out there. There was a room for hair and make-up. The special effects...Because there was so much blood in this film, we had tarps everywhere. They had the legs, and the heads, and all of this stuff just lying there. It must have been interesting to be a person that just walks onto that set. They would have been like, "Oh, my god! What is going on here?" Because it's pretty scary. All of this stuff is lying around, we're in our bathrobes, there's duct tape all over the place. That was funny...
What is the craft service like on a Human Centipede movie?
Ashlynn Yennie: Tom Six is so good at getting the right food for us. On the first one, we had amazing food. We shot in Amsterdam, and they did this great catering for us. They were awesome. They were up all night, making food for us, any time we wanted. People think that you won't want to eat, and that this is gross...But it's just like any other job. It's like, "It's time for lunch!" Okay, so we all run and get lunch. It was cold in London when we shot. So they would have us really warm food. That was always good. They do a good job.
I've noticed that the audience thus far has been quite impatient. They want to get right to the gore. The making of the Human Centipede. I loved the first fifty minutes of the movie, more so than they last forty minutes, which shows Martin making his so-called masterpiece. I think a lot of people are writing the first part of the movie off, in a way. And its beautifully shot, its entirely captivating. The gist I've gotten is that people don't have the patience to sit through it because they want the instant gratification of the promised shock and awe...
Ashlynn Yennie: Yes. You have to set those moments up in some way, you know? The first half of the movie is just Martin capturing these people. If you look at the movie in terms of time, there is only about twenty minutes were all of the bad stuff actually happens; all of the blood and the gore. As a movie fan, and a moviegoer, it's hard for me to comment on that. Because I am one of those people that wants a story. I want a progression of what is going to happen. I want to know whom this Martin guy is, and what his backstory is. All of that stuff. If you are just a horror fan, and you are coming for the blood and guts alone, you won't dig this. But you will dig it at the end. That will pay off. Maybe that's what Tom Six was hoping for. He created this one big set-up, and then this payoff at the end. Which is essentially like a huge fart joke. He threw in an ending that I didn't even know was in there.
I agree with you, though. I like a good story. I'd seen some of the reviews and the reactions from Fantastic Fest before I saw the movie for myself. I went in with this impression that I was getting nearly an hour of tedium before the big fireworks show. But that is not the case. There is some great character work being done here, and some moments that are way more psychologically disturbing than any of the gore. The scene with Martin and the baby? What happens to that little boy...Oh, that's what happens...None of it is boring. Its just the audience doesn't have the patience for it, because they know what's coming, and that's what they came for.
Ashlynn Yennie: I know. It is so funny. Everyone is so different. I just saw a movie last night that is getting rave reviews. I couldn't tell you, for the life of me, anything about these characters. I couldn't tell you why she was this way, or why he was this way. There was no backstory there at all. Yet, everyone was making so much out of it. I was with my boyfriend, and when we left, we talked about the movie like we always do. We discussed how you had to make up so much backstory in your head. Maybe we always do that because we are actors, and we are big movie buffs...But we had to make up so much backstory about the main character, we were filling in all the blanks. I read some of the stuff that came out about The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) after Fantastic Fest. People were like, it's such a thin storyline. There isn't much there. I thought, "There was way more storyline there than this other film!" We learn so much about Martin and what he is doing. In this other film that I saw, there was nothing going on. You didn't learn anything about these people. I think it's a difference in opinion, as well as how people watch things...
I didn't think HC2 was thin by any stretch of the imagination. There is so much complex stuff going on with Martin, and his relationship with his mom. His relationship with his next-door neighbor. I haven't heard this stuff addressed in most of the reviews. Maybe the end is just such a hardcore head fuck that people forget what came before it.
Ashlynn Yennie: Maybe.
What's the story behind Laurence R. Harvey? The guy that plays Martin?
Ashlynn Yennie: He is so sweet. He is the kindest, most gentle guy. He is so funny. He has this great British humor, and he is so much fun to work with. The first day I got to set, he walked towards me. I had not met him yet, nor had I seen a picture of him. And he is a character. He is small, he is round. He has this face...He walks up to me, and he just smiles. He hands me this tin of candies. He goes, "These are from my hometown." I was like, "Oh, my god! You are so sweet." He brought me candy on the first day I had to work with him. But then...Obviously, we had to do these scenes opposite each other...He was a joy, and I like him as a person. He was very approachable. But he would sometimes keep to himself on set. Because of this character he was playing. He wasn't as extreme as Dieter Laser was on the original film. Dieter stayed away from us completely, because he was Dr. Heiter the entire time. Laurence isn't as method as Dieter is.
I think the man's sweetness comes through, despite some of the horrible things we see him do. You can almost empathize with him...
Ashlynn Yennie: I know. It's true. It's such a weird thing. That's what Tom Six was going for. In the end, when you look at the characters in the film, not counting the family members...They are not amazing people. No one talks to him. They all talk at him. Even my character. I am not engaging him in a conversation. Every single person is either yelling at him, or making fun of him. I told Tom that it was so sad. That if someone would just love him the correct way...Maybe he wouldn't be so screwed up. But he has such a screwed up relationship with his mother, and his doctor...All of those elements turn, and make up this man. You can see why he would be fantasizing about this film, and making all of this stuff up in his head. The first one is about the destruction of human beings. I think this one shows a lot of humanity on Martin's part. I feel like people need to love more. I know that sounds so cheesy. But its what we should do as human beings. We should treat people with respect. No one should be treated this way.
Its true. God, its like that one line the mother says, "I'm going to kill us both..." This lady is horrible...
Ashlynn Yennie: "I am going to kill us both..." Oh, my god!
How realistic is your role in the movie? Because this seems like something that could happen to any up and coming actor. As an idea, its one of the scariest things in the movie...
Ashlynn Yennie: It's not too far off. I will be honest with you. I have a pretty good sense. But since filming the first movie, I have had some very weird offers come down the pipe. From people who...They weren't Quentin Tarantino, but they would say, "We want to audition her in London." This, and this, and this. You can use a fake name. Or you can use a real name, and pose as someone else. Maybe someone has the same name as you. An agency in London can call, and say that they have an audition, blah, blah, blah...If they pay for the flight, and they set up everything, a girl will fly out. I almost guarantee you. If it was someone as big as Quentin Tarantino, there are a lot more hoops you'd have to jump through. From my own experiences, these are just people that are looking to make a horror film. They would either contact me or my representation, and they were just so weird. I had one guy make up a completely fake contract and send it to my agent. I didn't have any idea who this person was. They kept saying, "Ashlynn agreed to do my film!" And they had this contract that wasn't even a contract. It looked like it was typed up on Microsoft Word. It said, "She will fly in on this day, she will shoot on this day, and she will do this..." You know? "This is how much I will pay her." It was really scary. How do people think this is legit? Yet, at the same time, in this business, there are a lot of people who want a break. They just want to work. That is the scary part. I feel like, sure, it could happen. I hope that it never happens to anyone. But I told Tom this was my worst nightmare coming true. I get called out for a horror film, and it turns out not to be a horror film.
It certainly is scary. Now, we know that, from the beginning, Tom Six envisioned this as a trilogy. Do you know anything about the final film? What it could be? How you may be involved?
Ashlynn Yennie: I think everyone's guess is correct. He kills me as a character. Then he kills me as me. I don't think there is any chance I will come back. Unless it's as a ghost. No. I am not involved in part three. I don't know anything about The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence). I do know that he is shooting it in Los Angeles, which should be interesting. I don't know what he plans on doing, but he does plan on tying all three together. This one started out with the ending from part 1. Part 3 will begin with the ending of Part 2. They will link together. In that crazy Tom Six way, they will all link up together.
He could bring you back. The Human Centipede 2 is just a movie. Even though you are playing yourself, he could make another movie where it's now this universe and plane of reality.
It could go on forever like that. Each new sequel pretending to be this reality. The next movie, we find out the previous one was just a movie...
Ashlynn Yennie: Definitely. We could have Human Centipedes every single year. (Laughs)
It could be like Hands across the World...
Ashlynn Yennie: Centipede across the world. It could be in every country. That would be crazy....I have to be honest. The first time I saw The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), I was in shock. I couldn't feel my hands or my legs. I told Tom, "This is really off." He says, "That's good, right? I wanted you to not be able to talk about it." I said, "You are right. I can't talk about it." For me, it feels like someone else's movie. I don't ever feel like that is me in this film. I feel like I am watching someone else.
What has been cut out from the version shown at Fantastic Fest? What are we missing?
Ashlynn Yennie: I am not exactly sure what they cut out. Did you see the barbwire scene?
No. I don't know what that is...
Ashlynn Yennie: I don't want to give away too much. There is a scene in the film where the main character does something to one of the girls. It is so graphic, they couldn't show it in theaters. It will be on the DVD. I think it is about four minutes of the film that is cut out.
In the version I saw, the masturbation scene is cut short as well. You see the sand paper, his hand, and then his face, and that is it...
Ashlynn Yennie: Yeah. There is more too that scene. It is a little more graphic. His use of that sandpaper. It is a fake prosthetic. You see his member, and the sand paper, and some blood. Yeah.
You are making my jaw tighten just thinking about it.
Ashlynn Yennie: I think every guy in the theater screamed, "Oh, my god! Ahhhhhhhh!" It was pretty gross. It was a pretty coarse grain. You see him scratch his finger on it. Ahhhhh....
I think this conversation is over.
Ashlynn Yennie: (Laughs)!