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Josef Heiter

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I'm Dr. Josef Heiter, retired but very well known as the leading surgeon in separating Siamese twins. Six months ago I designed a never seen operation on not separating anymore but creating. I transformed my three rottweilers into a beautiful 3-hund construction.
~ Dr. Heiter

Dr. Josef Heiter, or commonly and simply referred to as Dr. Heiter, is the main antagonist of the horror film The Human Centipede . Dr. Heiter is arguably one of the most disturbing and perverted characters in cinema, even by horror standards - subjecting his victims to the unthinkable in order to pursue his insane scientific vision. The character of Dr. Heiter is based off of the infamous real-life Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Considering the reputation of the film Heiter's fictional acts are still amazingly less evil than the real experiments of Dr. Mengele.

Once a renowned surgeon in the medical community, "the leading surgeon in separating Siamese twins", Dr. Heiter had become utterly obsessed with taking his skills and bringing them to the next level by putting bodies together to function as one unit rather than separating conjoined bodies into separate units. His first successful experiment began by surgically connecting his three adult Rottweiler dogs, unfortunately this pet died. But his vision only grew more bold and he developed a plan to create a human "Siamese triplet", a form to which he gave the common name "Human Centipede". In order to begin his experiment he kidnapped travelers matching blood types until he found a match. He then surgically joins them, mouth to anus, forming a perverse "centipede" where each human is a segment of the whole unit. This causes unimaginable suffering to those involved, but science knows no evil and Dr. Heiter considers this creation to be nothing more than a new pet to stay loyally by his side.

Heiter is portrayed by well known European actor Dieter Laser After much deliberation Laser would later continue working with director Tom Six to play a completely different, yet still monstrous, character Bill Boss in The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence).



Lindsay and Jenny, two American tourists in Germany, are drugged and kidnapped by crazed surgeon Dr. Heiter when they seek help after their car breaks down. The women awake in a makeshift medical ward and witness Heiter informing a kidnapped truck driver that he is "not a match" then killing him via injection. When the women wake up a second time, Heiter has secured a new male captive, Japanese traveller Katsuro. The doctor explains that he is a world-renowned expert at separating conjoined twins whose new medical goal is to create a single unit of more than one being that will live by sharing a single digestive system with one another. He describes with an overhead presentation the essential basics of how he will surgically connect his three victims mouth-to-anus.

Before beginning the operation, Lindsay fails in an attempt to escape. Heiter then explains to Lindsay that he had experimented with creating a 'three dog', also joined mouth-to-anus, which died shortly after surgery. Heiter tells Lindsay that the middle dog of his creation experienced the most pain, and as a punishment for her escape attempt she will become the middle part of his centipede. Heiter performs the surgery on his victims, placing Lindsay in the middle, Katsuro at the front, and Jenny at the rear.

Once the operation is complete the doctor begins to train his centipede as a pet. In spite of their resistance to him the unavoidable happens. He watches with great delight as Lindsay is forced to swallow Katsuro's excrement as this will begin the ultimate process of proof that the experiment has truly worked and also serves the purpose of letting them know he is ultimately in control of them regardless of whether or not they obey his commands. Heiter eventually becomes more and more irritated after being kept awake by the constant screaming, moaning, and crying of his victims along with the various other disobediences his "pet" commits. During a routine physical Heiter realizes that Jenny, the tail end, is dying.

Interrupting the physical is the sound of the doorbell. Two detectives, Kranz and Voller, have come to visit the house to investigate the disappearance of tourists. After realizing the detectives are considering him as a prime suspect Heiter decides he will add them to his centipede as replacements for Jenny. Heiter fails in an attempt to drug the detectives and they leave the house to obtain a search warrant. During the time Heiter is upstairs dealing with the detectives the victims escape from the ward. When Heiter returns to attend to his pet he finds it is missing. Katsuro attacks Heiter and the extreme injuries cause him to fall temporarily unconscious. Though they do manage to crawl up the stairs into the main house, their attempt to escape ultimately fails as they are trapped in a room which Heiter himself must crawl into due to his wounds from the attack. Katsuro is poised to fight again but then instead breaks down confessing to the doctor, in Japanese, that he deserves his fate because he had treated his family poorly and lived an irresponsible life. Katsuro then commits suicide by slitting his own throat with a piece of glass.
Heiter killed

Heiter shot dead.

The detectives return to the house and split to conduct separate searches. Heiter, realizing the detectives had returned, hides aside his indoor swimming pool. We see Voller is struggling with the effects of the earlier drugging as he searches. Kranz finds the makeshift ward and then hears a gunshot. He begins to head towards the gunfire, but discovers the morbid state of Heiter's victims before finding Voller dead in the swimming pool. Heiter shoots Kranz in the stomach, and Kranz responds by shooting Heiter in the head. Kranz then falls in the pool from his wound and dies there. Back in the house, Jenny and Lindsay hold hands as Jenny dies from her infection. Lindsay is the lone survivor in the house, trapped tragically between her deceased fellow captives.


  • "I'll explain this spectacular operation only once. We start with cutting the ligamentum patella, the ligaments of the kneecaps, so knee extension is no longer possible. Pulling from "B" and "C" the central incisors, lateral incisors and canines from the upper and lower jaws, the lips from "B" and "C," and the anus of "A" and "B," are cut circular along the border between skin and mucosa, the mucus cutaneous zone. Two pedicellated grafts are prepared and lifted from the underlying tissue. The shaped incisions below the chins of "B" and "C" up to their cheeks connecting the circular mucosa and skin parts of anus and mouth, from "A" to "B," and "B" to "C," connecting the pedicellated grafts to the chin-cheek incisions from "A" to "B," and "B" to "C," creating a Siamese triplet, connected via the gastric system. Ingestion by A, passing through B, to the excretion of C. The "human centipede", first sequence."


  • Although the film claimed to use real-life surgical science with the procedure process created under consultation of a medical professional, many experts have since ridiculed the idea that a "human centipede" could ever be created.
  • Dieter Laser was hesitant to take the role of Doctor Heiter. As a well respected stage and screen actor in Europe he had to consider how his involvement in such a film might impact his career. He then thought of how this extreme character could be played seriously with a psychopathic style similar to a Hannibal Lecter and decided to take the creative risk. The result was to have created one of the most infamous horror villains of all time.
  • Being a method actor, Dieter Laser refused to speak to the three actors playing Heiter's victims during the filming of the movie, as he didn't want any kind of emotional friendliness between them (as Dr. Heiter and his victims wouldn't have). This had put him into a minor conflict with co-star Akihiro Kitamura (who played the "head" of the centipede) who believed that Dieter was truly being hostile. One incident that resulted in an on-set verbal challenge where Kitamura called for assistance and Laser called him "chickenshit" occurred when Laser's foot was closer to Kitamura's face for a scene requiring it to look as though Heiter was kicking Katsuro in the face. The two apologized shortly afterwards but Kitamura admitted the event did help fuel him in character though since filming the two have a very friendly and respectful professional relationship. The two actresses Ashlynn Yennie and Ashley C. Williams have admitted themselves they were quite frightened of Laser during filming and only realized on meeting him post-filming that he is a friendly and sociable person.
  • In the sequel set in the "real world", Martin Lomax, an obese mentally unstable man becomes inspired, as well as sexually aroused, by the movie The Human Centipede, and decides to copy Heiter's methods. Due to his not being medically trained in any capacity he uses things like duct tape and kitchen appliances to create his centipede of eleven human segments. Despite being fictional Heiter has an influence over Martin who looks up to Heiter as a father figure and keeps a picture of him in his massive secret scrapbook of the film along with pictures of the actors and actresses both in character as well as themselves out of character.
  • In the "South Park" episode, HumancentiPad, Steve Jobs tortured Kyle, a Japanese man, and a woman and made all three of them a "human centipede-esque" Apple product called "the HumancentiPad". In the end, he had to pry them apart and let them go due to a loophole.
  • Dr. Josef Heiter was inspired by the real life Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.
  • Dieter Laser is featured as leading character prison warden Bill Boss in the third and final installment The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). Doctor Heiter, along with the original film's events, is presented as a work of fiction to warden Bill Boss alongside the sequel The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) by character Dwight Butler (played by The Human Centipede II's lead Laurence Harvey) as inspiration a new method of dealing with inmates in the American prison system. Heiter appears in archive footage when The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is screened to the inmates at Bill Boss' prison.

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